Saturday, February 1, 2014

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

Crossing the street with Big Mare was a fate worse than death.  Although raised in New York with a keen sense of the city, my mother approached each intersection as if she'd been struck by tractor trailers every day of her life.

Westchester Avenue was a particularly harrowing thoroughfare.  An unfortunate logistical fact because we needed to survive its pedestrian chokehold in order to get to school each morning and home again in the afternoon.  Perhaps it was the roar of the elevated trains that blocked out the sun as they passed overhead.  Or the livery cabs darting between the steel pillars that held up the tracks.  Maybe it was the momentum from the buses as they lurched and wobbled forward along their routes.

I have no idea what filled her with such apprehension.  She was a control freak. But traffic in a major metropolitan area is hard to control, especially in flip flops and a house dress with a cigarette dangling precariously from your lips.

As we stepped off the curb together, Mom squoze my hand so tightly that she cut off the circulation right up to my elbow.  She twisted my wrist backward at such an angle that I limped by her side like a docile chimpanzee.  Sometimes, she tucked my hand clean under her armpit as we ran the gauntlet from one corner to the next.  The whole while, she cried out "Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!" until we made it safely to the other side.

Once she collected herself on the pavement, she commented loudly with regard to her hopes for the drivers who leaned on their horns as she passed.  "I wish you four flats, you stupid son of a bitch!" she'd holler.  Sometimes, they gave her the finger.  She'd stare down those vehicles all the way to the stoplight, praying that their cars exploded when the light turned green.

As we got older, Mom loosened the reins a little bit.  She let us walk up to St. Raymond's by ourselves, but she still insisted on meeting us at dismissal.  I'd race down Zerega Avenue in attempts to traverse that busy exchange on my own, without having to subject myself to her sweaty grip or witness the ambulatory torment that was part of her daily routine.


Here in Ardrey, we don't have a whole lot of blood-thirsty boulevards.  Desmond and Rory enjoy their adventures in our neighborhood.  Mercifully, folks drive nice and slow through our streets.  I'm hopeful that my children behave themselves when they leave the house.  I remind them that they are representing our family. Our motto, these days, is "Don't be a dick."

Except for the Trader Joe parking lot, I don't hold my sons' hands as a necessity anymore.  If I could, I'd escort everyone from their vehicles into the grocery store over there in Piper Glen.  People are crazy!  For the most part, I just pull on the hood of a jacket or guide these guys by the shoulder.  They're not always paying attention when cars are backing up.  Occasionally however, one of the boys will reach for me as we're walking together.  That's always very nice.

Recently, I saw Bro look both ways as he crossed the street coming out of the barber shop.  I nearly dropped dead right there in the patch of grass behind the bank.  I wish Big Mare could have seen him.  She'd have grabbed me by the hand. I just know it.

1 comment:

  1. Just LOVE the picture comparison! I remember the "hand squeeze" too!!!