This post is part of the Song of the Moment collection. For several years when I started blogging, I would occasionally post an obfuscated mp3 file for visitors to download without letting them know what the song was. The filename was always simply song.mp3 so when I posted a new one, the previous #sotm would be overwritten.

breathing deeply, walking backwards – blink 182, Roller Coaster

It scares me, walking backwards. When I was a little boy I used to walk with my eyes closed all the time. I would press my back against a wall and stretch my arms and close my eyes and creep along, always excited to find a new room or a door or a light-switch … I never do that now.
My mom was vacuuming once. My little sister was two, I think. So I must have been four. Mom is vacuuming and getting ready to boil some water, probably to make spaghetti. Jenny (my little sister) is just tall enough to reach over the edge of the stove and put her tiny hand on the burner. She starts screaming in pain, of course. My mom, vacuuming, doesn’t notice that I’m walking along the wall with my eyes closed. As I fall down the stairs to the basement – KlunK – tHUnk – she closes the door on me while she’s rushing into the kitchen.
Picture me, coming to the open spot in the wall, realizing that I’m about to fall down the stairs, yelling as I am three or four steps falling backwards – eyes open now! – and seeing my mom slam the door on me while she’s yelling at my screaming sister and the vacuum is … er … vacuuming. There are some things that you never forget.
I was unharmed in the fall. Jenny’s hand wasn’t badly burned. My mom felt terrible. I hardly ever walk with my eyes closed now.

There are 2 comments on this post

  1. Yeah – the things you do as a kid.I remember my father rode a Harley-Davidson. He came back from a ride one day, and I was waiting in the garage for him. I remember I had always thought he was handsome – when I was little, I wanted to marry him when I grew up. (My daughter says that now – it’s so funny.) But he had cleaned his Harley to shining new – it was detailed and I could see my face in the engine. It was so shiny and pretty, I reached out to touch it. He wouldn’t let me. So I waited for him to go upstairs. As soon as the door shut, I laid my entire left hand on the engine. It took a second, but when it hit me, I screamed…I think being a kid is fun, and it’s just one big learning process to do thing that you’re not supposed to do. People can tell you all the time not to do it, but you don’t believe them until you do it yourself, anyway. You probably don’t walk with your eyes closed anymore because you learned what can happen. And now, it’s just not the same kind of fun anymore. Even if you did it anyway, it just wouldn’t be the same.I hate that I now know the meaning of that old phrase “Youth is wasted on the young.” It’s so true.

  2. I love you.

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What Is This? is the personal weblog of me, David Vincent Gagne. I've been publishing here since 1999, which makes this one of the oldest continuously-updated websites on the Internet.

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You can read dozens of essays and articles and find hundreds of links to other sites with stories and information about Ernest Hemingway in The Hemingway Collection.