As a child growing up in New Orleans, Louisiana, I remember that my mom and dad would buy me all kinds of educational stuff to keep my little overactive, creative brain entertained, especially while I was out of school on summer vacation. Thanks to my dad, I was proud that I had my own subscription to Children’s Reader’s Digest. I spent hours playing with my Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head family, which he purchased for me. Though it didn’t interest me that much, I remained mildly amused each time I played my game “Operation.”
Topping off my treasure trove of pleasant distractions were my numerous puzzle books and my jumbo box of Crayola crayons, which contained multiple rare shades in addition to the traditional primary colors. No other kids on my block had such an array of educational tools. I felt privileged to have so many choices at my disposal for amusement.
I remember that my choice spot to play outside was our wooden front porch, where I would sit comfortably cross-legged and prepare to color my little tail off, blissfully lost in my own private world of solitude. I usually settled down with one of my favorite coloring books. I could hardly wait to flip through it to pick out and produce colorful pictures, which I would hang on my bedroom wall sometimes.
I cherished whatever I created, always being careful to stay within the lines of the pictures. I liked my colored-in pages to be neat and took pride in neatness. As an adult, I still do.
One Saturday morning, a little knucklehead barefoot boy dressed in a mismatched shirt and shorts, which ended at his knees, came to our gate. I knew that he lived down the street in my neighborhood, but I didn’t know his name. I hardly ventured outside of our wire fenced-in front yard. Besides, there was no need for me to go anywhere else in the neighborhood because I had everything I needed and wanted at home. But back to this seedy looking kid. I remember when he spoke to me, mumbling something barely audible, “Whatcha doing?” I looked up from my coloring book and on the tip of my tongue was, “Can’t you see that I’m coloring, you idiot?” But I could sense that he was short on enough brains to be able to keep up with me, so I stuck to using a simple word, loudly snapping back with, “Coloring!” I thought he would go away on his own and bother someone else. There were plenty of kids at other houses on our block. God only knows why he picked mine. Then he spoke up again and asked if he could come in my yard and color in my book too.
Gotta mention that my parents taught me early on to never be selfish and to share with others, but this kid had me worried for some reason about me sticking to this golden rule. Still cautious, I kept the thought in the back of my mind that at some point, I might have to go against my parents’ sage advice. Reluctantly, I told him he could come in the yard. But in all my childhood naivety, I had no idea that I would regret my invitation to him. He came up the steps and sat cross-legged on the porch next to me. After I finished coloring my page, he scooted closer to see my finished product. I remember thinking to myself, “I hope he gets a splinter in his little ass, which would definitely send him home crying in pain without me having to lay a hand on him. I thought maybe if I just ignore him, he’ll just go away on his own without me resorting to any violence. Anyway, I showed him my completed page of a garden filled with vibrant flowers to give him an idea of what he should
I remember thinking to myself, “I hope he gets a splinter in his little ass, which would definitely send him home crying in pain without me having to lay a hand on him. I thought maybe if I just ignore him, he’ll just go away on his own without me resorting to any violence. Anyway, I showed him my completed page of a garden filled with vibrant flowers to give him an idea of what he should aim for in coloring in MY book. He looked at the page and nodded his head up and down as if he knew what I expected of him. I hoped he did for his own safety.
Although I was still wary of his mental abilities, I flipped through my coloring book to find a simple picture that would not be too difficult for him to complete. I found one and then turned my coloring book around for him to easily be able to color on the page from his sitting position. With no apparent thought process, he grabbed my crayon box and took an orange crayon from the box without relating that particular color he chose to fit anything in the picture on the page. Nothing in the drawing called for the color orange. The picture was of a few trees, a small stream with a frog nearby. I didn’t say anything…yet, but I frowned and watched as he bent down closer to the page and started to attack the picture erratically with zig zag lines all over the page. Dumbfounded, I sat back and steamed in silence as I watched him put down the orange crayon on the porch and pick a purple crayon out of the box. The first thing that teed me off was that he didn’t even put the orange crayon back in my box! Damned moron, I thought! Then he started scratching more zig-zag lines all over the orange crap he made on the page. I began to wonder if he didn’t see the fucking trees and the small stream with a little frog nearby? This crazy crap was too much for me not to take some action. I thought to myself, “This little shithead has GOT TO GO.”
Angry and frustrated, I snatched the purple crayon from his hand and put it back in my crayon box. In a flash, I stood up and told him to get his stinky little ass off my porch. His eyes got big as Oreo cookies. Fearful of what might come next, he quickly stood up, visibly scared that I would punch him in the face, which I wanted to do and had every right to do. But messing up a page in my cherished coloring book didn’t rise to the level of an ass kicking from me. As he scrambled down the steps, I ran behind him. He flew out the gate, which is where I stopped. I shook my fist at him and screamed, “And don’t you ever come back in my yard. Ever!”
I watched him hightail it down the block, laughing as I heard the sound of his bare feet slapping the pavement like someone getting repeatedly smacked in the face. I saw him make a sharp left and disappear down an alley where his house was. Honestly, he deserved to get beat up, but on second thought, banning him from my yard was enough punishment. Needless to say, he never showed up again at my gate. I stomped up the stairs and sat down on the porch again, looking at my coloring book with disgust as if it needed a vaccination from some type of disease. But I picked it up and flipped through the pages to the one that the little idiot had destroyed. I tore that page out and balled it up to later discard in the garbage can. I felt better then. Ahh, so much drama from my childhood days.