In reflecting on my life I find a hodgepodge of odd memories. There are so many things I’ve seen and done that no one even knows about. Like saving a drowning child, flying in a burning airplane, nearly falling off a four-story building, or taking an eight-week course in brick laying – or playing the tuba.
I once learned the rudiments of Square Dancing. Although no one bothered to explain the reason for it to us children, it was part of our Elementary School PE program. It was about the third grade. I recall only snippets of it:
Bow to Your Partner
Bow to Your Corner
Swing Your Partner
Right And Left Grand
It would have been fun – except for one issue – and the issue was tissue. At the beginning of every school year we were given a list of school supplies we had to have on the first day of school – pencils, paper, notebooks, crayons, a ruler, an eraser, and so forth. A handkerchief was de rigueur for everyone; so much so, that, those children who were forgetful (as children often are) were compelled to wear theirs pinned prominently to the front of their clothing with a safety-pin. Although Kleenex facial tissues were long on the market the folks in our neighborhood could hardly afford them. Plain cloth or pressed linen handkerchiefs were the norm. Out of all this I formed a habit of never leaving home without one and even sometimes carrying a second, because it was about that time that we all learned that little bit of mythos about offering a hanky to a lady or a girl dropping her hanky as an excuse for gaining the attention and making the acquaintance of a favored boy.
I admit I had a favorite. A little blonde girl with a round face and wide-set blue eyes. Truth be told, she was probably everyone’s favorite. In those days all the girls wore fancy dresses and most of them took exquisite care of their hair; wearing it in pigtails, ponytails and even curls. But she was a kid and I was a kid and, as it is with all kids – she was subject to the sniffles.
As I said, Square Dancing would have been fun – but every time the dance called for me to hold this little girl’s hand, I wound up holding onto her soggy, cold, handkerchief instead.
Over the years I’ve incorporated this experience into my personal philosophy, or view of life.
Now Dame Fortune may smile upon a young man, and from time to time he may even find himself holding hands with the prettiest little girl in the whole school, but there will always be that wet hanky between you.