By Roger A. “Pete” Peterson
It’s summertime, 1948. I’m 5, almost 6 years old and my family lives on Dow Avenue in Lewiston, Maine. My brother Dicky and I are at a friend’s house not far from ours. My friend’s sister, “A”, is there also. She’s older than her brother and I but younger than Dicky, who’s 2 years, 9 months older than me. It’s a warm summer morning and the four of us decide to play “Doctor” in the empty attic above the barn attached to their house.
To enter the attic, we had to open a trap door. Light coming through a window in the peak of the attic highlights large particles of dust floating in the air. The large window is ten feet or so beyond the landing of the attic stairs. After we shut the trap door behind us, “A” suggests we pull our pants down so we can examine each other’s butts. We all agree and “A” picks me to examine her butt. With my pants down around my ankles, I shuffle over behind her. Bending over she rests her elbows on her knees to expose her behind.
Nervous and excited about seeing “A’s” anus and vagina, I get down on my hands and knees to take a good look. I’m Immediately confronted by the strong smell of her anus. The odor is strong and offensive and I immediately regret my decision to participate in playing “Doctor” with her. Judgments start churning in my mind: How disgusting, hasn’t anyone ever taught you how to use toilet paper? Are you too lazy to use it? How did I get into this mess? How can I get out of it without offending you and disappointing the guys? Suddenly, I notice how much my knees hurt. The wood floor feels as hard as steel and my back and neck ache from arching them so far to get a good look at “A’s” anus.
As if sensing my profound change of mood, “A”, angrily wiggles her butt in my face as if to say, “Stop looking at me that way!” Then after a short pause, another, more gentle wiggle seems to say, “Look at me this way!” The first wiggle erased the negative, judgmental thoughts and feelings from my mind and the second one replaced them with a totally new set of thoughts and feelings. Suddenly, I feel proud of “A” for not using toilet paper to wipe her butt after going to the bathroom. And the smell of her anus is now pungent and inviting, like nectar from the Gods!
How can this be? How can my mind switch from negative thoughts and feelings about my experience to positive thoughts and feelings so quickly? Is “A” a magician? In an instant, I went from being a Master Fault Finder to being a Master of Appreciation! Even the pain in my knees disappeared.
For an instant I visualize “A” going to the bathroom and like some wild animal goddess, closing her anus tightly several times to remove any lingering residue. She then stands up to go about her daily activities, spurning the compulsive butt wiping behavior of others. As this image fades, my attention is drawn to the delicate folds of skin around the entrance of her anus and I wonder how the surrounding skin and the ring of muscle (anal sphincter) can expand and contract so much, and with such dependability when we discharge waste. What an ingenious mechanism to be so delicate, flexible, and strong at the same time!
The skin around “A’s” anus looks moist and darker than the surrounding skin and I if it’s natural pigment or fecal residue. As I wonder about this, I realize I realize I have a sensitive, rock-hard erection. Suddenly, I’m struck by the impulse to grab “A’s” hips and bury my face between the cheeks of her ass. I want to tongue her anus clean to both express my joy and admiration for her, and to see if the color around her anus is naturally darker or colored by residue left over from her last bowel movement. The power of this impulse almost overwhelms me but I stop myself from committing this action because it goes beyond the bounds of our original agreement. I feel quite sure the boys would be shocked by this behavior and there’s no telling how “A” would react, even if she found it pleasant. I’m only five but my reaction seems natural given the circumstances. How intriguing!
Widening my attention, I notice the smooth, blemish free skin of “A’s” buttocks. It’s so pink, translucent, and alive! Curiously, I look for shafts of hair I know must be there. After a careful search, I find one delicate hair poking out of an almost invisible pore in her skin. Mesmerized, I wonder, What’s it like inside your skin? Felling myself about to leave my body and enter the pore in “A’s” skin (See: Inside Ivy), I’m shocked back to reality, not by me but by “A’s” grandmother as she angrily pushes the trap door open. She caught us totally by surprise. In one sweeping glance she takes the whole scene in and then locks her focus on “A”, bent over with her pants down, and me crouched down behind her with my face near her butt. “What are you doing, you nasty, nasty children! Pull your pants up and get in the house you two!” she yells at “A” and her brother. She then points in the general direction of our house and commands Dicky and me to “Pull up your pants and go home!” After pulling our pants up, we cautiously shuffle past her. She looks at us sternly and says, “I’m going to tell your mother on you!”
Several hours later, “A’s” brother calls to tell me his grandmother and sister have gone shopping and he wants me to come over. Shaken by the morning’s events we both want to talk about it. Stealing a cigarette and some matches, we dejectedly crawl under the front porch of the house through the dust, picking our way through rusty cans and broken glass as we go. Finding a clear space we lean against the rough, cold granite of the cellar wall. My friend lights the cigarette, takes the first puff before he offers it to me. I inhale the smoke and gag. It burns my lungs and tastes awful! I can’t imagine why anyone would smoke such a thing unless they felt depressed or scared like us. I hand the cigarette back to my friend with the comment, I hope your grandmother doesn’t tell my mother about what happened this morning. I don’t know how she’d handle it. Then my thoughts turn to my mother because she smokes like a chimney and drinks a lot with my stepfather on weekends.
In my mind’s eye I watch my mother vacuum the carpet in the living room with her new Electrolux vacuum cleaner and scrub the linoleum floor in the kitchen with a mop. An ever-present cigarette sticks out the right side of her mouth as she bends over working. To keep the rising smoke from getting into her eyes, she twists her mouth around to the right unnaturally and turns her head to the right while squinting her right eye. Why does she put up with something as obnoxious as cigarette smoke? Why does she, my stepfather, and their friends drink alcohol and get so drunk on the weekends? I’ve seen alcohol lead to fights and give people terrible hangovers. I’ve also seen how heavy drinking can produce smelly diarrhea.
I take one more puff off the cigarette to remind myself how awful it is and hand it back to my friend who also takes a final pull off it before putting it out. Together, we crawl out from under the porch even more depressed. What I discovered in the attic was exciting and seemed to be a natural act of self discovery but smoking a cigarette was just plain awful! What’s wrong with this world?
Although we (my mother, stepfather, three brothers and me) only lived on Dow Avenue for a year, it was an eventful year for all of us (See: What I Learned in Catholic School). My biological father died after I turned four and for almost a year, before my mother remarried, she had, with the help and encouragement of one of her sisters and her sister’s husband, purchased and run an IGA grocery store in Mechanic Falls, Maine. After mom married my stepfather, we moved back to Lewiston. Besides my experience in Catholic School and the experience described above, during that year on Dow Ave., I had to wear mittens to prevent me from chewing my fingernails down to the quick. The big event, though, was the day I burned our barn down.
It happened quite innocently, really. One day my older brother Dicky took me down the hill towards the creek so we could enter the area under the barn where some old, loose hay was stored. He pulled some stick matches out of his pocket and told me he had been trying to light the hay on fire for some time but it wouldn’t burn. To demonstrate this, he lit a match and stuck it in the hay. Sure enough, it wouldn’t burn. This piqued my curiosity, so the next day I went under the barn to try it myself. Wouldn’t you know, the hay caught on fire as soon as I stuck a match to it. I tried stamping it out with my foot and then my jacket but the flames just kept getting bigger and bigger. In a panic I ran into the house and asked my mother for the broom. She asked me what I wanted it for and in desperation, I said, I want to sweep the driveway, which was lame because it was dirt and cinder rocks. She challenged me on that point but I was insistent and she finally relented, letting go of the broom.
Once out of sight, I ran to the room under the barn. The flames had grown significantly in my absence and I started beating them as fast and hard as I could with the broom. Suddenly someone screamed. It was the woman who lived in the house across the creek from us. she could see into the opening of our barn from her porch. She had come out to hang some clothes and saw me madly beating the flames under the barn. Screaming my name, she told me to get out of the barn before running back into her house to call the fire department. She also called my mother. Realizing I was fighting a losing battle and knowing I was going to catch hell for it, I ran out around the back of the barn and then the house. The living room window on the back side of the house was unlocked so I climbed in as the fire trucks began to arrive, their sirens wailing loudly. Pulling the couch out from the recess in the wall, I climbed in behind it and pulled it back in against the wall.
Neighbors began arriving at the same time as the fire trucks. Meanwhile, from my hiding place behind the couch I could hear my mother crying and screaming my name from the kitchen. I was nowhere to be seen and she was totally distraught as any mother would be. On my hands and knees behind the couch, I didn’t know what to do. For what seemed like a long time she screamed and cried while the neighbors tried to comfort her. Then, there was an awkward silence and one of the women tending her exclaimed, “She’s fainted!” I couldn’t take it any more! I had to let her know I was still alive. Entering the kitchen, I saw my mother slumped over in a kitchen chair in the middle of the room with several neighbor women standing around her in sympathy and to keep from falling on the floor. She was unconscious from the shock of losing one of her sons. The women tending my mother were shocked and relieved when they saw me. They shook her to wake her up. When she opened her eyes, I put my arms around her and told her I was sorry. She was so happy and relieved to see me, she hugged me tightly and started crying all over again while I continued to apologize to her for what happened.
When the Fire Chief heard I was alive and inside the house, he came in and asked me to step outside with him. He wanted me to tell him what happened. I told him all the sordid details, and about how I tried to put the fire out with a broom. when the neighbor across the creek screamed and ran into the house to call the fire department, I told him I panicked and ran out of the barn to find a place to hide. When I heard that my mother had fainted with sorrow, I came out from behind the couch. Satisfied I had no malicious intention, he warned me about the danger of fire. He said he thought I had learned an important lesson and that I wouldn’t do that again. I agreed with him and after that he said: “I’m glad you’re still alive.” He was a nice man and I apologized to him for the trouble I caused.
That night I expected to get a beating from my stepdad because he used the barn to store many valuable things. Everything in the barn had been destroyed, including a racing sulky and some harness for his race horse, Easter Cash. But all he did was look at me with a combination of shock and relief in his eyes. He was clearly upset about losing so many expensive things but, in deference to what my mother had already been through, he kept quiet. I think he was also relieved I hadn’t died in the fire like everyone first thought. Was any of this related to the death of my biological father a year or so earlier? I don’t know; he was very distant. He didn’t hug us and he seldom hold us, he was just there (see: Baby’s Defining Moment).
Pete – http://realtalkworld.com
We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having (creating) a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
“How you define yourself and the world around you, forms your intent, which, in turn, forms your reality.” – Seth
In other words, we create our reality from what we choose to believe about ourselves, and the world around us.
If we don’t consciously choose our beliefs, we UNconsciously absorb them from our surroundings.
If our beliefs, attitudes, values and expectations create our reality, can we afford not to question them?
The more we love, understand and appreciate ourselves, the better we treat ourselves, and the world.
The secrets of the universe lie hidden in the shadows of your experience. Look for them!