I look back 45 years to someone who inadvertently affected my life. Someone who was so inconsequential. He wasn’t a guy I had a crush on. He wasn’t someone I admired. He wasn’t smart nor terribly funny. He was sort of a class clown who wasn’t in my class, school or social. He was the son of my mother’s then best friend, a sort of Kevin Arnold who, as in the series*, wasn’t very wondrous either. Alan Rider**. Kinda cute. He would lie on his back in his carpeted living room, pull up his shirt and tell his dear sweet dog, “Bully, lick my tummy.” I think he was 13 by then. Alan, that is. Bully, short for Bullet, a shepherd collie mix, wasn’t anywhere near there, and he had far more sense than to tongue Alan’s pudgy navel. Looking back on this pubescent ritual, it amazes me that I, or anyone else for that matter, could take Alan’s opinions seriously. But that is just what I did the day we tried to form a social club. We – Alan, Iris, her brother Stuey (rhymes with Suey) and me – were batting around tightening up our little bowling group when I saw how hopeless it all was. As with most things nowadays, there was no leadership! And for the first time in my short life, I rose to the challenge, only to be swatted down by The Tummy Titillator. (Oh wait, that last word probably came into play a good year or decade later for the young master.) Alan boldly announced that no one had put me in charge, immediately snuffing out my just-struck candle. (I hadn’t flicked a Bic yet.) And that was the end of that. I left with an omelette on my face. I guess I should’ve left when Iris arrived, as she was so fond of her “eckies,” a food I’ve always deplored. Allergic to sulphur, two strikes were already against me. Most fortunately, Bullet wasn’t. I learned that day to never appoint yourself anything without putting it to a vote. And now I realize how that philosophy held me back my entire life. Bless the write-in presidential ballot.
* The Wonder Years
** name changed to protect identity