In kindergarten Mrs. Wallner would start each day asking if it was anyone’s birthday. At least once a week it would be some ones. They had elevated status for the day. Mrs. Wallner would have them sit up next to her and would sing Happy Birthday to them. At story time they would sit next to her again on a bench while the rest of us sat on the floor. They got to wear a crown made of yellow construction paper. Mrs. Wallner let them choose a cookie form the jar on her desk.
I was born on December twenty first. It was after Christmas vacation started. I would not get my chance to be the birthday king. A few months after we went back to school, I decided I would have my turn. She asked if anyone was having a birthday today. I raised my hand up. She looked at me strangely, but asked me up to the front. Everyone clapped when Mrs. Wallner put the crown on my head and sang to me. I had my cookie. I got the story that was just for me. After class she asked me to stay and talk to her. She asked if it was actually my birthday and that if it wasn’t I should tell her the truth. I said it wasn’t my birthday and begged her not to tell my parents. She swore she wouldn’t.
I got my first girlfriend in kindergarten. Her name was Noel. She used to show me her underwear on the playground. We would sit under the monkey bars and kiss when no one was looking. On my real birthday she came to my house and gave me a brown and white tank top.
Living in San Pedro there wasn’t a lot of places to play. We played in an old cemetery and construction sites. It was the 70’s and there wasn’t a whole lot of security at the sites. Once the crew was done for the day, we would invade. We would run around the half built structures and play Hide and Seek.
When I was five we had our choice of two sites to play on. The first one was on 24th street. Every kid in the neighborhood knew that was our site. No one else could play there but us. The other was on some street that intersected 23rd and 24th. We didn’t play there much, a bunch of teenagers hung out at that one.
We decided we wanted to claim it as our own. We walked up to the teenagers and told them we were going to play there. “Fuck you babies” was the response. They said they will beat us up if we stayed. We turned and ran.
WHAM! Something smacked the back of my head. I fell face first in the street.
“Shit man you hit him!”
“Let’s get the fuck out of here before he tells on us.”
Hal and Joey picked me up. My back was all wet. I put my hand on the back of my head. I looked at my hand. It was covered in matted hair and blood. There was a broken beer bottle next to my feet. The bastard threw a beer bottle at a five year old kid. Hal yelled out to the teenagers that we are going to kill them. I started crying. Hal and Joey walked me home. My mom threw me in the back seat and we drove to the emergency room. The nurse shaved the back of my head and comforted me. The Dr. came in and cleaned the cut out. He kept squirting water into and spreading it open looking for glass. It hurt like hell.
He stitched me up and I was on my way home.
I got sit in the library for recess for the next couple days.
First grade started. Noel was in my class again. We sat next to each other and held hands. It was raining one day and we couldn’t go out to play. Mrs. Kanouse played disco records in the class at recess time and told us to dance for some exorcise. I walked up to Noel so we can dance. She said she didn’t like me anymore and was in love with Joey. I sat back down at my desk while Noel and Joey danced.