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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA



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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

86

#86. I was the first grandchild on my mother’s side of the family.

Now, maybe you don’t realize the full implications of this fact. My mother is one of three sisters. For close to thirty years, my grandfather was the only male in the house. He was cast adrift on a sea of estrogen and marooned on a remote, uncharted isle, surrounded by jump ropes and purses and used lipstick dispensers. A male child was big — huge, even. Plus, I was the first child for him — and grandma, and mom and the sisters — to fawn over.

Clearly, I was spoiled.

And yet, I shrunk from the attention. (With a few notable exceptions, which we rarely speak of. Let’s just say the dog was an unwilling but quite effective participant, and leave it at that. It’s best that you don’t know the details. Really.)

For whatever reason, I really didn’t like all the cheek-pinching and cootchie-cooing. Which was unfortunate, because there was a hell of a lot of it there for a while. Sure, by the time I can remember much of anything, both my aunts had had sons, but I was still the first to talk, and walk, and read, and all of that. Really, it was quite a bit of pressure to keep up the string of firsts. My cousins were fairly precocious, you see. And before I was very old, there were two more of them, for four in all. I had to fight them off to get the ‘firsts’ I wanted. Oh, sure, I let them have a few — I passed on ‘first to get up at three in the friggin’ morning to hunt animals‘ and ‘first to get arrested for waving a knife around for no good reason‘. Oh, and ‘first to fake his own kidnapping‘. I let them have that one, too. How gracious was that? I should get a medal or something.

Needless to say, ‘first to graduate college‘ was still on the table when I was ready. It was never really in jeopardy, I’m afraid.

But it was quite a childhood. The adults looked on me to lead by example. Well, except the one aunt and uncle, who were sort of Jesus freaks. They could see early on that I was going straight to hell, I think. But I fooled the rest of them. So it was a lot of responsibility. And in the end, I preferred to sit and read, or play by myself. There really wasn’t a lot I could do for them, I’m afraid.

So maybe I didn’t suffer the full brunt of the first-born syndrome, mainly because I just refused to participate fully. But being the first had its perks, so I guess I made out all right. I was the first one allowed to sit at the ‘big person’ table at Thanksgiving (until the cranberry flinging commenced… yeah, that set me back a couple of years). And the first to leave the nest, and make his way in the world.

Actually, I’m the only one to stay gone, I think. As of now, I’m pretty sure that all four of the others are still near where we grew up. A couple of my cousins are even living with their parents, though they’re well into their twenties and with wives and kids of their own. (Male kids, by the way. Three of them and counting. God help us all.) Oh, wait, though. I don’t want to give you the wrong impression. That ‘living with their parents’ thing isn’t as bad as it sounds. They’re not living in the same house. Oh, my word, no. No, they live in trailers a couple of hundred feet from their parents’ house. Yeah, see, they’ve got their own trailers, down near the pond. They’re just on their parents’ land. It’s like their own little compound.

Um, you know what? Just forget that last part. Go back to thinking they’re living with their parents, squatting in the attic or basement or something. It might be the wrong idea, but Jesus Christ, it’s a helluva lot better. I really wonder about those kids sometimes…

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