Today is

   "A word to the wise ain't necessary --  
          it's the stupid ones that need the advice."
					-Bill Cosby

Thursday, August 17, 2006


He wore thick glasses. He had dark hair and a bowl haircut. He had obvious mental disabilities. He was the neighborhood pariah. His name was Sergio.

Even his older brothers made heckling sport of him.

He wasn't often seen. Occasionally he'd be spotted loitering around a group of us or dawdling down the sidewalk by himself. In my entire childhood, it's quite possible that I never said a word to him, even though he lived a mere five houses away. Neighborhoods are a funny thing. You can spend a quarter of your lifetime sleeping and rising 10 yards away from the same people and never even know them.

That's not how it was in our neighborhood, however. The neighborhood of my childhood on Ridge Park Drive in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California in Los Angeles County was, to my memory, a thriving neighborhood of fellowship; especially among the children. Most of us on that street spent our days together, frolicking and stirring up mischief as best we could. We knew each others' homes and parents and mingled among our respective dwellings in a cousin-like manner.

I suppose it was this feeling of fellowship and some sense of peer pressure that made me hesitatingly join my friends as they attempted to pelt Sergio that day with dirt clods.

Our grade-school had a huge, untended field adjacent to it and we often found ourselves venturing out into its dirt, dust, and dried grass to create small adventures for ourselves. So it was here that I came upon three of my good friends flinging their clods at Sergio, who was defenseless and up against a chain-link fence. It was here that I was summoned to join them. It was here that I indeed flung a clod at him.

It is the first thing I can recall ever being ashamed of; even though I immediately put a stop to it as soon as he began to cry.

I don't know why I'm sitting here at night, clicking away and thinking about Sergio and this boyhood villainous act. Maybe it's a clear and benign microcosm eeking its way out of my conscience to represent all of the things for which I'm ashamed. Maybe it's just the mind's fancy, conjuring pieces of my youth so that I will not forget that I was once a child.

I used to wonder, as a child, what it would be like when I was a man and how strange it would be to look back at myself as a child. It's amazing how quickly time passes as I now sit here doing that very thing. Not all childhood memories are pleasant and certainly the memory of Sergio's frightened and crying eyes are rather painful for me. I sit and wonder now at where he might be today...a man. I can only hope that such a memory does not exist in his mind. And if it does, I wonder if he sees my eyes as clearly as I see his.

Do you know me today, Sergio? I hope not. Forgive me.


Blogger Kate Marie said...

I'm sure Sergio would forgive you, WD.

Your reminiscences about Ridge Park brought back lots of neighborhood memories. I decided to post one, too.

August 17, 2006 1:04 PM  
Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Looks like many of us are posting darker memories these days, Wonderdog.

(like mine on that foul Beringer...)

KM, regarding your mention of Lewis's interesting remarks about the 'immortals' among us ... I wonder how Christian (or Jewish or Muslim or whatever) orthodoxy has dealt with this issue of our memories, which recall so many of our failings.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

August 17, 2006 4:59 PM  
Blogger Wonderdog said...

Jeffery, your post about your father actually inspired me to write this one.

Thanks for being such a great read every time I venture over to your blog.

August 18, 2006 7:42 PM  
Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the kinds words, Wonderdog.

I write mindful of the reader over my shoulder, who happens to be God and before whom I must justify myself ... an impossible task, of course, but it helps keep me on my toes.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

August 19, 2006 12:28 AM  

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