I was six years old when I discovered that some adults are saints and others sinners. My mom had made arrangements for me to be picked up after school by my Aunt Rita. She wasn’t a real aunt, but a close family friend; hence earning the distinction of being an honorary aunt. I never much cared for Aunt Rita nor her family. She was a thin, birdlike and nervous woman. She screeched when she talked. And she talked a lot. I could never figure out why my mother was her friend. The two daughters, Naomi and Linda, were quiet and sullen. They weren’t any fun to play with. They never shared their toys. They also didn’t talk too much. George, the father was a tall, cadaverous, cold man. He also hugged a little too long for my tastes. Plus, they were rich. George owned a jewelry store in town. They had new cars, furniture with plastic coverings, and went on long vacations. They even owned two televisions. That was a rarity in the fifties.
At the end of the school day I went outside and walked down to Madison Avenue to wait for Aunt Rita to pick me up. Madison Avenue was, and still is, a busy thoroughfare in Bridgeport. Cars and trucks raced by. I’m waiting, and waiting and waiting. No Aunt Rita. Waiting some more—still no Aunt Rita. Not knowing what to do, I decided to cry, perhaps that would alert Aunt Rita. After five minutes of crying, I’m hysterical. Finally a car stopped. A lady called out to me and asked, “Little boy, why are you crying?” “Because, SNIFF, my Aunt Rita, SNIFF, is suppose to SNORT pick me up, GAG and she’s not here!” The lady looked at me as if she was examining some rare specimen and then said, “Get in the car and I will take you to your Aunt Rita’s.” I’m a naïve six year old, so of course I leaped into the car and settled in. “Do you know where your Aunt Rita lives?” She asked hesitantly. After all, I’m in Kindergarten and only a few years removed from diapers. I then proceeded to turn into NAV BOY! The human GPS. “Okay, lady, make a legal U-turn and proceed west for 3.5 miles. Take a left onto Old Town Road and go two-tenths of a mile. Our destination will be on our right.“ Well, sure enough, we get there in a few minutes. All throughout our journey the lady kept on remarking about my extraordinary sense of direction.
The lady parked the car and we trotted up to the house. The lady rang the doorbell. When Aunt Rita answered the door, she was so surprised to see me that her eyes actually left their sockets. Her mouth opened so far that her lower lip actually touched the top of her knees. Aunt Rita’s complexion turned white, then crimson and finally settled on a nice, soft, pale grey. She then proceeded to whimper that she was so sorry, and completely forgot that she was supposed to care of a six year child. The lady gave me a pat on the head and left. But not after giving a stern lecture to Aunt Rita.
As we walked into the kitchen, I sensed that I really had Aunt Rita at a disadvantage. “Sorry Aunt Rita, two cookies are just not going to be enough for me today. And please make my sandwich with extra jelly. I’m sure it was a mere oversight on your part, But my mom cuts the crust off my bread. I prefer my chocolate milk shaken, not stirred. Also, the extra TV that you have would really look good in my room.”
After a leisurely lunch, Aunt Rita wanted to play a new game with me. It was called Please Don’t Tell Your Mother This Ever Happened. But before she could explain the rules to me, mom rang the bell. Aunt Rita “fessed” up, but tattled on me, telling my mother that I had gotten into a car with a total stranger. A total stranger that also had more sense than Aunt Rita. My mother looked at me with horror and disbelief. She then gave a strange mom invention; a spug. It was a simultaneous spanking and hug. My mom basically kissed and beat the crap out me at the same time. She made me promise never to get into a car with a stranger and then gave Aunt Rita the “this is not over by any stretch of the imagination” look. As we were leaving, I tried to remind Aunt Rita to bring the TV the next she saw us, but she quickly closed the door, relieved that we were gone.
A few years later we learned that old Uncle George was a real comedian. My brother had gotten a part time job at Uncle George’s jewelry store. On his first day on the job, Uncle George called my brother into the stockroom to help him move some stuff. My brother came home looking a little strange. When my mother asked him how his first day on the job was, he replied, “Uncle George is a funny man.” “How so?” Asked my mother. “Did he tell you a joke?” “No.” Replied my brother, “He tried to kiss me, but I said no.” Well that was the shortest retail career my brother ever had. Soon afterwards, George, Rita and the two sullen children moved away. Not long after that, my parents started to hear that there were many other children in town who also thought Uncle George was funny. The police, not known for their sense of humor, arrested Uncle George. He served time with some roommates who most certainly did not share his brand of humor. I don’t know what happened to the daughters, I just hope they never had to laugh at Uncle George’s jokes.