String-Boy and random memories


On the street today I passed a mother and her small child. The mother was carrying several full bags, and a large bouquet of flowers. The child held the hem of her jacket with one hand. With the other he held the end of a string. The other end of the string dragged along behind him. How clever, I thought, a pet string. The boy jumped over each crack in the sidewalk. It was obvious that he’d attained lift-off only recently as his jumping was low and precarious. The string followed docilely.
I envied the possession of a pet string. It was certainly low maintenance and obedient as pets go.
My own children had dogs growing up. The dogs were congenial but required food, exercise, bathing, and medical care. I have friends who have cats, but I feel something sinister about the “domestication” of felines…I do not discuss cats.
I once knew someone whose girlfriend had a monkey. The monkey wasn’t pleasant to be around. Because the monkey had bitten several of her guests in the past, the girlfriend kept him in a cage when she had visitors. There was something disturbing about this woman as well as her pet…Perhaps a bit of her persona had slipped into her pet’s subconscious because they both both seemed unstable. I was happy to slip away from them. I never went back.
The only pet I was allowed as a child, was a turtle. Other kids in our apartment complex had turtles and we amused ourselves by racing them. That’s how desperate we were.
When I was the string-boy’s age, I had invisible friends who may or may not have been human-ish. I know some of them were very tiny and lived in my ear. I took them out to entertain me when I was bored and there were no turtles to race.
I was the sort of child that would have enjoyed a pet string. I see how it could be entertaining. Beside walking it, you could twirl it, jump it, pull things with it, make Cat’s Cradles…use it as whip, fishing line…you see where this is going.
I was a quiet child and liked simple tasks, cutting paper dolls, arranging doll furniture in block houses, composing rhymes. I did a fair amount of threading buttons on yarn or string while my mother sewed. How surprising that I never bonded with the string.

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