“When you get born your father and mother lost something out of themselves.”

In writing a 2/20/18 column for Late Last Night Books online magazine, I included the quote, above and below, from Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men. In his momentary thinking, a young man is trying to free himself from what he sees as parental expectations for him.

As a preface, I want to say that my own life experience was quite different from that of Warren’s narrator. I felt my parents wished me the best, but I never felt they cared whether I did one thing or another, as long as they thought whatever I did made me happy or would make me happy. Warren’s narrator had a completely different parental experience, but he expresses himself so well that I want to share his words here:

“When you get born your father and mother lost something out of themselves, and they are going to bust a hame trying to get it back, and you are it. They know they can’t get it all back but they will get as big a chunk out of you as they can. And the good old family reunion, with picnic dinner under the maples, is very much like diving into the octopus tank at the aquarium. Anyway, that is what I would have said back then, that evening.”

The high schooler in the photo above is me.

You can put another candle on my birthday cake this month, if you can find the room. Be careful not to burn yourself trying to light them all.

Care to join me and Judy Collins in wondering Who Knows Where the Time Goes?


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