SHITTY LITTLE TEVYE, BIG BROTHER, 1980
365体育投注I liked dinner with my parents and their friends in the dining room. The chairs were large and hard to move. Whenever I had to go to the bathroom, I would crawl my way under the table to get there.
Some of the adults, as I brushed against their legs, made surprised sounds and said jokey things.
“Is there a dog in here? I didn’t know you had a dog!”
“This house must be haunted. A ghost touched my leg!”
365体育投注I knew they knew I knew they were pretending. We were all in on the joke together, people.
Once, we people were in the middle of the joke, and my father said, “Honey,” to my mom in his hard voice. He didn’t like that I was under the table.
After using the toilet, I stepped up on the crate and washed my hands twice so my father would be proud of me. Then I remembered he couldn’t see everything. He wouldn’t know what I’d done unless I told him. And I knew that if I told him he’d tell me not to show off, so I decided I would sing. Singing beat twice-washed hands by a mile.
My father’s favorite song was not “If I Were a Rich Man,” from “Fiddler on the Roof,” and yet, for some reason, I thought it was. I knew half the chorus and I thought I had a pretty good dance that went with it, a chicken-looking dance where you flapped your bent arms and threw sideways punches while stepping high or jumping.
Returning from the bathroom, I danced that dance and sang the half chorus:
365体育投注Except for my dad, the adults found it cute. You could tell by their smiles. My dad smiled, too, and said, “O.K.,” a few times, but he didn’t mean it. It wasn’t O.K.
I knew it was best to quit while ahead, so, after three more half choruses, I ceased to sing and dance, stopping on the biddy preceding the bum!, and dove below the table.
It was there, amid the legs, that I made my mistake. The adults were clapping, saying, “Adorable” and “So creative,” and I thought the greatest thing would be to give them an encore. I thought it would be both funny and musical to start singing again from the bum! I’d abandoned. The part of the dance that went with the bum! was the part where you jumped, so I did that, also. My head struck the table, silver clanged china, I fell on a woman’s unshod foot—our carpet was white—and the woman shrieked, the shriek became a giggle, and my father said, “Adam. Goddammit. Adam.” He was back to the hard voice. But the woman kept giggling and my mom was giggling, too, so I thought I could win.
365体育投注I came out from under the table, clutching my head, faking a limp, and I turned to all the adults with a cry-face. The women made cooing sounds and their husbands said things like “Hey now, buddy,” and “You sang that one great, pal.”
365体育投注As soon as I sensed the fakeout losing power, I tucked my fists in my armpits and launched again into “Rich Man.”
My father stood and pointed at the ceiling. He said that I had to go to my room. My mother said, “Honey,” to my father in her hard voice. My father told my mother, “He’s acting like an idiot.” My father told me, “A real fucking idiot.”
365体育投注A few months later, my parents brought my sisters home. I didn’t know which name belonged to which sister. The one who’d been yellow through the window in the hospital was no longer yellow. She was smaller than the other one, but except for that they looked the same, and you couldn’t see the difference in size in their faces.
365体育投注My dad had set them down at either end of the couch, still in their car seats, and I ran back and forth from one to the other, kissing each on the cheek and saying, “I love you, Rachel,” and “I love you, Paula.” I did this partly because my mother was watching and she thought it was cute. Also, though, I meant it. Their features were huge.
One sister would be mine, but I didn’t know which. My mom said it was up to me. That was our deal.
365体育投注A few days later, I chose Rachel, the smaller one. Her eyebrows did a thing when she cried—a kind of inward and upward creeping and thickening—that seemed to signal some kind of intention, which made her more real, and I’d rush to hug her. When Paula cried, she looked like an animal.
365体育投注A puppet on a show I liked to watch in the morning was down at the mouth and sitting on a boulder. Hesitantly, almost as a question, the puppet remarked, “I think, therefore I am.” It leaped to the ground and repeated the phrase less tentatively. Then it smiled and paced and chanted the phrase with increasing conviction until, at last, its pacing turned to dancing and the chant became a song the puppet sang to the tune of “The Farmer in the Dell.”