Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Real Me

"Which one is you?"

"What do you mean which one? The one on the left of course."

My wife and I are looking at a series of black and white photographs from my childhood, received via e-mail through the kindness of my cousin in California. The subject in particular is three pictures from the summer of 1967, The Summer of Love. I am the smaller boy on the left, the one with the cap-like crop of platinum blond hair.

My wife is saying that the picture of me is not me. She points to my brother, who is standing by my cousin.

"That's you," she says.

"No, that's Gary. That one is David, standing by Gary. That other one, down there on the left, is me."

She is not convinced.

"That doesn't look anything like you," she says.

"Well people change," I argue. "People get older." Now I'm beginning to sound like Michael Jackson. One nose job, that's it. Maybe two.

At last she surrenders to first hand experience--i.e., to my superior knowledge of who is me and who is not me.

"You were a pretty weird looking kid," she concludes. "I'm glad you grew up."

And I have to admit that she has that part right.

Later that night, lying in bed, she offers one more observation.

"I love you so much," she says. "I mean the you in my head . . . not so much the real you."

I have no response to this. I am simply amazed. Amazed and befuddled. Bewitched, bothered, and bewildered.

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