I was just another tyke at age four, and I remember my first ‘I like girls’ feeling around 1955. I was too young and innocent to say I hated myself at age four. I didn’t know what hate was while I played with Patti. There’d be plenty of other people in my future calendar to demonstrate hate. They would not dare, not at age four. I still fit in as a child fair, even if I did refer to myself as Jim early on.
I liked riding my purple tricycle, and having Patti hop on the back. Her hands were securely on my shoulders, as I pedaled us along in our pretend family. We weren’t fickle or lazy kids. We both toiled to fill a money bag with stones from the backyard at 366 Columbia Street in Hudson, New York. We little girls had a purpose, a mission that smoldered: To get to work at the pocketbook factory. I’d drive in circles in the weedy backyard, until in the weedy backyard we arrived.
On our knees, our screams were joyous, as we made mud pies to throw at the gate and sang: ‘Patty cake, patty cake baker’s man, bake me cake as fast as you can, pit it and pat it and mark with a B and put it in the oven for baby and me.’
It was pure fun. It was endearing, you see? It was not complex – this love I had for tricycle, pretend work, mud pies -- and Patti. I thought the patty-cake song was made especially for her.
But then the joy ended one day when Patty's mother had me at their kitchen table for a sandwich. She scolded me for eating my sandwich the wrong way. I was confused as she yelled. "No! You eat it it from the top, the rounded part first. Don't start from the square bottom." I felt I did something very wrong.
Then Patty's father came home for his lunch, and he went right into his wife's face and started screaming at her, and shoved her shoulder. He looked at me with anger. I didn't know what I did wrong as Patty's mother showed me out to the front porch. I know I felt very bad inside -- Less good in the eyes of Patty's mother. And I never played 'Going to work' with Patty again. She seemed to disappear from the block we lived on.
As disheartening as those moments were to the child I once was, to this very day, I always eat my sandwiches square-end first if they come with a rounded top.