One of my earliest memories:
It's a warm night in the springtime. We're living on Randolph Street in Garrett, Indiana, so I must be about four years old. My bedroom window looks out on the alley and then the back yard of the house in the next block, where there's a little grey-stone patio.
It's late, long after bedtime, but I'm still awake. I go to the window. Across the alley, some teenagers are sitting in green-striped lawn chairs on the patio, in kind of a circle, listening to a boy play the guitar and sing.
Mrs. Brown, you've got a lovely daughter.
Girls as sharp as her are something rare.
He is facing my direction. Maybe he is singing to me!
I know I'm not anybody's daughter, but he said "lovely." That means he loves me!
I push against the wire screen. It must be broken -- it comes off easily. I push myself out of the window, and land on the hard, warm grass. The teenage boy keeps singing, looking in my direction.
|Our house on Randolph Street|
Walkin' about, even in a crowd, well
You'll pick her out, makes a bloke feel so proud
He's seen me walking around!
I walk across the back yard. My new boyfriend is cute! He is wearing a pale orange shirt and short pants, and sandals.
Don't let on, don't say she's broke my heart
I'd go down on my knees but it's no good to pine
Next comes the alley, all gravel, hard and sharp against my bare feet. But I'm willing to endure it to let him know that it's ok, I won't break his heart again. .
Then suddenly the music stops. The teenagers are all staring at me. I hear murmuring "Look, it's a kid!" "Where'd he come from?" "Is he lost?"
They are interrogating me, accusing me. Scared, embarrassed, I start to cry.
The screen in the window is fixed the next day.
I don't remember ever seeing my "boyfriend" again.
I've always thought of "Mrs. Brown, You've Got a Lovely Daughter" as a gay song, though I can't really find any gay subtexts in it, and Herman's Hermits is my least favorite boy band.