The stigmata

St. Francis receiving the stigmata.

This is a true story. Probably the most positive if not the only positive experience[1] in my childhood happened to me when I was in the first semester of the second grade (1952?). I distinctly remember the classroom had one wall of high windows. I must have had a pupil's desk. It was a big old fashioned brick school building. My classroom was on the second floor. My first grade class had been in a two-room schoolhouse on the same school property. The only other thing I remember about that school is that we had an air raid drill, where, probably, we students took cover in the hall.

It must have been early afternoon because the windows faced East and the sun was no longer coming in thru the windows. It was a sunny day. The teacher had to leave the room for a few minutes. We students were all alone in the room without any adult supervision. The teacher must have assigned us something to do like maybe writing down on a piece of paper the numbers from one to whatever.

Somehow I found myself standing and looking at the palm of my left hand, into which my No. 2 pencil had been stabbed. Not too deep. No blood. But there was either a piece of graphite from the pencil or just a graphite mark in my palm. (The stigmata.) I experienced a kind of open quiet space, unlike my ordinary experience of existence in my social surround. There was a gray mark in my palm for at least a couple decades after then, into my early adulthood. he mark is gone now, some 65+ years after the event. End of story.

What did his parents and school teachers reassure Jesus Christ as he was hanging on the cross? "It's no big deal."

Did it actually happen? I cannot prove it. The mark in the palm of my hand has been gone for at least 20 years if not 40. Because nobody ever valued my experiences, I learned to not value my experiences, so nothing ever came of this experience, presuming it did occur, except that I remembered it ever since, and, also, I remember it fondly, not wishing it had never happened, like say, I wished my parents would have stopped intruding me and forcing me to get haircutted and to smile and not squint with the bright sun in my eyes when they wanted to take self-portraits of their self-romanticized self-images in the form of my little body standing still for my father's Argus C-3 as a child.

What did it mean? Maybe it could have been the beginning of a good life of leisured study. No worry, it did not lead to anything. It's like if Mr. Socrates took his special aperitif and walked down to Piraeus, enjoyed his drink, walked into the water where nobody would see him, and college kids today wouldn't have to idolize that dude.

Something else I remember from my childhoodwinking

Something from a totally asexual comic book. I was only allowed to see totally asexual things because I was childreared to be totally asexual by my prig-prude childrearers. Anyway, the cartoon: It shows a little boy all enthused about maybe getting in the mail today: some toy, probably a model kit, that he had ordered. He rushes out to the mailbox, and it's there! ~ He runs back home to get on with playing with his prize. In his happy hurrying zeal, he trips and falls and the whole thing is smashed beyond repair. End of cartoon.

My other good childhood memory (which has stayed with me)

My other good chidhood memory is from the 3rd grade. My class went up to the brightly sunlit 2nd floor library of Mary Mumford School. There the librarian gathered us around the checkout desk, and she showed us kids how to properly open a new book without breaking it spine. (This, of coure, only applies to books with "sewn in signatures", not ones where the pages are just held together by being glued to the side edge.)

You get a big clean table and you rest the book on it's spine with the whole book standing upright at 90 degrees. Then, going from each side to the other, you press down a few pages on the table, until you have pressed down all the pages and th ebook is resting on th table at approximately its middle page. Close the book and you are done. A kind of small bibliographical sacrament.

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  1. There was at least one other positive experience in my childhood: When, by surprise, my father's brother visited us one day in his base model 1961 Porsche 356 automobile. I was immediately struck by its beauty. He took me for a short ride in it. There was nothing like that car in my surround. It is sad to be able to come up with only two items in my whole time on earth until I graduated form the preparatory school that I really felt good about. There were some other things whish were "OK", but most things and people in my social surround were forgettable and many were negatives. If, at any time, my two parents would have disappeared forever and I had been provided with a good housekeeper, I would not have missed those two people one bit. I still would have been bored, with little in my life that (or, a fortiori, who) appealed to me to engage with it; St. Paul's School for Boys did nothing to furnish the cultural emptiness of my Potemkin life-space, where, when I looked at other people's houses I often did not imagine there were lives being lived inside; I noticed things like the bricks a house was built with, or whether there was a window at a height which indicated there might be a staircase. I wanted to live in a house with an interesting floorplan – not s big house: an interesting house, and there was one that looked interesting two doors from where we lived when I was in 5th grad, which may even have been smaller than our house, but more interesting. If I had not had the "I.Q. points" to throw sops to the Cerebruses, what would have happened to the child is probably unthinkable, because only what is able to be put into discursive language can be thought. The sorrow and the pity.

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