I'M SO SORRY, PETER
3 March 2005
"This Fish Needs a Bicycle" has an entry that starts, "When I was a kid, I was something of a liar..."
I remember it as if it were yesterday. We were standing on the Leavenworth Street hill, near the flat where I lived. Stephen, Peter and I. They were my neighborhood playfriends. We did lots of things together, as I remember it. I remember we used to play baseball in the courtyard of the apartment building Stephen's parents (owned? managed?). It was a narrow concrete courtyard. "Home base" was right under my parents' kitchen window. The front door of our flat was around the corner from the apartment, but the kitchen window looked out over the courtyard.
First base was a bump in the concrete wall halfway down the courtyard. Second base was the back wall, third base was the bannister of the stairs leading up to the apartments and then back home again.
We had no bats and used tennis balls. We would hit the ball with our flattened forearm. I'm sure I wasn't very good at it. I was always lousy at sports.
But on this day, we were doing something else. I don't remember what exactly happened. It seems that I was trying to pull a sweater over Peter's eyes and he was trying to get away and in the process he scratched my face. I started bleeding or something and ran home.
I was terrified. I don't know how old I was--old enough to remember this incident, but really not that old. If I was even in school, it was in the lower grades.
My father was prone to rages and we all went out of the way to avoid provoking him, my mother, my sister and I. The rages never produced physical violence, but very definitely verbal violence and then long periods of silence that hurt more than anything else, especially when you knew you were to blame.
So I went home. And I lied. I told him that Peter had attacked me.
My father went storming over to Peter's house to yell about how he had nearly put out my eye. Though Peter denied that he had done anything to me, my father raged on about how he had attacked me. My father didn't just "get angry," he got angry in that way that if you ever were the brunt of his anger and didn't have to experience it again, you just wouldn't.
I recall that Peter's family lived in that apartment house for a few more months? years? but they never spoke with my parents again. There were no more joint social events.
My father questioned me again. Was I sure that Peter was to blame? By now I was terrified that he'd find out that (a) I had been to blame, and (b) I had lied about it, so I maintained my innocence.
In all the time that Peter continued to live near us, the rift between his parents and mine hung heavy on my conscience. I was relieved when they finally moved away, but all these years I've felt very guilty about what I did to poor Peter.
My father has been dead for nearly 20 years now and I think it's finally safe to confess. I don't have to fear "the silent treatment" any more because he hasn't said anything in a very long time.
So, Peter--if you ever happen to stumble across this journal, here is my apology. It was my fault and I'm so sorry that I lied about you.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Peter and me
for the Lawsuit Song of the Day