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By Ken White

“What Are Little Boys Made Of?”
What are little boys made of, made of?
What are little boys made of?
‘Snaps and snails, and puppy-dogs’ tails;
And that’s what little boys are made of.

What are little girls made of, made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice, and all that’s nice;
And that’s what little girls are made of.

Mother Goose must not have liked boys. Each time I heard that nursery rhyme growing up, I realized it was true in so many ways, but it made me mad at girls. We were nice, too. We just enjoyed playing in the dirt more. On any given day, little boys were also made of greed, envy, sloth, gluttony, wrath, pride, and lust. Pretty much some variation of all the seven deadly sins. We wanted what we wanted and we wanted it now. We wanted what our friends had. We were lazy and would do as little as we possibly could, for as long as we could. We ate and drank anything and everything, any time we could. We got mad and held grudges forever. We believed the whole world revolved around us and were angry when it didn’t. And we craved what we couldn’t have. My brothers and I were close because we rolled out of the womb one-two-three. I came out butt-first, but that’s another story for a different time. Then Timmy. We did everything together, until Willy arrived. When he was old enough, he became the Third Musketeer. Any time you saw one of us, the other two were lurking nearby. We played sports, explored the neighborhood, victimized small creatures, threw rocks, played Monopoly and Chutes and Ladders, ran through mud puddles, dressed up for Halloween, wore hand-me-downs from older cousins, chased bees and butterflies, teased little girls and sisters, watched TV, played with matches, climbed trees, skinned knees, ran with scissors, caught polliwogs, nearly broke our necks on the Slip ‘n Slide, played Cowboys and Indians and War, got brain freeze from ice cream cones, swam at Playland and in the canals, watched Saturday afternoon Westerns, rode horses at Grampa Owl’s, gigged frogs with Dad, protected each other from older cousins and neighborhood bullies, sang songs, danced dances, and ate everything but peas, Brussels sprouts, and scalloped potatoes. We were boys, and boys being boys, we naturally enjoyed the same things. We were inseparable, until someone got sick or hurt. Then you’d think we had lost an arm or leg. We shared everything. Disneyland, Christmas, family vacations, Easter, friends, bedrooms and bathrooms, school, summer, wagons and bicycles, sports, clothes, enemies, pets, chores, colds, heroes, and our hometown. It was a common experience and shared memory that only the three of us would have. Ever. Nobody could take it away. Ever. We were the only ones who could finish each other’s stories and dream each other’s dreams.

(This is an excerpt from my novel Getaway Day, which was published this past December. I gave copies to my siblings on Christmas Day. All but my younger brother Wendell, who had missed our family Christmas due to illness. He passed away on January 2nd. I’m sorry he never got a chance to read it so he would know how much I loved my little brother.)

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