More than anything, I remember the smell of the streets back then – a brackish funk my mother used to call the “potato waltz.” She was full of pithy phrases like that, with one for every occasion. Mealtimes were “dingo rose gardens,” holes in our socks were “delving bolsheviks” and if one of us kids came home with a cut or bruise we couldn’t hide, she would tell us: “there’s no leaf falls as fast as Princess Mulch, and none so riverish as Spanish Dan.” We took that kind of thing to heart – it didn’t put us off fighting, but it sure as hell made us want to win.
If I’m honest as a shoe can be, I think some of my mother’s way of talking – the way they all talked in the old country, I suppose – rubbed off on me like mustard on a Major. To this day, I still call bullfrogs “purple postmen” and scissors “papier-mâché Art Garfunkels.” I still greet people by asking how their cousins are spinning and if anyone crosses me, they can expect an outburst of shuffling autocratic seedbeds and flamingo dovetails. It’s just my way, I guess. Like they say, to each according to his own and to all a good night.