Day In the Life
The days are good when you’re
four. It’s the best year in anyone’s life, if you ask me. Too
young to go to school or work, but old enough to remember things.
When I was four, there was no such thing as school. School was next
year, and next year was a kazillion stone throws away, in my mind.
It’s much better not having lived a decade than having lived eight
and worrying about your life insurance. Instead, I spent my days
outside the apartment, developing a tan but hopefully not skin
This summer morning started
off no different than the others.
As I traverse down the cold, gray concrete steps of my cold, gray
concrete apartment, I begin to ponder the cornucopia of wonderful
activities I will soon partake in. Stepping outside though, my
thoughts escape me like a newspaper in the wind. Attention spans are
for old people, after all.
I turn my thoughts to the
undulation of urbanites walking along the sidewalk, the pack of
cyclists cycling in the path and the never-ending swarm of cars. I
glance up at the towering figures that cast shadows on me, and
wonder how I will ever grow to be their size. It was exciting enough
to get me wishing I were old enough to go through puberty
and labor in school
and write meaningless essays
and eat ramen for four
straight months after college just so I could be as tall as they
In the scorching heat of the
midday the sidewalk steams, and far away objects seem to melt and
ooze. It’s like looking through the steam pouring from a boiling
Through the hazy mirage, I
spot my savior: an ice cream vendor. I tug at my mother’s sleeve
and whine softly (I possessed a tremendous skill in the art of
hint dropping from an early age, you see).
“Gee, mom. I’m really
She looks at me. “I guess
you want an ice cream bar.”
Works every time.
As I approach the vendor’s
vast white cart (large enough to stuff six little kids into, or
maybe seven skinny ones), I automatically recite my favorite flavor—red
A squall of water mist escapes the vendor’s cart, dissipating in
the hot and humid air.
Well, at least the world will
be a tiny bit cooler now.
Even though I was only four, I
felt I had a sufficient amount of skill in the delicate art of
consuming an ice cream bar. After all, my drop rate was low,
hovering only around 30%.
Soon after depositing the
wrapper in a nearby trashcan, the ice cream bar starts to melt.
Slowly but surely, the mass of melted popsicle oozes onto my
fingers. I quickly try to inhibit its advancement by licking the end
of the stick, but the damage is done; the sticky paste between my
fingers will haunt me until I find some water. Ice cream bar: 1. Me:
Like a cheap balloon, my
sticky-finger worries soon deflate, for through the herd of
lumbering giants, also known as adults, I spot a snack stand.
“Gee, mom,” I whined. “I’m
She sighs. “So I guess you
want some chips...”
We walk to the rectangular
stand, protruding from a nearby building like a Lego block. As I
peruse the bevy of goods, something catches my eye.
“Free Action Figure
Included!” the package proclaims in shiny, purple letters.
“I want that one,” I said.
Chips and an action figure? What a deal!
“Sorry, kid. We’re all
“But you still have one
left,” I said, pointing to the bag being displayed on his stand.
The vendor stares at me funny.
“Sure, kid. You can have that one if you want.”
Being a geek, I decide not to
open the bag until I get home, where I could savor every last greasy
but oh-so-heavenly chip while playing with my brand new action
figure. It was exciting enough to get me wishing I was old enough to
get a job
and pay taxes
and go to jury duty
and mortgage a house just so I
could buy all the chips with action figures included that I wanted.
At home, I take a pair of
scissors from the drawer, cut open the bag, and peer inside.
The vendor had sold me an
To this day, I still cannot
figure out how that happened. It really gets me fuming. I was only
four, but I wasn’t dumb; an empty bag is an empty bag… But back
then, I thought nothing of it. What
was there to be angry about? I
was back home, Tom and Jerry was on, and soon after that,
dinnertime! It was exciting enough to get me wishing I was old
enough to be able to cook
and mow the lawn
and fix the gutters every
spring just so I could watch all the TV I wanted.
Only now do I realize my
SIDA LI is a high school student in Massachusetts. Around school he is also known as Seeds, Hulk Hands, and Reptile, but people usually call him Peter. He constantly wonders why being the only boy in school who does not complete essays on the last day before they're due does not net him more A's (or at least A-'s. Come on now). His friends also constantly remind him that his first name is not only an anagram for "AIDS", but is also the word for AIDS in French.