Cherub Pageant Drop-Out: Origins of an Attention Hog

I’d like to first mention a couple things.  First, I’d like congratulate my fellow confession-er on the birth of his baby girl.  Being that I’m the sole child-less author on this site, procreation continues to hold a certain mystic quality for me, kind of like when I marveled at the pile of presents under the Christmas tree and thanked Santa Clause, never mind the fact of how the talented Mr. Clause managed, even with the ferocious presence of Rocky the rottweiller and the absence of a chimney of any kind, to gain entrance into my house, eat one and a half out of three sugar cookies (choke them down, considering Mommy was busy with her Jane Fonda workout and didn’t notice me add a couple dollops of honey, handful of dog food, five squirts of mustard, and twenty or so shakes of cayenne pepper into the cookie dough), and deliver to all the other children in the world in a span of eight hours.

Since my day for commentary falls at the caboose of the week, I’m allowed both the difficult task of following three very talented writers and the opportunity to comment (shall we say piggy-back, PLC?) on S.C. and the Amys (band name anyone?) blogs.  I find the origin of the Amys’s literary careers fascinating, and knowing them, how they are as women, the path they’ve taken to their current statuses (I really like the non-existent word stati as the plural of statuses) makes a lot of sense to me, but knowing myself, my path to writing is a very different story.

I am the eldest child and I never got over the birth of my brother.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Brian, wouldn’t murder him or anything (cutoff for juvey is 18, right?), but for the first three years of my life I was an only child of two very doting parents and didn’t appreciate the arrival of my brother, this curly-haired, toe-headed, blue-eyed, precocious, demon boy.  I was three years old and if I might say so, pretty adorable, but strangers in restaurants strode from other tables to get a better look at Brian no matter how many spaghetti’s I could stuff up my nose.

Not knowing my motivation then, I’m positive now, that I, being the expert strategist and ardent realist, knew I didn’t stand a chance to capture attention with my looks, so I divined other means in response to this cherub competitor that had been dropped into our house by the stork.  My first choices, if I recall, aligned with my militant nature.  Screaming in the supermarket, taking control of the baby carriage and running it and my brother into a tree, yanking on Cindy the dog’s floppy ears until she snapped at me and ended up getting banished to the basement, not finishing my dinner at a restaurant even after my father’s warning that I’d find the spaghetti in front of me for breakfast the next morning then not eating it the next morning when my father lived up to his threat nor eating it for lunch and pronouncing that I wouldn’t eat it for dinner, forcing my poor mother to take it upon herself to accidently drop the spaghetti container on the floor where it was gobbled up by Cindy, who when discovered by my father with marinara lips was banished to the basement (that poor dog).

Soon, it occurred to me that the drastic negative means of garnering attention were not working to motivate my parents to leave my brother in the hills.  Now, don’t quote me on this, but if I remember correctly, I got the idea of writing from Cardigan Sweater,

who, during one episode sat at his kitchen table and made his own picture book with construction paper and tape.  I think I made the connection then, that a way to capture attention would be to create a story of my own.  I don’t remember the content of my earliest stories, and I asked my mother and she doesn’t remember either, but both of us remember me drawing pictures on pieces of paper and taping them together to form my own books, which I would read to my father and mother (and gramma, grandpa, Uncle Bob, the postman, a lady walking by the house with her dog, the smelly guy sleeping on a bench at the park…).

Throughout my childhood and adolescence, and even now, as a “mature” adult male, I have needed attention, much like a junkie needs smack.  I probably should have been an actor, really, but something about creating stories, books, that will be around long after I die, resonates with who I am.  I’ve come to realize a lot of what drives me to write is fear.  I recall walking through cemeteries with my father, when I was younger, and by myself now, to visit relatives who only exist as ash below the earth’s crust, and feeling a terrible sense that someday I would also be in the ground and a terrible fear that no one will know I existed.

Writing to me is a cry:  Michael was here!!!!

(Even after I’m dead, you better pay attention to me).

As the baby of this blog family (I guess the order really depends on whether you consider Sunday as the first day of the week or Monday), I find myself in the similar position, yet now I’m the littlest clambering for attention against my early week blog siblings.  Maybe this time, I’m the little cherub with golden literary curls.

I say to you, Dear Reader, please join us each week, strap yourself in (foreshadowing elongated car metaphor), let us drive you to thoughtful destinations (okay, this car metaphor is wearing a bit thin), Sundays are my vehicle of expression, so I guarantee you a wild ride (“don’t drive angry, don’t drive angry”).

Join me next Sunday; same time, same station.  In the meantime, I’d love to hear comments about the origins of what made you who you are, what makes you tick.

Thanks for reading.

–Michael Greenwald

[Check me out on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, call me at my house, late-night (HOLLER!!!)].