A family recipe, a childhood memory, a Depression-era handout
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When he was very young, he waved his arms, snapped his massive jaws, and tromped around the house so that the dishes trembled in the china cabinet. “Oh, for goodness’ sake,” his mother said. “You are not a dinosaur! You are a human being!” Since he was not a dinosaur, he thought for a time that he might be a pirate. “Seriously,” his father said to him after school one day, “what do you want to be?” A fireman, maybe. Or a policeman. Or a soldier. Some kind of hero.
But in high school they gave him tests and told him he was good with numbers. Perhaps he’d like to be a math teacher? That was respectable. Or a tax accountant? He could make a lot of money doing that. It seemed a good idea to make money, what with falling in love and thinking about raising a family. So he became a tax accountant, even though he sometimes regretted it, because it made him feel, well, small. And he felt even smaller when he was no longer a tax accountant, but a retired tax accountant. Still worse: a retired tax accountant who forgot things. He forgot to take the garbage to the curb, to take his pill, to turn his hearing aid on. Every day it seemed he forgot more things, important things, like where his children lived and which of them were married or divorced.
Then one day, when he was out for a walk by the lake, he forgot what his mother had told him. He forgot that he was not a dinosaur. He stood blinking his dinosaur eyes in the bright sunlight, feeling its familiar warmth on his dinosaur skin, watching dragonflies flitting among the horsetails at the water’s edge.
Bruce Holland Rogers