I've wanted to write about Johnny for at least twenty years. So I'm going to start with bits and pieces on the blogsite, one at a time, and see if they take me anyplace. If they take YOU anyplace, do let me know. All of this is true, and most of it actually happened this way.
My mother dragged me, kicking and screaming, to my first visit with Johnny.
Not literally, of course. At fourteen, I would never have given her the satisfaction of such an engaged response. Instead, I sighed often and melodramatically, nearly hyper-ventilating.
I rolled my eyes, shook my head in disgust, and stood as far as possible from her at the corner bus stop, one hip cocked out impatiently.
Esther (sometimes "Mom," sometimes "Moth-ER," but mostly "Esther" as the most neutral, don't-think-I-care choice) had met Johnny in the course of her work as a practical nurse. She thought I'd enjoy meeting him. As if she would know who or what I'd enjoy, or anything else about me, I had fumed silently.
On the other hand, given my sour frame of mind, even a starving Hannibal Lector wouldn't have cared to meet me. Did Esther ever think about that? Ah, no. Self-deception was our family's dysfunction of choice: not what was, but what you could label it. A comforting label and a deaf ear dismissed most self-doubts. Esther never doubted that she knew what I'd like, or who I was. In any case, here I was on the hot summer day, being hijacked and bussed along dusty Indio Street, the bus farting its way east to a marginally more upscale section of Tucson. (More palo verde trees than our neighborhood, some houses with three bedrooms instead of two, possibly even two cars in the driveway. In 1950, not every car had one car yet.)
Beyond the bus-stop indignity, I don't remember anything more about that first encounter. Probably the fact that Esther turned out to be right for once wiped my initially ugly attitude from my memory. For she was right. I did enjoy meeting Johnny. Truth to tell, I can't think of anything my mother ever did that gave me as much joy, over the long haul, as bringing Johnny and me together.