• Gene Goldfarb

My Life in 11 Acts, Three Chapters, and an Epigraph


Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons

If we are able to resist our passions, it is more due to their weakness

than our strength.

—François de La Rochefoucauld

Act I I am born (entering stage center). Such a momentous event that.

I cry.

Act II (Move ahead three years.) I slide down an empty, glistening coal

chute on a sunny day. Very exciting and fun, so I do it again.

Act III (Skip seven years.) The teacher says I’m “just a little boy with a

few scattered facts.” I disagree. She just doesn’t know any geography, and takes it out on me. How was I to know

she ‘s only impressed by children able to recite Tom Edison’s life as a newspaper sales boy on the railroad?

Act IV (I move into my formative years.) I come to realize that my father is cheap but good-hearted, my mother an emotional

wreck who escapes into work, work, work, and that I don’t talk to my older sister, but love the younger one.

Act V (A year or two later.) My father comes into a little extra money because of a friend’s death, actually a suicide for the most logical reason in the

world: he couldn’t stand life anymore. So we can

now take summer vacations at a bungalow colony in the Catskills. I’m starting to feel middle-class. I catch a glimpse of my best friend’s mother’s tit fly out of her bathrobe for a second like a fugitive trying to escape, and I realize these are moments to be eternally savored.

Act VI (Maybe six months later.) I discover jerking off one night, all by myself. This is literally explosive. Ah, sweet mystery of life!

Act VII (Move to my college years.) I finally recognize life is a two-way street—one side of the street goes toward getting happy, and

the other side heads to unhappiness, and you’re always on that

street moving in one of these directions.

Act VIII The next years move in blur. (You’re on center stage running

against the direction of a spinning carousel in a breathless montage where you alternately pick up and discard objects

and insanely go back and forth blowing kisses then cursing people.)

Act IX I get married and “settle down” (entering stage right, exiting

stage left several times) as if making imaginary progress, but still getting older relatives to beam with pride.

Act X (Skip a few years.) Children come along, and now you are a

mostly contented beast of burden. There’s a wildness in you you still haven’t been able to fully tame. So you bide your time.

Act XI (Now another dozen or so years go by and the stage’s somehow grown smaller). And little people who didn’t exist a few years earlier are calling you grandpa and struggling for your attention.

Chapter 1 Now What?

You are now ready to strike out on your own, really on your own. Only guilt hobbles you, but you realize there is still something to lose: security, comfort, and you don’t have the energy you once enjoyed.

Chapter 2 Plan v. Paralysis

You try to conceive of a plan to do exactly what you want, but there are still potentially high costs that you have to mentally confront. Family will try to hem you in every step of the way. You may want adventure and romance, on a limited scale of course, but you must realize the chances are you will mostly sleep with a phone and be expected to make timely reports.

Chapter 3 You Are Getting Sleepy...

You think too much about the educated men in the white suits who keep telling you about your numbers and diagnoses. They can be real downers and avoiding them proves more difficult as time goes on. Still, they actually get you to look forward instead of reflexively behind you. But don’t be hypnotized by them. Plan, execute, even if you have to die alone. Tough!

Gene Goldfarb, a Long Islander, does volunteer work, and loves writing and travel. His poems have recently appeared in Quiddity an COG; his blogs have appeared in Black Fox Literary Magazine, and he's had short stories debut on Bull & Cross and Furtive Dalliance.