10-پیت موذیکتاب: زندگی در چند بخش / فصل 10
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متن انگلیسی فصل
I was the kid who always looked for the shortcut, the scammer, the trickster. I was the mischief maker. If there was a way to shirk responsibility, I’d find it. Somewhere along the way, my family nicknamed me Sneaky Pete.
And especially during my teenage years, I lived up to the name. In woodshop class, the teacher asked me what I would like to make for my final. I was feeling estranged from my mother, so I decided to try to bridge the gap by building her a chessboard tabletop, one of a half dozen approved projects. Though I was devoid of much talent in the woodworking department, the piece came out pretty well. I bought professionally lathed legs, attached them to the top, and voilà! I presented the finished product to her. Hey, Mom. I made something for you.
The look on her face. She was elated. I hadn’t seen her so happy since my single-digit years, before my father left. I hadn’t been receiving a lot of praise or nurturing, so genuine appreciation and marvel at what she perceived to be my skill and craftsmanship was pure joy. Joy all around.
One day I walked into the living room and she was proudly showing off the table to a friend, running her hand along the legs like a game show hostess displaying the grand prize. Bryan made these, she exclaimed. So beautifully designed. My son, she said.
I was about to interject with a clarification that actually I’d only made the chessboard, but the friend was impressed, which made my mom even more jubilant. I was caught somewhere between smiling and throwing up. I wanted to say: I didn’t make those legs! Look at them. They’re perfect! They could only have come from a professional mill. How could she not know that? I told her I made her a chess table. I assumed that she would understand that meant I made the table’s top. But I couldn’t bear to correct her. She wasn’t happy very often—for the rest of her life, really—and I didn’t want this little run to end. So, from that moment on, I just nodded when anyone asked if I made the table. She kept that thing for years and every time we had a guest, she’d wax on about my craftsmanship. I’d just nod and smile, starting to get comfortable with my lie.
Throughout high school I got sneakier and sneakier. I somehow connived to obtain two student-ID cards; both pictured me, but my alter ego was named Bill Johnson (I picked a name I could easily remember). My idea was that if I got into trouble, I could throw the authorities off Bryan Cranston’s scent by handing them Bill Johnson’s ID card. Bryan was in twelfth grade, Canoga Park High class of ’74. But Bill was class of ’75, a junior. I didn’t want any confusion. I considered every detail.
I belonged to no school clubs or organizations, but on photo day my best friend, Sergio Garcia, and I inserted ourselves into a good many group shots. There we were among the Knights and Ladies. And standing tall with the proud members of the Chemistry Club. We were also handsome cub reporters on the Hunter’s Call, the school paper. The other kids actually took part in something; they learned about science or journalism or . . . I don’t know what the Knights and Ladies learned about. But I was just there to pose for a picture. It was a goof, a joke, and all the other kids thought it was funny, but behind the joke was the truth: I was a guy searching. Showing up for the wrong things. Not showing up for the right things.
And in fact in my senior yearbook I am missing from the row of students with last names beginning with C. At some point, I drew an arrow to the place I should have been pictured and wrote in all caps: WHERE AM I? RIP-OFF!
WHERE AM I?
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