Not all Christmases were great, mind you.
There were the ones with zippered turtlenecks from the Sears Roebuck catalog and slacks from the Robert Hall down on the avenue.
But one year, I ripped off the wrapping paper in anticipation and bugged to a brand-new chemistry set!
Exactly what I wanted!
It made me feel so grown-up to play around with the test tubes and chemicals, mixing them up in nutty ways that led to all kinds of smelly smoke and the feeling that I was somehow doing something really meaningful, even if I basically resembled some old Jerry Lewis character on a comic rampage.
I spent endless hours playing with the thing, all alone in the basement, having the time of my life and learning the utter joy of a worthwhile purchase (even if I didn’t learn all that much about the actual science of chemistry).
I even bragged about it at school and got a couple of appreciative responses from the other kids.
And that wasn’t the end of the creative euphoria.
The same year, I got my cousins to co-star with me in a production of Oliver Twist done in the same basement — just for us!
We had great chemistry!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 22, 2011