Monday, June 9, 2008

The Last Kid Picked

The complete title of this little autobiographical gem by David Benjamin is The Life and Times of The Last Kid Picked. From personal experience, I must say, life with my three sons when they were in elementary school would have been much easier if I had read this book first. It certainly shed light on the behavior of boy children. although it is light hearted, the actual details of this young boy's trials and tribulations can make your heart ache. You learn on the opening page that the child's parents are separated, emphasizing the lingering pain of not having his father in his daily life:. "I stood out from the crowd. I was the kid without the father." This thread is pervasive: loneliness and yearning.
The place is Tomah, Michigan where the child attends a Catholic School and suffers the indignity of being the last child picked. His companions, whose names have been changed to protect their identities, are drawn with broad brush strokes which allow their activities to create wonderful images, exaggerated, but wonderful nevertheless.
Their activities focus on baseball and fishing in muddy waters. How they do not contract terrible skin infections and other disease is a mystery which would have been a comfort to me in those days long ago when my three were also fishing in muddy waters.
The fishing expeditions resulted in tadpoles which were duly saved, of course, and turtles, full of menace. All of the preceding escalated into escapades that adults find intolerable but for these boy children, just another thing that happened yesterday because today something else is evolving, equally unpleasant and hazardous.
The table of contents is intriguing, e.g. ...."A Perfect Day....Jesus Christ, KId! Go Outside....By the Shores of Lake Monona.."
But don't be deceived. Underlying the carefree approach is the sad struggle for dignity and self esteem when you are the last kid picked. "..... I befriended Koscal and Fat Vinny because no one else would ever think to volunteer. Koscal and Fat Vinny, in turn, hung out with me...."
It is sad. It is funny. It provides insight into the inscrutable minds of a young boy, seemingly intent on all things germ laden and dangerous. You can only marvel that this child survived to experience a triumph.
It is perceptive and informative for all those whose children are picked first as well as last.
Ruth, a voracious reader, blundered through Cuckoo U. and eventually joined the football team where she played left tackle on defense. No, seriously, take a look at my website [] and promise to look at it carefully and go buy some of the things I've found for you and if you can't do that, at least, love my dog

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