My First Betrayal

It was the summer of 1959. I was barely 4. A bunch of neighborhood kids were congregated on the pavement that separated my parents' twin home in Northeast Philadelphia from the one next door.

If the circle around the photo of our house were a clock, the betrayal took place right around 8:00. A much-older neighborhood boy was holding a bunch of green grapes. He said I could take one grape, adding (very clearly) that I should take the littlest one, because I was little. It made sense to me, and I carefully chose the tiniest one.

I of course did not know that small grapes have not yet ripened, and are acidic. Expecting sweetness, I was shocked and scared by its extreme tartness. And I was confused and upset by the laughter of the older boy as he watched my reaction.

I don't remember the name of the boy or what other interactions we may have had. He'd be about 70 now and likely has no recollection of the incident. He could be a very nice person, but he's forever etched in my memory as a nasty boy who delighted in upsetting a little girl.

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