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in a different era

by on January 3, 2010

Yesterday on a flight from Seattle to Santa Rosa I was sitting behind a young brother and sister, flying alone. I couldn’t see the sister, who was sitting in front of me, and didn’t know much except that she was a couple years younger than her brother, who was about seven, and that she had an odd name, like Senda or Sempa or Simper — what’s with the names of kids now, anyways?

I could see the boy. He was a good-looking kid, somewhat blond, probably seven or eight. It struck me that in a different era boys younger than him would be king. He would be king, and how do you explain to a seven year old, or a four year old, that a king must never draw with crayons, or or smile or laugh more or less than necessary? Or if he were not king, then so recently as a hundred years ago, or two, three, or four hundred years ago, he would have been a shepherd, or a coal miner, or a water boy. At the age of seven (and, indeed, younger) fate has already set a path: are you gamin (wild peasant child) or are you haughty king? The choice is not yours to make.

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From → On the Dole

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