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When I Grow Up I Wanna Be A…

By LC Van Savage

What did you want to be when you grew up, presupposing you have. The jury is still out on me, but seriously, what did you want to be? And what would have happened had you become that? In my case, it would most probably have been, not to put too fine a point on it, disastrous.

Back during The War---yes, The War, you remember, the big one, # II—I wanted desperately to join up. I was twenty-four days short of six years old when Pearl Harbor was bombed, and in my mind The War would probably go on forever. I reasoned that if bombs could fall on a place that had the same name as that small white ball in my grandmother’s pretty ring, then bombs could fall anyplace and everyplace. Thus my wanting to join up made perfect sense to me. My job, I’d decided, would be to make those planes stop dropping bombs on places with pretty names.

But it didn’t mean my going off to fight. Oh no, I wanted to join up mostly to stand around wearing those cool uniforms military women wore back then. Well, I always thought the shoes could have used a little work. I mean talk about sensible. Even at the ends of the prettiest, longest legs they looked like large dark blocks of wood. Ah but the uniforms—all of the uniforms --- the hats, the brass, the belts. I was smitten by them and dreamed all the time of wearing just any one of those marvelous regimentals. WAC, WAVE, WAAF, WASP, SPAR.

I remember staring at women in uniform on the Staten Island ferry when I was riding on it going to the Big City or coming home from same. I don’t know where those uniformed women were going but they were on those ferries and I stared at them so hard my eyes burned as I wrung my handkerchief in my anxious little hands so tightly it ripped. Yes, all proper young ladies back then carried a handkerchief. How gross was that? I recall being very determined to get into one of those uniforms, and the sooner the better, although I hadn’t even begun puberty yet, nor had even heard of the word. I’ll admit that the Navy uniform was especially attractive to me. That very, very cool hat. Wow. Some smart!

What would have happened had I joined up twelve years later? The war would have been well over, and strutting about in parades in full regalia would probably have been only a small part of military life post wartime, so when I was told that an awful lot of military work involved mornings, and since I didn’t then and still don’t do mornings, I’d have been a miserable failure as a career Woman in Uniform. So much for that particular “whenIgrowupIwannabe” dream.

I then used to get lost in my imagination in school, especially during Geography, dreaming of the day when I’d go to Egypt and dig up solid gold mummies and present them to the Egyptians who’d be so grateful they’d make me some kind of honorary potentate, that is if females can be that, and I’d spend my days stretched out on huge, silken couch being fed peeled grapes while beautiful Egyptian eunuchs fanned me with gigantic palm fronds.

But then, someone had to come along and wreck everything in that dream too, by advising me that finding a golden mummy in a gigantic golden tomb in a ginormous golden city takes years of digging with a teaspoon or a tiny paintbrush in tiny square holes in blowing sand in blistering heat and I pretty much lost interest. Had I actually pursued that I’d have made everyone as miserable as I possibly could, and I’d have been advised to get the hell out of Egypt and to never ever even think of returning. Banned from the land of Tutankhamen and Cleopatra for all eternity; oh the wretched, terrible disgrace.

Then I wanted to be a world famous actress but quickly realized it was way too much memorization and having to hold my stomach in, so that idea poofed off. Soon after that came the wild-eyed fantasy that I’d be the right-hand Girl Friday for a world famous actor and would travel the world with him fending off madding crowds. I actually found one and an offer was made. You’d know him if I told you his name, I mean if you’re of the geezer persuasion, but he turned out to be a randy old goat who had many more plans for me other than getting his coffee, going over lines and packing his socks and boxers, so that too poofed into the atmosphere and good riddance to that now dead malodorous old creepazoid.

Then I decided that I’d be a world famous artist, that I’d paint huge murals in enormous public places and have commissions too many to count. OK, on a most miniscule level, that did in fact work out, although my dreams to do that gigantic mural poofed away into the clouds and now I’m way too old to stand on scaffolding telling my story with acrylic paints. Or am I?

Do we all wonder if we’ve ever really grown up, or what exactly the definition of that is? But then, sometimes it actually works out. A member of our family as a little boy said what all little boys say, that he wanted to be a fireman when he grew up. He became one, he loved it and still does. Another old pal said when she was tiny that she wanted to live with horses. She did back then and does still today. So for some it happens.

Alas, and probably luckily, my dreams didn’t work out. I fear I’d have made a mess of things. The list was long back then of what I wanted to be when I grew up, but the Fates must have known that for me to get my mushy daydreamy wishes of what I wanted were just folly. Besides, I met Mongo somewhere in all that woolgathering and everything clicked into place and I found my path and thanks to him and our 3 sons, it’s been a really good path. And besides, there’s still time for me to grow up and to do a few of those things, right? Right??

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