a boy of summer gets curiously aroused

In my younger days, I visited my uncle and aunt in eastern Tennessee where I developed a life-long fetish for glowing abdomens. Some dudes are leg guys; others, arm guys. Some are small-of-the-back guys and others like Jim Harrison are bubble-butted beauty guys.

Not me.

I’m an abdomen guy all the way. I love me a good tummy.

But check your titillation at the door, please. I’m talking lightning bugs, the second greatest insect to grace the Midwest and the Appalachia.

At my uncle and aunt’s, I spent the evenings doing every conceivable little-boy experiment with this wonderful literary bug.

Like Lenny in Of Mice and Men, I petted and squeezed them to death, till my fingers and palms were aglow and cheeks mottled with phosphorescence.

I collected hundreds of them in a jar and shook them, casting a soft glow in the dark corner of a garden.

I smacked them clean out of the air with a big plastic baseball bat, as though I were swinging for the fences. Little carcasses streaked the air like fireworks in July. After my swinging frenzy was over, the bat resembled a swollen light saber. A cross between Babe Ruth and Yoda. And just about as handsome.

Years later on a Kentucky plantation, I fell in love with a tall, skinny dark-haired girl for an entirely sensible reason. A curtain of fireflies billowed behind her. In the fields, a great mystical sheet pulsed and throbbed with light. “I love you,” I said, with a tenderness bordering on a groin ache.

Like all great memories, they’re often triggered by incidental things, in this case, a title by Harrison: The Woman Lit by Fireflies. Who can resist thumbing through a collection of novellas with a title like that?

Not this abdomen guy.

2 Responses to a boy of summer gets curiously aroused

  1. Bellezza says:

    I loved the sharing of your memory. In school, it’s considered good practice to have the children make connections from text to text, text to self, text to life. Those of us who read do it naturally, and it’s so wonderful to catch a glimpse into the inner workings of our minds. Hearts. And, perhaps I should add, groins?

  2. […] enthused about this awesome insect before, here and here. And when I read this passage in Lila, I knew I’d share it with […]

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