某年盛夏 第6期

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As a kid, I rarely went to the movies. My one memory of a summer movie is of a movie about somebody else’s summer, a 2)nostalgic look back—way back!—to the Summer of ’42. I believe the movie is famous for a funny scene about buying 3)condoms, but perhaps all summer movies feature some amusing scene with condoms.

I grew up one of seven children in a family where making plans took up about as much time as executing those plans. Even the most 4)meticulously arranged and carefully orchestrated day failed to satisfy everyone. One person’s idea of a good time always bored somebody else. The older kids were 5)jaded about what the younger ones were just beginning to experience. A piano lesson would be postponed because a trip to the dentist couldn’t wait. Over time, invisible strings slowly 6)tethered one child to the next, and those two hooked up with a third, and so on and so forth, so the movement by one led to a lot of jerking of the others, and freedom, if not impossible, was always a tangled mess.

That we all managed to eat together every night and 7)squeeze into a church pew on Sundays was exhausting enough. My general sense was that summer movies, like summer itself, belonged to other people. When friends talked of movies they’d seen—or hiking or fishing trips they’d taken—it sounded to me like bragging. My vacations were vacant, an emptiness filled with 8)feral joys, but still I felt vaguely 9)gypped and carried some resentment at missing out on a part of the year that seemed to have been invented just for kids.

Once in a while, though, I’d be invited along with one of my friends. Most of my official summer fun happened in the presence of other people’s kind parents, but even then I would worry, in a child’s 10)intuitive way, about the aspect of charity these outings involved. I could never quite lose the h e lp l es s a n d bewildering sense that I was merely being tolerated. I’m sure that this sensitivity is fairly common in children, simply because they are so 11)attuned to the dynamics of power, being without it themselves.

My father always made sure that I had money. At the back door, he 12)drilled me on manners, concerned about propriety and appearance in the 13)wary way of men of his generation, men whose parents were immigrants and had a roughness that no amount of time in the New World would ever smooth over. It was like living with a 14)protocol officer, and I learned my lessons, perhaps too well, delivering on these occasions an imitation of a boy, a twelve-year-old 15)martinet. I was hoping to come off as earnest and polite, of course, but I can see now that the effect was probably comic, like watching a monkey bake a cake.

The trip to see Summer of ’42 involved, to my horror, a casual dinner with my friend’s parents beforehand. I had trouble chewing or swallowing in front of other people, convinced that I’d either choke or blow milk through my nose. But my friend and his parents ate and talked in a light, relaxed way, with an 16)inflection that was largely modulated by all the food in their mouths. The easy 17)bantering flow of conversation 18)baffled me. It moved too fast. Typically at our house, during dinner, you arranged a 19)syntactically perfect yet 20)cumbersome sentence in your mouth and then gently, slowly, set it in its proper place in the topic at hand. A trowelful of silence worked like 21)mortar; you patted a 22)scoop of it between every sentence to keep the course true. But with my friend’s parents the conversation moved so fluently I could hardly get my thoughts into it, and when I did they seemed outdated and had this orotund speechy quality that made a stupid thud, just as if I’d 23)heaved a brick on the table.

On the drive to the theatre—the old Neptune, in 24)Seattle—I kept to myself, silent in the back seat, watching out the window as the familiar streets reeled by. The 25)marquee was a brilliant slab of white in the dusk. My friend’s mother wore a 26)batik skirt that flowed softly from her hips like light through a lampshade. She was lovely and sophisticated, and I was 27)infatuated. Questions tumbled through my mind at a frightening pace. I had always used my manners to hide my real feelings, and I 28)blurted out a desire to buy popcorn for everyone, but my friend’s father told me to put my money away. I had been holding a wad of crushed dollars in my fist as proof. By the time the red velvet curtains swept aside and the lights went down, I was glad to be in the dark.

小时候,我很少去看电影。我对于夏日影片的记忆,停留在一部关于别人夏季的电影上,那是怀旧的追忆——很久之前——对《1942年之夏》的记忆。我认为这部电影之所以出名,是因为里面有个买避孕套的有趣场景,但或许,所有夏日电影都会有些提到避孕套的搞笑桥段。

我在一个有七个小孩的家庭里长大,在这样的家庭里,制订计划几乎要花和执行计划同样多的时间。即使是精心安排策划的一天行程也难以满足每个人的需求。一人心目中的美好时光往往在其他人眼中却是无趣的。年长的孩子已厌倦年幼的孩子即将要开始经历的事情。钢琴课可能会被推迟,因为不能错过的牙医预约。久而久之,无形的绳索开始慢慢地把一个孩子和另一个孩子系起来,两个又连着三个,依次类推,所以,一个人的行动总是牵扯到所有人,然而,能有的自由,也总是纠缠不清、混乱不已。

每天晚上,我们总能够凑在一起吃饭;周日,一起挤进教堂的座位,虽然这些都是很费劲的事。我大致的感觉就是,夏日电影就如夏天本身,是属于其他人的。当朋友们在讨论看过的电影时——或是徒步旅行、外出垂钓时——在我听起来,他们就是在炫耀。我的假期十分空闲,充满野性快乐的空虚,但是我仍隐约觉得自己被欺骗了,一年中这段时间错过了,我感到有些许怨恨,这本应是专属小孩的时光。

虽然,我偶尔会收到我某位朋友相约外出的邀请。我夏日那些正式的欢乐记忆大多有别家小孩的和善父母在场,即便是那时,我也会担心,出于小孩的直觉,这些出游邀约中包含着慈善救济的成分。我无法忘记那种我只是被施舍的无助和困惑感。我相信这种感觉在小孩中相当常见,因为本身脆弱无力,小孩是很懂权势利害的。

父亲总是确保我身上带着钱。在后门,他让我练习应有的礼仪举止,带着他们那代人特有的谨小慎微——那代人的父母亲是外来移民,身上有种粗鄙是无论在“新世界”里浸泡多久也无法消磨掉的。就像和仪礼官住在一起,我学了一套套的规矩,或许学得太过头了,在这些场合当个循规蹈矩的十二岁男孩,模仿着努力着。我希望表现得真诚、有礼貌,当然,但是我现在知道效果或许是滑稽的,就像看见一只猴子烤蛋糕一样。

去看《1942年之夏》时,令我惴惴不安的是,在那之前,我还和我朋友的父母亲一起吃了顿随意的晚餐。在别人面前,我难以咀嚼和吞咽,确信自己会呛到,要不就是鼻子会喷出牛奶来。但是,我的朋友和他的父母在轻松的氛围中进餐、聊天,这种语调很大程度上是由他们嘴里的食物来调节的。这种轻松并带着玩笑腔调的谈话,令我很迷惑。对话进行得太快了。而在我们家,进餐的时候,你得酝酿好句法结构完美的复杂句子,然后轻柔地、慢慢地,在合适的时间插入正在谈论的话题中。沉默犹如灰泥,你得在每句话之间抹上一铲“沉默”作粘合,那才是正路。但是和我朋友的父母在一起,对话进行得十分流畅,我几乎无法融入自己的想法,而当我能够插上话时,他们似乎跟不上节奏,夸张的对话就像是我举起了一块砖头扔到桌上,砰然钝响。

开车去剧院的时候——西雅图的老海王星剧院——我坐在后座,闷不作声,往窗外凝望着熟悉的街景往后倒退。广阔的天幕在傍晚中仿佛一块绝妙的白色平板。我朋友的母亲穿着蜡染花布裙子,这袭裙子柔软地从她的臀部垂下,就像是穿过灯罩的灯光。她美丽且干练,我为之所动。许许多多问题,以迅雷不及掩耳的速度,在我脑海中翻滚。我总是用自己的礼貌来隐藏自己真实的感觉,然后我脱口而出,想为大家买爆米花,但是我朋友的父亲让我把钱收起来。我拳头里攒着一把零钱,以为佐证。当红色天鹅绒窗帘打开,灯光都暗淡下去时,我非常欣喜自己身处于黑暗之中。

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