A few weeks ago, after teaching a lovely piano lesson, I walked the student to the front door to see her off. She had arranged with her mother to walk home that week instead of getting picked up, so I sent her off with a valuable piece of advice that got my through my own childhood:
“‘Bye! Thanks for coming! Don’t get kidnapped!”
She waved goodbye offhandedly, desperate to escape her piano lessons for another glorious week, and headed off down the walkway. I could almost hear her thinking, “Yeah, yeah, whatever, you psycho.” (I’m pretty sure I like my piano students more than they like me.)
A moment later, however, she stopped, turned halfway back toward me, and asked with a completely straight face, “What’s kidnapped?”
“What’s kidnapped?” she said, as if she was asking the waiter to please explain the concept of foie gras. For all she knew, I was speaking Mandarin, and kidnapped was the verb of the day.
Oh, sweet innocence of childhood in Mayberry: I will never know you for myself, but how I delight to observe you in others.