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April 01, 2014

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Don

And not a walk-on by me in his autobiography. From his earliest novels and stories on I was in love with a sort of gay shimmer infused in them.
After many years I read his autobiography. I was moderately surprised that he was an African-American (looked like a "Black Irish" in the book cover photos of him). He also described visits he made to his somewhat younger girl cousin, whose skin was darker than his, in Montclair, NJ, when he was in his early teens.
Now, that short passage gobsmacked me. At that time I was living in the poorest neighborhood of exclusive Glen Ridge. Occasionally, in my preteens and early teens, on weekends, I would take very long walks around the suburbs there, and once I steered my route up to Montclair. For some reason, I remember I was passing a boy and a girl walking along a shaded street and having a lively discussion, he doing almost all of the talking. I got the impression that he was white and she black. Walking briskly and passing them on the sidewalk, I just managed to hear that he just sort of grabbed me as an example of a white boy and included me in his exposition. So everything fit together -- his being a year older than me and she a little younger than him, and him being a whiz kid from the Bronx Science High School, and on the swim team.
I don't know why this stuck in my memory - I did not address them or was addressed - possibly it had to do with the fact that there were zero African Americans, and extremely few Italians, in waspy Glen Ridge at the time.
If only I had known, we could have hooked up

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