Someone was worried about being misrepresented in a local newspaper. I pointed out that sometimes we think our exposure in the media is greater than we either fear or, conversely, hope. Of course, the media can create great waves of knowledge and notoriety. But not always.
To illustrate, I mentioned something that happened when I was five years old. There was a local children’s program on a Boston radio station. If your parents applied for tickets, you could sit in the audience during a broadcast. All I remember of the content of the program was that at one point we were made to sing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.”
My mother got me a ticket and we prepared to go downtown to the radio station. Since it was winter, she made me wear a sweater she had just made for me. She was an expert knitter, but she realized when she buttoned it up that she had put the buttons on the wrong side. That is, as my older brother was quick to point out, it was really a girl’s sweater.
I didn’t refuse to wear it—refusals like that weren’t allowed in our family—so I had to wear the awful sweater under my coat.
At the radio station, my mother found the right studio and brought me inside. She took my coat and went outside to sit with the other mothers to watch the broadcast through a large window. I took a seat in the last row of the audience, to be sure few of the other children would see me.
I sat throughout the broadcast in misery. Even while singing “The Bear Went Over the Mountain.”
I was sure that all of Greater Boston—every person who knew me, of all ages—could tell I went to the radio show wearing a girl’s sweater.