What They’ll Say About Me When I’m Big

Something I read made me so nervous that I bit all my fingernails off. One of Al Gore’s old buddies

Something I read made me so nervous that I bit all my fingernails off. One of Al Gore’s old buddies in Nashville, this guy named John Warnecke who was a reporter with Mr. Gore at The Tennessean , said that, up until 24 years ago, the Vice President was a much bigger pot smoker than he has let on. “Al Gore and I smoked regularly as buddies,” Mr. Warnecke told a reporter who works for the Web site of the Drug Reform Coordination Network. “Marijuana, hash. I was his regular supplier. I didn’t deal dope, I just gave it to him. We smoked more than once, more than a few times, we smoked a lot. We smoked in his car, in his house, we smoked in his parents’ house, in my house … we smoked on weekends. We smoked a lot.”

Now the whole world knows. If, a quarter of a century after the fact, Al Gore can get busted for smoking pot, it seems like there is no statute of limitations on embarrassing stuff. It all causes me concern because there are certain things in my own past that could be perceived as, well, checkered, and could be disastrous if they came to light 20-odd years after they happened .

Yes, it’s true, I am no Al Gore. But I’ve got plans. I’ve actually been putting some thought into trying to find some time during the day to start mapping out a screenplay, which I will do as soon as I get around to reading that Robert McKee book. I’ve got some pretty good ideas, too! Maybe, someday, I don’t know, somebody will care.

So, for you, my biographer, or any Newsweek writer who wants to keep some dirt on me, just in case I win a lot of money on one of those quiz shows or something, here are my biggest sins, in rough order of their occurrence.

1978. At six years of age, I momentarily shed my lethargic nature to practice some hooliganism. I ran out of my house on a fall afternoon, and crept into the backyard of my classmate, Anna Kuperman. There, after making certain that none of the Kupermans or any neighbors were about, I stomped all over an overturned Walt Disney Donald Duck wading pool. My stomping caused irreparable cracking in the bottom that would prevent the pool from ever holding water, or a Kuperman, again. Although the Kupermans had,

only months before, emigrated from Russia, this was no symbolic act of xenophobia, or even anti-Disney sentiment, as it may have appeared to the Kuperman family, who at that point were still working the kinks out of their English. Plainly and simply, any wading pool that was left in the yard for weeks at a time, pristine and ungaraged, was just asking to be stomped on.

For follow-up interviews, the Kuperman family, to the best of my knowledge, is still in Portland, Me., at the house they moved into not long after the pool-stomping incident. (The Kupermans, reporters should be aware, may be surprised to learn that I was the one who stomped on their first American wading pool.)

Summers, 1978-1982. Whenever possible, I urinated in the public swimming pool run by the Kiwanis Club on Douglas Street in Portland, Me. Though the pool was only a 10-minute walk, I made a habit of not going to the bathroom before leaving the house, and certainly not using the lavatory in the pool’s locker room once I had paid my 50-cent admission. “Saving my pee” is how I remember thinking about the practice. The behavior was interrupted briefly in the summer of 1979, after my best friend, Paul Fenton, convinced me and a large group of afternoon swimmers that Parks and Recreation officials had begun dumping a solution into the pool that would cause a large bloodlike red cloud to surround any urinators. After a few anxiety-provoking trials, I realized that Paul had either gotten bad information or was spreading a false rumor because he didn’t like the idea of other people’s pee in the pool. The behavior resumed.

Although, to my knowledge, Paul Fenton never knew that I enjoyed urinating in the Kiwanis pool, he would be able to confirm the details of the Red Dye Scare of 1979. Last I checked, he was an officer for the police department in Cape Elizabeth, Me.

1979-1981. In the summer of 1979, I began an illicit relationship in the finished basement rec room of Heather Dutton, who was my contemporary, but was a good foot and a half taller than me, and could certainly have beaten me up if she’d ever gotten the idea to. There were approximately a dozen assignations, the first taking place not in the finished basement, but in the woods behind the Kuperman house-approximately 50 feet away from the scene of the Donald Duck pool incident-where we disrobed and were soon apprehended by Heather’s father, Roger, a pharmaceutical salesman who discouraged us from taking our clothes off outside anymore. Whenever her parents were away, Heather Dutton would call my house and ask, “You want to come over?” It was a mutually agreed-upon euphemism for disrobing in the basement, followed by some astonished gazing, an occasional prod and some Love Boat -style kissing. Then we would play bumper pool and drink Tab, which were certainly added enticements.

I should note it was Heather Dutton’s idea to terminate the relationship in the middle of 1981, citing, “It’s weird,” although I protested her decision with increasing frequency in the years 1982, 1983 and 1984, to no avail. Please do not call Heather Dutton’s father; he does not know that we took our clothes off again.

1982. In Ms. Nylen’s fifth-grade class at Nathan Clifford School, during the circulation of a get-well card for a young fourth-grade teacher I didn’t know, but who had undergone a hysterectomy, I signed twice. Once with a red pen, and my right hand, I signed, “Get Well Quick! Andy Goldman” in perfect penmanship. With a black pen, and with my left hand (a tactic designed to disguise my writing and lay the blame squarely on the class sociopath, Maple Rasza, who had crappy handwriting) I signed “FUCK,” which seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do at the time.

Note to reporters: It would be pointless to try to get in touch with the formerly hospitalized teacher. I don’t remember her name, and by the time the card arrived at Maine Medical Center, Ms. Nylen had deftly incorporated the block letters into a drawing of a smiling cow, so the teacher on her sickbed never knew that a fifth grader whom she’d never met really didn’t care about her hysterectomy. One person who may be of great help on this matter was Timmy O’Sullivan, who witnessed the whole event and reported all of the details to Ms. Nylen, who never quite looked at me in the same way again. I have no idea where Timmy is these days, but back then, he was about 4 feet 3 inches, weighed maybe 65 pounds and favored an Ocean Pacific painter’s cap, if that helps at all. Nathan Clifford Elementary may have an alumni office by now. Who knows?

And of course, if there is anything that you’d like to know about my precognitive life, my parents, Carlene and Edward Goldman, may be willing to fill you in on some details. They’re listed in Portland, Me., and they love to talk. I’ve heard that I was a nasty biter and slow to be weaned. You’d probably want to get confirmation from them on that one.

What They’ll Say About Me When I’m Big