January 27th, 2022


Once Upon A Time in America

Greg Crosby

By Greg Crosby

Published August 7, 2020

"Tell us a story, Uncle Dorian!" "Yes, please tell us a story," the children shrieked as they jumped onto their uncle's chest with their full weight, nearly causing him to hyperventilate and pass out. "Well, okay children, I will if you will kindly sit down beside me and allow me to catch my breath," he wheezed. "I do have a story that you might enjoy."

"What is it?" asked little Emma as she ground her left foot into her uncle's stomach. "I will tell it to you now, but first you must remove you foot from my belly please," gasped Uncle Dorian trying not to grimace.

"I hope it doesn't start with 'once upon a time,' said Elwood, an unpleasant five year old boy with grape jelly on his hands. "No, it does not start out that way," their uncle replied, "So just get that thought out of your mind right this minute."

"This story happened a long, long time ago. Long before any of you were born. One morning a young man woke up, got dressed, had breakfast, and went to work."

"Did he go to work in the bedroom or the kitchen?" asked Elwood.

"Oh no, he went to work in a big office building miles away from home," answered Uncle Dorian.

"What's a office building, Uncle Dorian?" Emma asked.

"Well, an office building was a place where many people would gather together to do their jobs."

"They were all together? In one room?" inquired Elwood as he wiped his eye with a jellied finger. "Were they wearing masks?"

"No, they didn't wear masks back in those days."

"WOW!" the children said in unison.

"People would work all together and then when it was time for lunch they would go out to eat in a restaurant. They would sit at a table together, with many other people sitting at tables all around them with no social distancing."

"OOOOO . . . were they put in jail? Did they all get sick and die?"

"Oh no, it wasn't against the law to eat in a restaurant with other people back then. Everyone did it and nobody got sick. And nobody died."

The children looked at each other in disbelief. They never heard of such things before. "Uncle Dorian, you're teasing us, right?" Asked little Emma.

"Oh, no. This is a true story. But wait, there's more. After people came home from work they would have dinner with friends or family and sometimes go out to a movie theater. Do you know what a movie theater is?"

"No," said the children, their eyes bulging out as big as saucers.

"Well, a movie theater was a big room with high ceilings and dozens and dozens of seats where people would sit together and watch a movie shown on an enormous screen on a wall."

The children sat with their mouths open and couldn't believe what they were hearing. It was frightening.

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"But that's not all," continued the uncle. "There is much more to the story. On weekends people would sometimes go to large stadiums, do you know what those were?"

"N-no," whimpered Emma almost afraid to find out.

"Well, I'll tell you. Stadiums were huge places where sporting events would take place and crowds of people, thousands of people, would gather to watch their favorite teams play. And no one wore a mask and everyone sat next to each other eating hot dogs and ice cream and screaming and cheering for their team."

"OH, OH, OH," cried the children with fear in their voices and tears beginning to well up in their eyes.

"Ah, and there's more," Uncle Dorian said almost taking pleasure in the children's horrifying reaction to his story. "You won't believe this, but all the ball players in the stadium stood up for the National Anthem, faced the flag, removed their caps, put their hands over their hearts and said the Star Spangled Banner before the games began."

"NO, you're lying! You're lying!" the children screeched as they ran out of the room sobbing in terror. "It can't be true! Mommy! Mommy, Uncle Dorian is scaring us!"

Uncle Dorian sat back in his chair, took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and went to sleep dreaming of eating hot dogs, peanuts, and frozen milk shakes at the ballpark.

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