February 27, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Beagles in the stars

By |2023-12-21T20:37:47+01:00December 13th, 2023|"Free-Range Kid"|
The OED defines the beagle as destiny.
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s I child I imagined that childhood was a preview for adulthood. Everything would simply increase in quantity — freedom, food portions, homework. And in some ways, I was right.  I thought the things that were important then would be become more and more relevant the older I got. Life, however, has proven me wrong, and below are some of the things that have not played as big of a role in my adulthood as I expected they would at the time.

Beagles: I remember being in a bathroom chatting with my childhood friend who boasted that they were thinking about getting a beagle. As she went on about how great this beagle would be, though they’d yet to meet it, I remember thinking, “Wow, everyone is getting beagles. Now that we’re growing up, I suppose this is the new order.” See, I’d heard about at least two other people planning on getting beagles. I understood that now that I was eight, I was getting a feel for how the world worked, and that meant realizing that it is part of human nature to acquire people beagles. Why, beagles are as natural as periods. I saw before me a future filled with beagles walking us down the aisle at our weddings, beagles sitting by us as we nursed our first-born children, beagles solemnly watching us bury our husbands. Beagles, in essence, would be the anchoring element in life, moving forward. As it happened, no one ever got a beagle. I’m not even sure I’ve ever known one.

Beagles, in essence, would be the anchoring element in life, moving forward.

Lice: After having to get my hair cut on two separate occasions because lice had buried their way into it, I developed a very mature resignation to life. “Lice is life,” if you will. I pictured conference calls about lice spreading in the firm, the office nurse checking all the lawyers’ hair (my father was a lawyer, so in that faultless kid-logic, I figured everyone was), and, of course, the occasional mandated bob. In my defense, my mother had short hair when I was little, so it was easy to imagine she kept it short to curtail lice: her hairstyle was a result of hard-earned wisdom. And she was so good at eradicating the lice with the designated lice-comb, I reasoned that just like driving, it’s something you’d pick as you got older. But I’m happy to report, I’ve not had lice again since that second time.

I might be sipping a cocktail with a fancy paper umbrella and someone might casually observe: “Say, what do you think of the HMS Defence and that whole ordeal?”

Shipwrecks: This sounds made up, but I swear for a while in history there were a lot of shipwrecks that we learned about. I still remember the despair I felt knowing I’d never remember the names of the ships or why they sank, or how many lives were lost. As a pre-teen, I can recall my already over-developed anxiety prodding me to learn the names of the ships because someday, I might be sipping a cocktail with a fancy paper umbrella and someone might casually observe: “Say, what do you think of the HMS Defence and that whole ordeal?” Even then, I could imagine how my daiquiri (the only cocktail I ever imagined I’d willingly drink) would turn to ash in my mouth as my memory failed me and I’d be outed as the uncultured imposter I was. This, shockingly, has never happened.  And I’m not embarrassed to admit I had to look on Wikipedia to find an example shipwreck.

I can’t say if it’s a good thing or not that none of these predictions have held true. Of course, a plethora of beagles would have been charming, but I’m happy without the lice and the constant maritime chitter-chatter. There is one thing, however, that I never imagined would be so important to my day-to-day that I actually use a surprising amount — the formula to calculate percentages. Wherever she is, I hope my math teacher from middle school feels her efforts were not wasted.

About the Author:

Manhattan-based Eleonora was born in Milan. She studied at schools in Italy, England, and the U.S. before earning her degree at Brown. When Eleonora is not acting, writing, or watching comedy, she spends her time drinking tea, worrying too much about everything, and spouting spoonerisms.