Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Birthday Boy: Now We are 93
It must be hard having your name become synonymous, for reasons wholly beyond your control, with a particularly idyllic kind of childhood. That's certainly a lesson to be taken from the life of Christopher Robin Milne, born this fine August day in 1920.
The date is something of a surprise, as to me the perfect summer days described by A.A. Milne - Christopher Robin's father, of course - have always seemed to be me to have something of the Edwardian to them. Then again, when I describe some aspects of my own childhood to younger friends - the short-pant suits, the unfathomably early and wholly non-negotiable bedtimes, the fully implemented expectation that children were to be seen but not heard (no special snowflakes, we) - to them it seems something from, well, 1920. Perhaps childhood always lags behind.
Christopher Robin grew up. No more shorts, no more summer afternoons in the Hundred Acre Wood. He found his own way in the world, after a time, but never fully reconciled himself to the experience of having his secret childhood life become the world's property. The originals of his friends - the stuffed bear, kangaroo, piglet, and donkey (no owl, sadly - that bossy, peremptory character was always my favorite) - are fixtures at the New York Public Library. Their owner spent much of his life contentedly running bookshops; one wonders if he ever idly leafed through the books him, however he felt about it, immortal.
I hope he had more than a few occasions to enjoy those little cake things with pink sugar icing...