Follow That Dream

My Real Memoir

As this summer wears on, my feelings parallel those of a summer long ago when I was 12. True, I’m “ever so much more than twenty,” much less 12, but I find myself waiting just as I did then, for The Great What’s Next to begin. Currently, that’s securing the publishing deal for my new novel, resuming speaking dates, and pitching my movies.

In the summer of my twelfth year, it meant waiting for junior high school to begin, when my bona fides as a teenager would be secured. When I would upgrade my acting career via my first-ever elective class: Beginning Acting, finally erasing the double embarrassment of my shameful wimp-out at the 6th Grade Talent Show and my failure to secure Debbie Reynolds as a co-star. And when I would publish my first novel under my new pen name “Jules Paris Casino.”

So I wandered in the Field across the street, singing the theme song from a recent Elvis movie, Follow That Dream, hoping the hideous disfigurement I’d received when I stumbled and broke my front tooth wouldn’t end my career as a movie star. I hated my 7th Grade class picture (taken two months later) so much that I stuck it on my wall and wrote “What, Me Worry?” under it (the motto of Mad Magazine’s mascot Alfred E. Newman).

It didn’t help that my voice was beginning to squeak. Or that my hormones, after voraciously gobbling up all of my 4th Grade baby fat, were beginning to do weird things to my bones. I’d lie awake at night and watch my legs grow in the moonlight. I ached all of the time.

Inside and out.

My internal aching found its analog in a book I’d bought at Hiram’s Supermarket: To Kill a Mockingbird. Until then, my favorite books had always been adventures (Twain, London, Dumas, H.G. Wells, and my literary namesake Jules Verne, of course). But here was a whole different type of story. Outwardly, it was about the trial of an innocent man in a racist town. But inwardly it was about a girl named Scout whose thought life, her longings and developing ethical values, seemed to parallel mine in every way. I read the book straight through three times, savoring every line.

Mommandad took me to see the movie version that fall. Oddly enough, I was disappointed—it wasn’t like the rendition in my head, no movie could be (I later came to love the movie, btw). Of course, it also didn’t help that, after we’d parked, Dad unwittingly slammed the car door on my finger. It was throbbing like a Looney Tune, but I insisted on seeing the movie anyway (Mom gave me aspirin). Throughout the show, my finger ached, my legs ached, and my heart ached…

Even as it sometimes does now.

My Real Memoir is a series. To read the next one, click here.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Books, Humor, Memoir, Movies and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Follow That Dream

  1. yakpro2015 says:

    That’s scary!

    Joseph Yakovetic 4480 Powderhorn Place Drive Clermont, Florida 34711

    mobile: 909.241.6088

    SDG Soli Deo Gloria “To God Alone the Glory”

    Liked by 2 people

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  3. Nice walk down memory lane, Mitch. I need to do some reflecting of my own. Thank you for the reminder.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. rwfrohlich says:

    Twelve is a really awkward age; I think all of us boys resembled Alfred E. Newman in some ways as our bodies knee-jerked toward maturity. Our hearts were developing too, often painfully. Now our bodies are settled (and settling) and our hearts smooth off the rough edges of pain, feeling things more deeply with the perspective of rapidly passing time.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. 💙💙💙💙💙

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I wouldn’t go back to repeat my “tween-age” years for $1,000,000. The hormones, pimples, bullies, strange new feelings about girls (Ok, that wasn’t so bad😇). It was a lot to live through.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Congratulations! Sorry for the delay having off day.

    Not online much right now been a bit sick.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Francochuks says:


    Liked by 1 person

  9. Mitch: Childhood familiar, perhaps to everyone. I remember taking the streetcar to my dentist (who eventually built a great violin for me) . I walked down the main street of Mpls with my transfer clutched and would wait on the corner of Washington Avenue where Shindler’s news stand was (and the trolley stop) . It was the only place in town that carried Mad. I actually looked forward to going to my dentist. The Don Martin cartoons and all the stuff you can only get these days in Zippy in the St.Paul Paper.( I lost my two front teeth biting into a cob of sweet corn.) Ahh youth. Norm

    Liked by 2 people

  10. C.A. Post says:

    “JULES!?” Now I understand why you go by Mitch.
    I’m never revealing why my legal given name is C.A.. You’ll have to get the FBI or CIA to tell the tale someday after I am long gone. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  11. annieasksyou says:

    I thoroughly enjoy the candor, humor, and vulnerability in these memoir segments—and I wish I had a memory like yours for delving into my own childhood. My “real memoir” would be thin indeed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • mitchteemley says:

      Oh, my memories aren’t all exactly on tap, Annie. I “research my brain,” so to speak, writing down memories as they rise to the surface and trigger associated memories. Seeing my class photo cut out of my Jr. High yearbook triggered my memory of how I felt about that picture, my fears of never becoming a movie star because of the broken tooth, etc. I also google era-specific things like “1962 movies, music, tv, news,” etc., which in this case jogged my memory of repeatedly reading ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and of Dad slamming the car door on my finger. Once you become a “brain archeologist,” digging through your forgotten memories, you’ll be surprised what you uncover!


  12. Our school still teaches that book, and we show the movie too. I love both! God bless, Mitch!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Paula says:

    I have told people that I believe “To Kill a Mockingbird” is the most perfect story I’ve ever read.** I too have read it three times. Given copies to friends to read. When I decided to adopt a rabbit from a friend over six years ago, I didn’t know if I was getting a buck or a doe, but I’d already picked its name. Scout the Rabbit lives with me in bunny/hooman harmony. (By the way, I also have a pet named Rennie the Gecko, so it’s one warm-blooded and one cold-blooded.)

    Something I also tell people, especially parents, is that those ages between 12 and 16 are some of the hardest to navigate for them, the kid, and for the parents too. My advice to them is to remember what it was like for them during those years and try to understand that while they make smart choices.

    Thanks for the memories. Pg
    ** “Peace Like a River” by Leif Enger comes in second and I’ve read that one three times too.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Sherry says:

    I also read “To Kill a Mockingbird” when I was about that age and it was a favorite and still is. I have the DVD (I know, old school) and watch it every Fall. Funny thing about boys, Scott still claims to be 10 or 12, depending on the situation. I love having our grand kiddos visit so it gives him someone his own age to play with!

    Liked by 1 person

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  16. Damyanti Biswas says:

    Yeah, I’m so glad I’m not twelve anymore! Although, I do miss my school library 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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