The gargling man

My pre-school years

were spent at the

Torino apartments,

in San Carlos, California,

which was about a

full days journey out-side

of San Francisco,

by ocean liner.


Those years total some

of my most beloved

child-hood memories,


even if,

after all this time,

they are less whole


than they are just


fragments of things;

that I am

fairly certain

once happened to me.



I can still remember

few people from

that apartment building.


There was Josh,

he was my age, and

lived in an

apartment up-stairs

from my own,



the way I remember it,

Josh had more

monopoly game board money

than anybody

I had ever met,

before or since.


There was Mette,

she was a younger than



and my

most complete memory

of her was that

she always seemed

to have a couple of

lego-pieces handy,


Then there was

the Gargling Man …

he lived

next door to us,

— much older than myself,


We only met once


but he was one of the

great mysteries of my


… up until that time.


Part Two


“… And the Gargling Man gargles.

Gargling his life away.

How many times

did he gargle to-day?

1 … 2 … 3 … 4 …5 …

(from a 19th century French children’s jump rope song.)


Part Three


Now there

are two

schools of thought

on the who

and what

of the

Gargling Man.


It could be that,

in the design of

the apartment building,

his bathroom was

close to my bedroom,

and so, it goes to say,


only time I would have

been aware of

his presence was when

he was in the bathroom,

getting ready for work,

or, preparing for bed …


Or, …



And this is my particular school of thought,

maybe the Gargling Man was always gargling.


Which is correct?

No one can say. 


My mom swears

I am totally exaggerating

the entire thing.

In particular,

this next part,

which she claims I

“cut from whole cloth”.


But I know what I saw.


For this one time,

I happened to be coming

out of my apartment,

when at the

exact same time,

the Gargling Man

was coming out

of his.


Startled, I took an immediate step back.


There he was,

as tall as a tree,


mouth wide open,

minty smell.

… Gargling.


I squeaked

a hello.

He glanced, nodded,

and said,



I swear that is true.


But then,

just like that,

one day

the Gargling Man

was gone.


I’d lay in bed at night


listen for the

tell-tale sounds,

… but there were none.


“What will become of the Gargling Man?”

I would ask my dad.

But he would just look

at me funny and say,

“I have no idea what that boy is talking about.”


Then, I guess, I forgot all about it.


That is,

until one night, many years later.

I was much older,

having just

returned home

for Winter break

from college.


I happened to be up late,

watching a popular late night-host on TV,

and the announcer said,

“Next up, actor, Mike Lookinland.”


But I must have mis-heard him,

because for a second,

I thought the announcer had said,

the ‘Gargling Man’.


And for that one moment in time,

I was so fucking proud.


Scan 9

the author, at about that same time.

36 thoughts on “The gargling man

  1. (1) Josh lives in Park Place, a luxury condo that is a full day’s travel from the Baltic Sea on the Reading Railroad.
    (2) Mette remembers saying, “Lego my girly pieces!” She thought you were cute, though…
    (3) The Gargling Man was practicing for a role in the TV movie, “Gargoyles.” Sadly, he misunderstood the title of the film. But at the auditions, the film director did compliment him on his minty breath.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Great memories and so vivid. I can recall very little and the people around me are amazed: “You don’t remember THIS, you don’t remember THAT?” I’m amazed, too, and sad. Wish I had your memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I assumed some elaboration, but still…I just have raggedy threads of memory from childhood.
    But your perceptions feel familiar, like how I remember the few things that have stuck in my brain from then. Gives one the warm and fuzzies, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

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