The gargling man

My pre-school years

were spent at the Torino apartments,

in San Carlos, California,

which was about a full days journey outside

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 memories

than they are just

unconnected fragments of things

that I am fairly certain 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 upstairs

from ours, and Josh had

more monopoly game board money

than anybody I had ever met,

before or since.


There was Mette,

who was a little younger than myself,

and my most complete memory of her

was that she always seemed to have

a couple of lego pieces handy,

if needed,

and, indeed, some-times they were.


Then there was the Gargling Man …

He loved in our building, as well,

and he was the great mystery of

my early days on this planet.


“… 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.)


Now there 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,

the 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 just 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.

For there he was,

as tall as a tree,

head cocked slightly back,

mouth wide open,

minty smell.



I squeaked a hello.

He glanced, nodded,

and said, “Hng-gar-o”.


I swear that is true.


But then, just like that,

one day the Gargling Man was gone.

I’d lay in my bed at night and

listen for the tell-tale sounds,

but there were none.


And for our time left remaining in the building,

a part of me continued to wonder … and worry.


“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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