Photo of Joey and Arlene seated on runningboard of 1940s car

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About Arlene

Scenes from My Life On Hemlock Street: A Brooklyn Memoir by Arlene Mandell

No Room of My Own

Now that I’m thirteen, having a noisy, sloppy eight-year-old brother is excruciating. He’s always barging into the room, snooping around on my desk and even in my dresser. I actually found him holding one of my bras against his chest, while his disgusting friend Gilbert snorted with delight. And there’s no point saying anything to my mother who reminds me, as if I need reminding, that it’s his room too.

I should explain that goofy-looking Gilbert is the younger brother of Stanley, who moved into an apartment across the street. Stanley, who has an adorable southern accent, liquid brown eyes and the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen on a boy. Stanley, who I love. This is a secret love, because my parents have become friendly with his parents, and everyone on Hemlock Street sees every little thing.

When I got my “friend” for the first time, which I consider an intimate matter, my mother told Nettie Sachs, who mentioned it to the rest of the universe. I mean, when that sewer mouth Vinny Parisi yells that I had blood on my skirt (of course I didn’t), then you understand the limits of privacy on our block.

Just this afternoon, I was lying on my bed reading Green Mansions, when I heard snickering. Edward and Gilbert were spying on me through the keyhole, though I can’t imagine what they thought they were seeing.

My mother says as soon as my father gets a raise, we’re moving to a bigger apartment and I can finally have my own room. Just when he has started sitting next to me on the stoop.

© Arlene Mandell, 2009

Welcome to Hemlock StreetBlock PartyBuilding the Ferris WheelCrossing Pitkin AvenueThe KissInvisible BabyAunt Minnie's Second WeddingMurder Inc.A Real Italian DinnerSleeping with Nettie SachsDuke Snider Breaks Our HeartsCherries in the SnowMy Thirteenth Spring • No Room of My Own • Deeply in LoveHangin' Out and Makin' OutResolutions Made and Broken