Growing Up Boho

There’s a scene in Woody Allen’s film Annie Hall showing his childhood family around the dinner table, and they’re all jumping up and down, screaming. I suppose most people saw that as rather broad comedy, but it was an almost literal description of my own childhood mealtimes (except that we didn’t live under a roller coaster).

In the household of my youth, dinner conversation often consisted of table-pounding, screaming debates about art history, which might be initiated by either of my parents: “You think that hack could paint? Are you blind?” There were also characters wandering around — adorned like my father with funny hats, beards, and oil-paint odors — who had no discernible reason for being in our “home” at all. At the time, of course, I didn’t realize this was a peculiar environment in which to grow up.

[ close this window ]