When you parted the muslin curtains, the white branches of winter trees became the arms of girls in their spring frocks in April and May. There came a night you could smell the freshness. The next day I would climb out the window and join my friend Joel on the fire escape. It was the twentieth anniversary of President Roosevelt’s death. The transistor radio had changed civilization in a superficial way that may have profound long-term implications. In California there was a place called Surf City where there were rumored to be two girls for every boy. In the evening, when all that remained of our high-minded talk was a momentary pause in the flow of noise, I admired the photos of girls mounted in an album as if they were postage stamps of rare value from foreign states and colonies. The arch of a bridge across a European river made me shiver with pleasure, but I couldn’t rid myself of the fear I felt among these people whose grandparents they resembled. In the eyes of the comic-book artist some humans looked like pigs, some like apes, and some, the noblest, like birds of prey. In my room I had a treasure chest and a forest where I placed a bunch of flowers in the crotch of a tree. But what I liked best were the two soda bottles I kept on the windowsill, concealed between curtain and glass, which under the influence of sleep and dreams turned into the heads of puppets with whom my parents had forbidden me to play.