It is known that there is a very amusing age in childhood in which children speak in one way to their parents when they are alone, and in another when they are in front of their friends. It is about the child he still is and the adolescent he is going to be, whose problems with his body were discussed in this column a few weeks ago regarding a friend of mine, Luca Gistau, whose birthday is tomorrow. But this is not for Luca, already a lost teenager, but for my son, who begins to shed his childhood more slowly than he should when he is with me, and faster than usual when he is with the others. The fight that he has with himself is fascinating and reminds me of an anthological scene in the cinema, the one in which Sergio Leone puts a child to grow up in Once upon a Time in America. Sure it’s not the right comparison (because of the time and certainly because of the children) but art, and that movie is beautiful art, is never adequate, that’s why it’s art.

In the tape, Patsy, a 13-year-old boy, finds out that a neighbor of hers, also a minor, is prostituting herself in exchange for a charlotte russe, a cream cake. So the boy decides to save and finally goes to a store to buy the charlotte and lose virginity. With the cake, he goes to the building where the girl lives. Sitting on the steps of that poor Jewish neighborhood of New York at the beginning of the 20th century, in front of the girl’s door, Patsy looks at the cake and, after much thought, inserts his finger to taste the cream. A little nothing happens. Then another bit. We’ve all done it and it’s the same with the cakes, the pasta pot and sex: a little bit is impossible. Martín Caparrós already said it in his podcast america Sonora: abstinence is much easier than moderation. Patsy removes the icing, puts it back on, picks it up again thoughtfully, and eats it. Out of control, he grabs the cake and bites into it. When the girl finally comes out, he asks her: “And you, what did you want?” And the boy, with his mouth smeared with cream: “The other boys told me that… Well, nothing.” Patsy wants to stop being a virgin and the girl asks her for something very expensive: to stop being a child in exchange for a cake, which was all she wanted a year before. Man Patsy grants boy Patsy the ultimate victories: let him taste some cream. But it is enough to try her for the child to stand up to the man: she wants everything. It is a Gramscian scene (the new has not just been born, the old has not just died) that Leone resolves with a life lesson: the difference between a metaphor and reality is the same as hunger for sex and plain hunger.

This masterpiece contains a scene that sums up even more painfully the child’s desire to be a child when adult life suddenly interferes with its cruelest teaching. The desire, the ingenuity and the innocent look that is torn to pieces but refuses to stop seeing life as a game. It is about Dominic, a ten-year-old boy who is shot in the back while he was fleeing after a prank. All of his friends had started to run, and when he falls down, he apologizes to one of them who looks at him scared: “Sorry, I slipped.”

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By Nail

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