Before digging in on Alta Laguna Boulevard, I lived on Aster
Street, Griffith Way, St. Ann's Drive and La Costa Court. This last
one is off El Toro Road and only in town by a couple hundred yards
and a technicality, but they're all Laguna and our kids grew up in
The other day I walked around these places again, in some cases
for the first time in years. I had lived here, behind the Cottage
restaurant on Aster Street ... here, beyond the baseball field on St.
Ann's. And yet at none of these sites had anyone put up a plaque.
I didn't knock, or ask to go inside anywhere. I tried that a few
years back in Hinsdale, Ill., in the house where I grew up. You go in
and it's all wrong; it's full of somebody else's stuff.
This trip was pleasant, and so were the neighborhoods, but the
tenor of the afternoon was nostalgic, you know, slightly sad, as it
tends to be when you go over old ground, because the time is past,
after all. A chance encounter altered the tone.
Griffith Way is a cul-de-sac below Park, in a gully behind the
It's a good area for kids, since cars can't go through, and there
are paths and trees and some brush and scrub leading up to Park.
On this day two shirtless little boys were running around in
sneakers, reminding me of my son Keaton and his pal Willie at that
I was about to walk up the steep dirt path to Park when I was
accosted by the boys, the more assertive of whom said, "We saw a
I was surprised. "I used to live here but I never saw a coyote."
The boy said the coyote was little and ran away. Then he looked up
at me hopefully and asked, "Are you a jungle man?"
I had on black shoes, a green shirt and tan jeans. Even if I'd
been in a loincloth it wouldn't really have been happening. But this
boy, as Keaton did a few years earlier, had transformed his
neighborhood into Adventureland and was willing to cast me in it.
Robin Williams would have answered yes and done something to back
it up; I wasn't sharp enough. We parted amiably anyway, and I went
home revived. Time has passed, yes, but you're never washed up as
long as some kid thinks you could be a jungle man.