The sound of women’s laughter pierces the evening breeze like breaking glass. Children fueled by hot dogs and sugary frozen Slurpee’s run with sparklers through the back yard. Their happy screaming voices like a pendulum, now close, now far away. In the upstairs bathroom I look at my reflection in the mirror and begin to hum “I’m going to wash that gray right out of my hair”. Damn you Miss Clairol, that jingle will be stuck in my head for a week. If you are somewhere near my age, it will be stuck in your head too. You’re welcome. No one likes to suffer alone.
It is the third of July. How quickly Paul’s family, has become my family; the day before the fourth, now our annual Independence Day celebration. Regular time stops long enough for me to understand. This is my life. This is a tradition.
As I walk out of the house and into the back yard, I see Pops giving a geography lesson to my daughter Taylor and her friend Lisa. He is pointing to the wall map of Cape Ann located behind the outdoor bar. There is a knowing and unexpected mature look exchanged between Lisa and Taylor. They are more interested in eighteen year old boys, but will kindly listen to my father-in-law’s story.
While watching the lesson unfold, something my mother-in-law said two weeks ago surfaces in my conscious brain:
“Oh my Gawd, Pops is so conceited. When he gets out of the showa’ he says ‘don’t peek!’”
I have seen my future.
I cannot count how many times I have heard Paul make that same statement while gingerly covering himself. And in terms of lessons, life with Paul is an extended “Jeopardy” episode. “I’ll take Boston history for $100, Alex”. But there is a comfort in knowing what lies around the corner. Just as I know that when it turns dark, we will fill our plastic cups with a “bikini martini” and walk down to the town common.
As we pass the “Frat house” on our way to the T stop, I catch a young shirtless frat boy looking like an eagle on the upper deck eyeing his approaching prey.
“You should be glad your fah-thuh’s are with you, otherwise I’d say a lot more. You’re lucky men” He shouts.