Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Summer, Part Two

If you remember, the last time we met, we were enjoying lunch after a morning of playing outside. It was a summer day and we were children and the days were long and filled to the brim with fun and life and noise.  

Plus, if it was noon, I’d already skinned both my knees.

See the bells on the handle....

The morning was spent climbing and jumping, smacking springy pink balls against walls and wondering when -- exactly -- the Good Humor man would push his cart down the street, jingling bells announcing his arrival. Very few of us have money but we're excited nonetheless.

After lunch, the weird twins from around the corner might stop by. Two pre-adolescent fraternal lummoxes, they are – in theory – too old to play with us. They wear matching sundresses and have wild hair and the red head will soon teach me how to swear. It is with her that I discover my love of profanity and receive encouragement on how to artfully combine these robust new words into useful combinations. 

Her sister, Lummox #2, will tell me grisly stories about ghosts in graveyards that will not only make me sick with fear but will remain with me to this day, causing vague unease when I recall the details. 

Stoops are for sitting.
If the afternoon got rainy, we’d disperse. I would sit in my vestibule with a book and a bowl of dusky grapes or juicy cherries and read. I’d tilt my folding chair farther and farther back until my grandma would intervene and the warm pavement would emit the distinctive aroma of summertime rain. 

Sometimes we’d even be treated to a “sun shower” during which we’d prance about, literally shouting with joy.

Look at the size of that trunk!!!
My grandfather didn’t like the heat and prevailed upon my Uncle Tommy to procure something we’d only dare dream of. The day the air conditioner arrived, lifted out of the cavernous trunk of my uncle’s 1965 Pontiac, I marveled at its size which was, approximately, that of a piano. Way too big for the bay window, it sat on the floor of the living room and made the room so frigid that we’d wear sweaters. It was fantastic. In the winter, we kept plants on it.

But night was the best. 

When I was very young, it meant a bath, fragrant talcum powder applied with a huge puff and fresh pajamas. Put to bed before dark, I resented my early bedtime only until I fell asleep which was almost immediate. 

But, when we were older, extended families and friends would gather on the stoops as the kids played under the street lights. Every night on his way to work, one of my friend’s fathers would trudge to the subway station.  Head down, in shirt sleeves and a brimmed hat, he’d already worked a full day and his obvious fatigue was a disquieting  reminder that, apparently, it was a lot harder to be an adult than a kid.

Our biggest problem was choosing what flavor ice pop we’d pull from the refrigerated case of the bakery around the corner. They cost a nickel and cherry flavor would dye our lips bright red and we’d pretend  we were wearing  lipstick. My favorite flavor was lemon which was white as snow. We’d saunter home with sticky hands and faces and the mosquitoes, alerted by the sugar, would flit around our heads and whine into our ears.

Each day flowed into the next. Summers were long but inevitably we’d notice the days growing shorter but back then, everything seemed to happen in its own good time.

We didn’t go on vacation. We didn’t need to “get away.” Every day was already vacation.

Enjoy your summer, dear readers. There’s still plenty left.