Mom decided to visit her mother, and told us that she’d be gone for the weekend. After their discussion, it came as no surprise to either dad or me, and it was something of a relief that she chose to do so.
Dad said that we needed a weekend together, just the two of us guys, without worrying about what mom would say or do. Sort of like camping indoors, just hopefully without the canned beans this time!
We had said goodbye to mom at the bus station, trying to think of something to say before she boarded the bus. Dad seemed to have the hardest time, telling her to say hello to her mother for him and tell her that he was sorry to hear how her lumbago had been acting up. He and mom looked at each other like they wanted to say something, but just couldn’t find the right words to say. She just waved halfheartedly, as the bus pulled away from the curb, and disappeared into the distance. Dad and I drove home in silence, not quite knowing, what to say to each other!
Dinner was an experience in itself. Dad put on one of Mom’s aprons, and turned the radio way up high while we cooked. I’d never really experienced my father in that way before. He sang along to the music, and twirled the frying pan behind his back, as if he had done that sort of thing for a living. He threw in a lot of spices that probably didn’t go together, then drowned the whole mess in ketchup to make up for the missing mom touches with the finished product.
After we had eaten, and had complemented each other on the best meal, we ever had tasted, we cleaned up the mess in the kitchen, then went outside to look at the stars in the nighttime sky. Dad told me the names of the constellations, and showed me Polaris, the North Star. I told him it was getting chilly, but I didn’t want that moment to end, goose-bumps and all. After we came in again, he made us some hot cocoa and found some cookies hiding in one of mom’s many cookie hiding places, and we curled up on the sofa to watch some film with John Wayne and Montgomery Clift.
Dad liked to watch those old movies, but was rarely in the living room with mom, when they were on. I guess, he reached some sort of compromise with her years before, about him not watching Western Movies and her not entering his garage sanctuary and cleaning it up. During one of the commercials, Dad started talking to me about what we should do tomorrow, it being Saturday and all. I really didn’t have any suggestions, but he said that we should go to the movies, and that I should ask my little friend, the Girl next door, if she wanted to accompany us? I nearly fell off the sofa, when he said that!
I said that “I’d ask her tomorrow, after we had eaten breakfast.” My father didn’t even ask if she was Canadian, or Tierra del Fueguen, which would have been the first words out of mom’s mouth, with the next being, “Not on your life!”I guess, dad saw things differently than mom, and that alone brought us closer together. I already started to worry about asking my friend, if she wanted to come with us. There was that thing about being alone with her in the dark that frightened me most of all. She was so impetuous and all, which meant that I was never quite sure, what would happen next with her, even though I thought I understood her pretty well by now.
I tossed and turned all night in bed, dreaming about her, and the things that we had done so far that summer. Some of the dreams were with the Girl next door, just having my mom’s face and voice instead. I think, I’d rather have wrestled with the Blob, or Rodan then having to face someone like her and my mom together in one. I would be there with Raymond Burr fighting Godzilla and Rodan at the same time, while yelling at each other in Japanese while doing so. “Fuji that godless monster, and he’ll be sayonara in no time! I yelled out, being Steve McQueen at that moment. “Watch out for his Datsun, it is going over the hill with a group of tourists, still snapping pictures as they go!” said Raymond Burr with eyebrows looking a bit oriental, pointing some chopsticks on the button that would activate the A-bomb!” Remember Iwo-Jima,” Steve McQueen yelled as the Blob slid into the ocean again, after being frozen by Rodan, and waving at the Japanese flag, one last time.
I awoke with the bed all wet with sweat, and a certain hankering for noodles and Sake, even though I know mom would never allow that kind of foreign stuff to set foot across our door step, without being certified by the USDA, and then probably wouldn’t be allowed in the house anyway! I tumbled down the stairs, only to find Dad in the kitchen trying his best to make pancakes, like Mom would make, but ending up with something that was black on the outside, and raw on the inside. He said that “food like that would put hair on my chest!”. I’m not sure if that was a good thing. Having a hairy chest, and a upset stomach??
After breakfast, I excused myself, and went next door to my friend’s house. I didn’t expect her to be at home, as she always seemed to be busy with this and that, only having time for me, when it was her idea. I knocked on the tattered screen door and waited. I thought I heard noises, like cats being chased by dogs, and plates falling off the cupboards, but finally the door opened a crack with my friend’s face appearing slowly but surely.
“Poindexter, what a surprise! What are you doing here today?” I told her about my father’s idea, and started to turn back towards my house, fully expecting a resounding, “No”, but what turned into a “Yes”, quite unexpectedly. “You Silly Goose, you’ll try anything to get me alone in a dark room, won’t you?” I started to clear my throat, and kick the door jamb with my foot, not quite knowing what to say to that. “I don’t, I mean, I didn’t mean it like that, I mean….” I surprised myself at being at a loss for words, especially after all that we had experienced together so far this summer.
“The quiet ones, are always the really hot lovers!” was all she had to say. I got all red in my face, and didn’t know what to say, other than we’d pick her up around 2pm, and drive to the local cinema.
My palms were really sweaty, when I left her house. I tried to think about something else than being alone in the dark with her, my father and everyone else who thought “movie” today. I tried to put it out of my mind by mowing the lawn with our push-mower. I liked how it made a pattern depending on which way I pushed it. I figured that I probably could have spelled my name, if I really thought about it, but it would probably backfire on me in the end. I could almost hear my mother’s voice, saying “What in the world is wrong with the front lawn? That is the first impression, our visitors see, when they come up the front walk! It almost looks like someone wrote their name in the grass! I would imagine some tricky foreigner is trying to mark our house as the next one to rob, by writing something in our Kentucky Bluegrass Lawn! I knew it, when the Democrats were voted into office at the last election! Now we are all going to purgatory, on the way to something worse. I knew it would happen to us!”
It’s funny, how I can hear my mother’s voice, even though she is 200 miles away. I can always imagine what she will say, when things don’t suit her way of thinking. She is no stranger to telling us about what she likes and doesn’t like, so it is rather easy knowing what she is going to say in certain situations. I think that Dad thought the same way too, that is until this weekend came along, and left him wondering, just what mom would be thinking about right now! We might have grown closer since mom left, but there were still a lot of things left unsaid. I guess, it isn’t always easy being an adult, with all of their other worries and bills and things to think about. I hope it is different, when I get to his age?
Finally it was time to go. Dad locked the house and we went out to the car, with me craning my neck for my friend. “I told her 2pm, which is now, but I’m sure she’ll be here in a few minutes” I told my father, hoping that he wouldn’t get mad at her being late. “No problem at all, we have until 2:40 until the movie starts anyway.” Dad seemed to take things in stride, as if it didn’t matter if we made it to the first film or the next. Mom would have screamed and yelled that the neighbors would consider us the laughing stock of the town, if we couldn’t even show up for a simple thing like the movies on time, when we lived so close and everything. Dad started the car, as if it were now or never. He shifted into reverse, and started to back down the driveway. I frantically looked left and right, hoping that my friend would make it at the last minute. When he reached the street and started to drive, the back door suddenly flew open, and my friend literally jumped through the opening into the moving car. “Whew! she said. That was a close one. I almost got my knickers in a twist!”
And with that, we were on our way towards town….