Saturday, September 1, 2007

Labor Day Weekend

I am not having any party. The neighbors are having a party. Their lawn is set up with tents and awnings and nets for games. The sun and the sky are perfect, cooler than it has been. Just enough to mourn the summer.

I just want to stay in bed. Eli has been his cutest self, teasing me to get up, with his head cocked, offering me his paw. Even Chinny sits beside him, imploring me with her big yellow eyes. I have nothing to get up for. Except to have a cigarette.

I think of party days. When I would be in the kitchen squashing cooked potatoes through my fingers and stealing bites from the hard boiled egg yolks before I put them in the salad. The doors would be standing open, the kids running and asking what time we were leaving or the company was arriving, Max trying to be several places at once. Tony would be running to buy ice and stocking up the refrig with so much beer I had no room for the hamburgers and salads, and asking if I thought he should buy wine.

My sister would be on the phone with my mother, working out the details of the day. Who was bringing what and what time we would eat it. We would probably have cake for Arthur's birthday. He would love the day, the conversation, the family.

Tony's mother and father might be there, Eunice ceaselessly smoking her long brown cigarettes and Milt, in an orange sweatshirt, with his cigar. John and Linda would come and we would build a fire in the evening and swat mosquitos and keep the kids from falling in the blaze. Linda would entertain with her stories and her opinions and yell at John for being stupid and a man. When everyone else left, we might play Trivial Pursuit at the dining room table.

Long ago, it was Grandpa Baker and "Etta who could never be left out of anything" and sweet Aunt Ethel and maybe Maybelle with her two obnoxious children and whichever husband was in her wake at the time.

Grandpa and I and my sisters, Aunt Ethel, maybe my father, would play croquet on my parent's front lawn while my chubby mother sat in her lawn chair and critiqued. We had the best iver croquet set which my grandfather giver-of-great-gifts had brought from Albany Hardware and Iron where he worked. Gramp and I played croquet endlessly, long after the others had conceded defeat. We were the best, he and I.

I am the grandmother now. Alone with my dog and my cat and my books and computer. The children and grandchildren are scattered. Michael in Oregon, Zach in California, Laurie on a trip to NYC. Josh lives in the city, married now with Amy and Egan. Tony is living in his own house. My sisters don't like me. My parents are gone. Gramp and Aunt Ethel and Linda and Milt are all dead. Eunice in Florida, John in South Carolina.

There won't be any cake or potato salad. No Max. No children. No campfire or croquet.

And I have no reason to get out of bed. Except to have a cigarette. One of the long brown skinny ones like Eunice smokes.

Feeling sorry for myself

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