I was slaving over a hot stove the other day, cookin’ up the usual slop, when Sunnybuns came in and asked me a question.
“Ma, what did you do for fun when you were a kid?”
“Oh man!” I started off, “when I was a kid? Boy ... that was a looonnnng time ago ... why do you ask?”
“Well, you don’t know how to play video games, so I was wonderin’ what you did when you were little... like me.”
As I stirred and flipped and tossed with my eight arms revolving around the stove, I said, “When I was your age, I was out selling seeds.”
“Seeds! I used to order them every summer and sell them in my neighborhood. Of course, we lived on post back then, and everybody knew everybody.”
“Nana would let you go out by yourself?” He was gobsmacked.
“Yeah ... I would go out with my box of seeds and ring doorbells and ask people if they wanted to buy these flower seeds that I had.”
“Wow, Ma, that’s cool! Did you make any money?”
“Mmhmm. Just enough to cover the cost of my next shipment. People always bought them because they were so cheap.”
“Did Nana ever buy any?”
“Oh yeah!” I said, laughing, “She always bought seeds. She’d go out there and plant and water and nurse, but nothing ever grew. She had a black thumb.”
“What does that mean?” he asked, eyes wide.
“It means that she killed everything she tried to grow. People who are good with plants have ‘green thumbs.’
”He was quiet for a second, nodding his head.
“What color is your thumb, Ma?”
“Mine? I think they call it ‘blister’...” I said, examining my thumb.
“Blister? What kind of color is that?” he asked, giving me that “how weird are you” look.
“It’s the color your thumb turns from having to rake up all your gardening mistakes.”
“Oh. What else did you do?”
“Went swimming, bike riding, skating, walking, played hide-n-seek, two square, jump rope, basketball, dodgeball, and we were lucky because we had a playground right behind our quarters. We did stuff outside all the time. The only time we had to go in was to eat, and sometimes Nana would just take out a tray of sandwiches and a jug of Kool-aid — then she’d lock the door.”
“She’d lock you out?”
“Yeah! One time she locked us out so she could get the housework done. There were a lot of us, you know. We were dyin’ of thirst and hollerin’ at her through the window. Next thing we knew, she was sliding out a tray with a jug of Kool-aid on it. We had a little kiddie pool in the front yard, just like the one you used to have, and we filled that up with water and sat in it. We would take turns walking around the pool with the hose, getting our heads wet. A bunch of kids crammed into that little pool, with all our clothes on.”
“What did Nana say?”
“GET OUTTA THAT BLAH BLAH POOL!!!” and we started laughing.
“Well how come I don’t get to do stuff like that?”
Uh oh. The bolt of lightning I hoped would not ever come.
I turned to him with a bright smile and said, “Hey! Let’s go bowling tomorrow!”
The magic eraser.
“Yeah! That would be fun!” he shouted, skipping down the hall.
Another bullet dodged in the game of life.
I wanted to say, “Because people are pigs, son, and I can’t let you out of my sight for two seconds.”
Maybe I’ll go bike riding with him tonight. Around 11. Just for fun.