â€œDo you wait till you"re done?
â€œYes, I said, as I stepped out of our bathroom.
â€œI mean, do you wait till you"re sure you"re finished? Mom said.
â€œI really do.
â€œObviously, you don"t, Mom said wagging a finger at the stream of pee meandering down my left pant leg.
â€œIt fools me.
â€œWell, why don"t you fool it back? Make believe you"re putting it away, then leave it out and see what happens?
â€œFor how long?
â€œGet your shoes on, get your brother and let"s go, Mom said, losing steam. â€œIf we"re lucky, we"ll sneak in before the Gospel.
No adult lecture could dampen my mood. I was invincible. It was the Summer Solstice's June 21, 1964, sunset 8:42 p.m.'s confirmed through consultation with my Reader"s Digest Farmer"s Almanac calendar. Liberated from 4th grade two days before, this was the first of an endless string of Sundays where the looming gloom of Monday faded away. On Sunday during the school year, I"d carry a nagging dread of the next day through all my activities. Summer empowers Sunday.
Nine o"clock mass at St. Stephen"s was always a sellout. Avoiding the browbeating ushers, we tried slipping into a crowded pew in the back of the church. My brother, Rory, led, I followed, then Mom. Mom pushed me, I pushed Rory, he pushed a holy-roller lady and she said, â€œWell, I never!
At the altar, Father Dudley stopped his prayer, dropped his raised arms to his side, turned his head slowly, and gave Mom a dirty look.
I flipped my head toward Rory and mouthed the words, â€œWhat are you gonna to do?
Mom mouthed back, â€œThanks a lot.
After mass, I ran home to put on my sneakers, shorts and T-shirt. It was 10 o"clock, there were only 11 hours left of daylight and so much to do. First, I had to finish Dad"s Father"s Day card. I had time. Around two o"clock the night before, Dad fumbled with his keys in the hallway, came in and banged around, pulled a frozen turkey out of the freezer and dropped it on the linoleum. After a short banging break, he put on his bedroom light and yelled at Mom, â€œThere"s nothing to eat! He made a racket until he found two cans of sardines and a box of Saltines. After he ate, he tried to put the TV on but Mom got up and shoved him into bed. This morning, Dad was sleeping in.
I cut a Joe DiMaggio photo out of Life Magazine from The Yankee Clipper"s rookie year, 1937. Joe, with a gap-tooth smile, had his bat slung lazily over his shoulder. From the same magazine, I tore out a photo of a young Frank Sinatra in a zoot suit singing to a bunch of squealing girls in the Paramount Theatre. I placed Dad"s two favorite guys next to each other on the front of the card and pasted dialogue bubbles over the heads.
DiMaggio said, â€œDear Bob, your Sonny Boy said you"re the Best Dad in the World, so I"m going to go five-for-five today and smack two homers into the left field bleachers just for you. Happy Fathers Dad, love, Jolting Joe.
Sinatra said, â€œHey Bobby, your son, Tommy, thinks you"re his Night and Day. Happy Pappy"s Day! Ding a Ling Ding, love, Francis Albert.
I wrote Dad a poem inside the card. It was kind of personal, so it"s just between him and me. When I finished, I went to his bedroom and gently left it on Mom"s pillow next to his sleeping head.
Job done, I flew down the hall stairs. Surveying the scene from my stoop, I saw circles of kids and had several options. The hot sun baked the stoop"s railing. Summer"s potential raced my heart.
Thomas Pryor"s work has been published in The New York Times, he has recently completed his first book and he curates a show at Cornelia Street Cafe. Read his blog at YorkvilleStoopstoNuts.blogspot.com.
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