This picnic was located in what was once practically our back yard. So, everything was weird.
Not bad weird. Just weird.
It seems that all I need is to be tired, or to have had a couple of drinks, or be deep in thought - to find myself walking home, to my old apartment, rather than to the train to this my mom's coach house.
Jesus, this town.
It's the lady who sells books from her stoop.
It's the mean hippies at the old building who, for whatever reason it's still so damned awkward to be around - that you'd think we had had an actual feud (but we never really did).
It's things like the enormous double sided Mickey Mouse face that sat on someone's porch for ten years.
It's the corn cobs forever discarded in the gutters.
It's the rusted bike skeletons chained everywhere.
It's Wigs & Plus and how that they never bothered to make it grammatically correct.
As we made our way down the Milwaukee Blvd,
I saw that certain businesses were not only still going, but had expanded into more than one business - sometimes right next door to each other.
I felt bad that Lenny & Me was open on the Fourth. Still, I was only too happy to show Tom the very whys and hows of Lenny & Me.
It felt like he and I had done this before, but in truth, we never had.
Tom found a sort of semi-circle 1960's Rob and Laura Petrie cocktail bar that he wanted. And a couple of old typewriters.
A typewriter. What would that be like at this point?
A toy typewriter I had had when I was little popped up in my mind. It was blue plastic.
It actually worked.
I would do anything for that typewriter right now.
Wouldn't it be funny to write a book that won a Pulitzer Prize and then to admit that the whole thing had been written on a toy typewriter?
So, Tom & Me were at Lenny & Me.
How much had I bought at Lenny & Me? How much had I sold? How much of what I sold there had been bought there in the first place?
So many skirts, so many typewriters, so little time.
So, we bought a raffle ticket to support art in schools, locally.
The prize? A typewriter.
I should mention that it was so hot yesterday that all of my carefully applied-in-layers deodorant immediately slid off upon stepping out of the house.
So, I smelled, as Sylvia Plath might say, friendly for the rest of the day.
Later, after the picnic, when we got back home and hunkered down in the air conditioned happiness that is our living room, I started the process of finally watching District 9.
I'd been afraid of District 9 for so long that I still can't believe I fell asleep before the movie started.
But I did.
One Fourth of July, when I was seven, we had a huge party. We probably did every year after that, but this one was the first of what I will call the suburban series of such parties.
My dad grilled steaks, shishkabob and bratwurst (which he had lovingly marinaded in beer for over 24 hours beforehand).
My mom made salads, deserts and drinks for everyone.
It was fun.
At some point all the kids piled into our non-air conditioned, but somewhat shady den to watch The Yellow Submarine on channel 7.
I swear that we did this with the same sense of tradition as we did opening Christmas presents or hunting Easter eggs.
The Yellow Submarine somehow got all mixed up with The Fourth of July when I was growing up.
It just made sense.
The whole Yellow Submarine /Fourth of July association was further confused by me at that age with Screaming Yellow Zonkers, which was a popcorn + toffee snack that came in a box.
It, too, was very popular at the time.
As for my confusion (all those yellows) I think it had a great deal to with the very Peter Max-ness of both things (which nobody bothered to explain to me, but was, none the less, very much on my mind).
What was this Peter Max?
Why was it different?
What did Monty Python, The Beatles, Screaming Yellow Zonkers and the 7-Up sign (not to mention a few of my mom's scarves) all have in common?
I wasn't sure.
But something was definitely going on, there.
I was seven.
It was The Fourth of July.
And it was on that day, for some incredible reason, that Mr. Kahnwal decided he was bored (or was it that he was especially fun and clever?) and wanted to go see Jaws.
Just like that.
I mean it. We were right in the middle of eating potato salad, waving off bees and continually changing records when and Mr. Kahnwal suddenly, indugently decided that Jaws it is.
Independant of anything his wife or anyone else thought.
My mom said that we could go with Mr. Kahnwal (though, in all truth, he was going with or without us) and this, too, was wildly unprecedented.
So, we went to see Jaws.
It was something fun and happy all rolled up in something fun and happy.
I cite the Tootsie Pop as the closest of principles to this turn of events.
I should add that, when we got out of the theater, it was just in time to go see the fireworks.
Such was the perfect timing and candy-with-in-a-candy nature of that day.
No. Yesterday was nothing like that.
Nothing remotely like that..