“She could have been yours.”
“So I’ve been told,” I replied speaking through my teeth.
He was smiling. From ear to ear, as would be expected. In fact, he hadn’t stopped smiling since he’d met her. He looked over his shoulder at her as she shook the hands of departing guests, smiling from ear-to ear herself. Oh my God, I thought, that smile is contagious and my brother is right, it’s rather extremely nauseating. “Good luck with her,” I said to him, intending to make my exit.
He turned his head back towards me, “I’m sorry, what did you say? I was distracted.”
“Oh, nothing, I’ve just gotta get going.”
“Ah man, thanks for coming though, glad you were here.”
“Uh-huh,” I replied nonchalantly.
I walked towards the door, smiling and waving goodbye to her with the best fake smile I could muster. She quickly excused herself from the guests with whom she’d been chatting and skimpered over to me. “Leaving without saying goodbye?!” she said out of a half-smiling mouth.
“Would you expect anything else from me?”
She slapped my left arm.
—– —– —– —– —–
Almost six months ago, I’d grabbed two ice cream sandwiches out of the freezer. My younger brother and I walked out to the front yard and lay down facing the sky.
My brother sat up. “It’s rather nauseating,” he blurted out, referring to my friend’s constant smiling. That made me smile. He’d only just turned five, and his observation had been so succinct and matter-of-fact, it was as if he was twenty years older. “How come girls like to hit boys?” he asked.
“They’re just teasing.”
“How come boys don’t slap back?” he’d inquired, desperately trying to eat his ice cream sandwich neatly on the steamy July afternoon.
“Politics,” I replied, trying to keep the explanation simply adult enough so he wouldn’t continue the conversation.
“What’s tolipics?” he said after he’d licked up dripping ice cream running down his right forearm.
My thoughts momentarily wandered. And then without giving so much as a thought I pondered aloud, “It’s how adults complicate life.”
“Ohh…” his voice drifted silent. “My hands are sticky.”
“I see that. Let’s go wash them off.”
We’d walked around to the side of the house and I turned on the spicket. My younger brother walked up, bent down, and stuck his hands under the cold, running water. He turned his head to the left and squinted his eyes as he looked up at me. “This isn’t so contplicated, is it, Ronnie?”