Tag Archives: food

better than sex.

There. I said it. As I rapidly approach the age of 56 in a week or two with my heels dug into the floor like a sugar-induced 4 year old at the end of a Chucky Cheese Birthday party, I have proclaimed that a good foot rub IS, in fact, better than sex.

footNow mind you, I’ve had my share of outstanding sex, so I speak with authority. I’ve had sex with people that I either long to remember, can’t remember, or don’t WANT to remember. There were sexcapades in exotic locations like beach front homes, hot tubs overlooking city skylines, the Ritz-Carlton overlooking Central Park in autumn, once on a gondola ride to the top of Mount Killington in Vermont, and even once in the private dining room of a restaurant. I’ve also enjoyed sexual encounters in not so exotic, but no less exciting places like sofas, cars (both front and back seats and once the hood of), bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, and even the occasional alley and stairwell. Oh the blog entries I have ahead of me…

However, none of them compare to the feeling of having an honest to goodness foot rub. My job in sales requires that I work on my feet for several hours at a time. I continue to smile at work in hard soled shoes and I am fortunate enough to have a man who thinks nothing of offering me a foot rub when I get home to make me feel good. He’s pretty much offered to do them from about a month into our now 8 year relationship.

He has good hands… strong hands. Over time Daryl has learned to adjust his touch via my facial expressions, verbal cues, or perhaps it’s the guttural moan that accompanies an especially tender ball. Of my foot, the ball of my foot! We haven’t used lotions, oils or scrubs while he continues to improve the circulation of my aching dogs.

Then one time after a particularly vigorous rub (or maybe it’s been several times, damn it!) I thought I heard him ask ME if I’d return the favor.

Asking me AFTER my foot rub, is like asking a guy if he loves you after sex. Hello? I just came after all that pleasure and now I want to take a nap. Wham bam thank you uh… MAN. Anyway, I ignored his requests for reciprocal rubs because… well… I think it’s because my hands aren’t strong enough (lie) or perhaps I have an aversion to feet in general (lie), or maybe it’s just due to the fact that I’m selfish (truth).

Well tonight, it’s going down. This afternoon I went out and bought one of those foot soaking bubble massagers at Wal-Mart for under 20 bucks. Problem solved! I’ll just tell him to let me fill it up, plug it in, turn it on, and watch the fun begin! It’s like a dildo for your feet!

You think I’m THAT shallow?

Don’t worry. I’m not THAT selfish and uncaring most times. I WILL let him soak his feet after I make an outstanding dinner accompanied with a choice wine. I’ll provide music and a relaxing mood as he soaks his cares away. Once he’s all wet and seduced by bubbly joy, I promise to give his balls (feet) a rub as well as manipulate his digits (minds up here) with scented oils and moisturizing creams.

Hopefully he’ll be so relaxed, he won’t be able to walk. In a good way.

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out and about in the city of brotherly love…

This past Sunday afternoon, the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community celebrated our city’s diversity with the annual “Outfest” held in the “gayborhood” of Philadelphia.

I was fortunate to have off on a rare Sunday, and Daryl and I took full advantage of the spectacular weather to explore not only the Outfest celebration later in the afternoon, but also to take a self-imposed walking tour to a few other locations in the “City of Brotherly Love” along the way AFTER our delicious breakfast at the Midtown Diner (which I describe in my other blog “a little taste.”)

I wanted to show Daryl a sculpture entitled Freedom by Zenos Frudakis at the base of the Glaxo-Smith Kline building at 16th and Vine streets that I had only seen in passing while driving through town in the past.

This is what we saw.

and this…

and this…

and lastly, this…

Daryl was totally impressed with my decision to walk several blocks to see this amazing sculpture. I knew he’d like it.

I used to live in “Philly,” and I loved it when I did. I’d walk EVERYwhere, even during inclimate weather. Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods and very walkable.

We saw this.

a mural on the side of Le Meridien Hotel on Arch Street at 14th.

and we passed this…

long ago abandoned, but I love the old signage on Pauline's Bridal Shop.

We continued on our excursion through town and stumbled into “Occupy Philadelphia!” which was being held on the western side of City Hall. It was truly enlightening to actually see the people, the tents, the posters and signs, all the chalk messages written on the sidewalk and the very real energy of the 99%. What I think intrigued me personally the most was the contradiction of the tent town of the “occupiers” in the shadows of these…

and this…

like this…

with their messages that included this…

and this…

oh… and this one.

We felt that we should get moving and decided to stroll past the new “paintbrush” sculpture at the Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts Building. Sorry guys, but it reminds me of Woody Woodpecker.

Philadelphia Academy of Fine Arts

At this point of our walking tour, the weather, while beautiful, was making Daryl sweat through his polo shirt. He usually wears a tee shirt underneath, but wanted to feel “liberated” this day, so he went what I guess I would call topless commando? It didn’t work to his liking…

So we ended up here.

… to pick up a tee shirt and a new polo shirt for the Princess. Sigh. Once cleaned up and once again presentable, we were quickly on our way waving goodbye to Macy’s.

FINALLY, we arrived albeit an alley next to Sister’s and behind Woody’s, to Philadelphia’s Outfest.

The music was pumpin’ and the crowds were jumpin’! It was about 5 or 6 square blocks of diversity, camaraderie, playfulness, food, music, and every age and type of glorious human being the city has to offer.

We saw this…

and lots of these…

and of course I MADE Daryl do this…

that's Daryl on the left in his newly purchased shirt from Macys. duh.

 
 
 
 and we ran into her…
 

Shelita Buffet?

while searching for friends…
 
 
while we watched a fabulous dance troupe…
 
 
The day was young and we continued to enjoy the company of more good people, like these…
 
 
and these…
 
 
and these…
 
 
and her…
 

blowing UP condoms is so much better than blowing WITH them

 
and this “lady” came along…
 
 
and turned Daryl BACK into a Christian!
 

my handsome Christian!

 
We had a fantastic day in the City of Brotherly Love!

Peppah and Salt?

 
… and on our way to the car, we passed this… trying to figure out how appropriate it was to see at the end of our day in the city.
 

gourmet? pancake? balls?? Next time!

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a day at Longwood Gardens…

I LOVE Longwood Gardens, just outside West Chester, PA. I decided on a whim that on this amazingly clear warm late summer day that Daryl and I were BOTH off, we should spend some time here. We strolled and sat, strolled some more, then ate a leisurely lunch. Daryl took an extra allergy pill (he truly works at our relationship) and everything was fine until he said at the end of our outing that “Mr. Longwood should be proud!*” I laughed SO hard that I actually cried. I love that silly man.

(the photos are just from my iphone)

SO relaxed while enjoying a spectacular day at Longwood Gardens.

 

Italian Water Gardens

 

Brugmansia (Angels Trumpets)

 

breezed hallway off the Main Conservatory

 

water lily pads

 
 

Chime Tower

 

gazebo outside of the rose garden

 

tea rose... the fragrance was amaaazing!

 

topiary garden

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

within the "Eye of Water" pavillion

  
* Daryl is WELL aware that Longwood Gardens is NOT named after a Mr. Longwood.

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just a taste.

Yesterday, as I was taking advantage of the outstanding weather while enjoying my 3 mile brisk walk in the park, I was trying to think of a concept to write about later in the day using “taste.” I wanted to use metaphors that included and fused the power of the senses to bring about my love for the “flavor of tasting the day.” I know that might sound odd, but I truly enjoy food. Actually, I enjoy meals. I love the process of creating culinary atmospheres that are filled with conversation, laughter, good wine and backed with some amazing music.

I never DID author a piece about tasting the day. Just as I sat down on the sofa to get started on producing something about how the sky was mixed with clouds like a wine based rue…

I felt the earth move.

Literally, I could see and feel the condo vibrating and undulating under me. It lasted a brief ten seconds or so, but it was a very unusual sensation. As I looked at the cat for some sort of visual on her take of the experience, I saw no reaction from her as she continued to swat at a honey bee on the porch. I initially thought that perhaps my blood sugar was out of whack, or maybe I was experiencing an unusual heart palpitation.

Then I watched as several Face Book statuses began rolling like the ground beneath me. “Did anyone feel that??” “Earthquake reported at 5.8, centered in VA!” “Cell phones are jammed!”

I was not crazy. This time.

Needless to say, the activity and the buzz from this rare East Coast occurrence put a slight damper on my writing project for the day.

So I compensated. I played chef.

Below are photos of what I now fondly refer to as my “Quake Concoctions.” Enjoy.

"Earth Topplers?" Home made olive oil and fresh garlic toastettes, topped with plum tomato, sweet corn from the cob, spicy shrimp, fresh chopped basil and shaved Parmesian.

 

"Richter Scale Skewers?" Fresh sun-dried tomato and basil chicken sausage, skewered with local squash, Vadelia onion and red peppers on a bed of brown rice and spicy Thai sauce.

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cracked.

Innocence shattered. A broken reputation. A Cub Scout criminal. My initiation into the wrong side of the law was on a hot summer Sunday afternoon in 1968, when I was just a sun-kissed, freckle-faced, blond-haired skinny kid who was barely 11 years old.

My family had just moved into a newly built home in West Goshen Township. It was a small brick and stucco ranch house on a dead end street situated on a level sixth of an acre. I remember thinking upon entering the side kitchen door and then walking through the dining room, the living room and hallway that it seemed like it took hours to get to my own bedroom in THIS castle. Echoed footsteps on hardwood floors shadowed me from where we moved in our small cramped apartment in the country. I no longer had to share a room with my brother and I no longer had to sleep in the bunk beds of youth.

Freedom for sure… but at what price?

This particularly warm Sunday in June about a month after we moved in, my parents had invited some of our relatives over for a house warming party. The back yard was dotted with aqua blue and sunshine yellow folding web-woven lawn chairs. Red, white and blue Budweiser cans littered a plastic table cloth covered picnic table, as a brand new “colonial orange” charcoal briquette-filled grill from Sears Roebuck puffed white smoke. Several of my laughing aunts and uncles tossed colorful lawn darts toward circular targets among weaving toddlers. Sure, the game was dangerous, but my family was all about living on the edge… and on this day, the family tree was swayin’ and making this branch take a lawless twist to the ground.

In the late afternoon, several of my similarly–aged cousins and I had become bored of the back yard festivities and determined (after we checked with our parents, of course) that perhaps we needed to explore this new uncharted neighborhood and some of its adjoining wild territories. We voted to take a short walk nearby to the newly opened West Goshen Shopping Center across Paoli Pike. We were an eager handful of energetic youngsters looking for an adventure of discovery. We clapped and sang our own made up songs as we strolled to the end of this new street.

Once we crossed the highway, the group of us ran down a hill like an invading army and quickly filled the sleepy “Thrift Drug” store. It was the only store in the whole shopping center that was open on Sundays. We located a large freezer toward the front of the store and began to grab at the boxes of cold, colorful selections of flavored “Twin Popsicles.” The popsicles cost a nickel and they were just what we needed to cool down on this steamy day.

The shopping center was full of stores that were closed on Sundays and was anchored by the ACME Supermarket. The center also included a Hallmark card store, a book store, a Woolworths 5 and 10, a corner hardware store, a men’s clothing store called Ward & Ward and other assorted smaller stores that time has fogged from my memory.

As we sucked the frozen juice of the pops, we left the drug store and came out into the warm summer heat. We headed a short distance toward the ACME where there were groups of neatly stacked chrome shopping carts just begging for our attention. They were all lined up in a straight row of glistening metal baskets on wheels.

I’m not sure exactly who decided to pull a cart out from the pack and start pushing it, but soon the older cousins and I had the smaller kids inside the carts as we shoved them over the sidewalks of the shopping center. Their squeals of laughter at riding in these buggies provoked us to push faster as we raced each other in a frenzy of four-wheeled fun. Back and forth we went, occasionally bumping into each other while the sweaty tiny passengers with cherry red Popsicle lips were giggling at the metallic crash that the carts would echo under the awning of our cement sidewalk “street.” We continued smashing into each other creating loud metal on metal crashes.

“Faster!” the kids would scream. “We want to go to the train station over there!” as they pointed their tiny fingers across the lot. They were indicating that the Ward and Ward Men’s store entrance was the station where we would pretend to fuel our carts and load and unload our tiny passengers. Ward and Ward had an indented entrance. Their doorway was off the main sidewalk allowing their floor to ceiling height windows to display more suits, slacks, shirts, neckties and shiny shoes. It was the PERFECT “train station.”

We quickly made it a race to see who could get there first, bumping each other along the short path to the “station.” There was room for two or three of our carts to be in this “station” area at a time. I had two of my little cousins in my cart as we spun around quicker, now in circles in a race in this tiny vestibule of glass. I too, the driver, was getting dizzy as we laughed then choked as we gasped for air. Suddenly, my cart got out of control and SMASHED directly into the front large glass window of the shop.

It was as if slow motion took over as I remember watching my small cousins turn white from the shock of crashing into the window. I remember watching the glass crack from the point of impact then shatter in large pieces as a deafening alarm went off echoing even louder in the cramped area. I watched in open-mouthed amazement as the cart actually continued traveling into the shop itself as my cousins hopped out of the cart onto crunching glass and out of the store as they ran past me.

I froze. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. All I heard was the shrieking alarm and my feet were glued to the floor of the sidewalk. As I turned slowly around, I could see all my cousins running toward home, a few of them looking back with frightened faces to see if I was coming. “Come on Eddy!” they mouthed, “We have to get home now!” I was still stuck to the ground as my numbed mind began to awaken and I started to run. My cousins were almost near the highway as I tried to pick up my lagging, dreamlike pace.

Suddenly I heard the loud wails of sirens. Quickly, flashing red and blue lights were everywhere as I panicked and stopped in my tracks. I was immediately surrounded by West Goshen Police cars, with no way out. I watched as my cousins crossed the highway in the distance and were quickly out of sight.

I was an emotional child growing up. I was very shy and would cry at the drop of a hat. I once cried to get out of a school holiday play in the second grade so I wouldn’t have to put on a homemade doctor’s uniform to the girl’s nurses costumes. It was pathetic. And now, with this shattered window fiasco, I began to tear up thinking I was going to jail for a very long time.

I stood there motionless as the two policemen approached me with pads of paper out and looking like they were ready to cart me off to some unknown prison in the bowels of a West Goshen Township Building somewhere. The alarm continued to scream as I imagined a diet of bread and water and a hard iron holed bed with no mattress and I began to sob. This was no way to begin my initiation into this new neighborhood. I cried harder still, as the two policemen looked at each other and shrugged. The taller one put his hand on my shoulder and asked me to take a seat in the back of his still flashing police car. I was devastated. I could see a handful of Sunday shoppers looking at me. I was ashamed. I became a criminal that day.

The store’s alarm finally stopped.

My ears still ringing, I watched in silence as the policemen took notes, observed the scene of the crime, took a few measurements and put up some yellow tape. Was I going to be on the news? Would my name be in the paper? Would I get out of doing my math homework? I was contemplating my ruined future as my Dad rolled up in his black Ford Falcon with red bucket seats. Tears began to pour down my cheeks as he strolled up to the police officers while he glanced my way.

All I could think of was that I JUST got a new bed room and now I wouldn’t get to use it. What would my Mom think? Would my family have to move from their new home in shame? My Dad was making gestures and continued to talk as the tall officer continued to write on his yellow pad. Finally, Dad turned and started to walk toward me. I couldn’t read his face through my red and throbbing eyes. He told me to get out of the car and to hop in his. I stood as he slipped his arm around my shoulder and whispered that I would have to pay for the shattered window.

I never did.

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all this talk about debt ceilings is making me hungry.

The roast chicken is in the oven. I prepped the 8-pound bird first by shoving a large orange with a few well-placed cloves up its ass without so much as a last name and a kiss. Ouch. Then I proceeded to forcefully thrust some fresh twigs of rosemary and sprigs of thyme up in there for good measure. Sort of had a quick flashback to an online porn movie that involved a chicken (I think) and a hand (I think) that I viewed once by mistake that was like watching a train wreck…

ANYway… I continued by cutting up half a sweet onion to line the roasting pan and I also poured about a cup of organic chicken stock in the pan for moisture. I dotted the chicken’s skin with fresh garlic, cracked pepper medley and a touch of ground sea salt. It should be done in a couple of hours. I have some fresh sweet corn on the cob and a couple of heads of fresh broccoli to steam, a few flavored martinis to shake and lo and behold, we have a great meal to celebrate our second weekly “NO TECHNOLOGY” night!

We’ve decided to have one night a week where we lock up (not literally of course) our laptop, television and while leaving the cell phones ON for emergencies, we put them DOWN on the nightstand. This was part of our “plan” to reintroduce more conversation and um… more SEX back into our growing relationship. We tried this last week after I got home from work at 9 pm., so it REALLY was only about a couple of hours of technology withdrawal, but we did fine. Tonight will be several more hours than that and I have YET to finish this blog and get to Level 34 in my “Garden of Time” game on Face Book before Daryl comes in the door!

I’ve given up cigarettes, cursing and sugar much fucking easier than this.

We have other “nights” too that we agreed are most likely necessary to increase communication and foster good will toward each other on a daily basis. For instance, last evening we had our first official “budget meeting.” We actually sat down at the dining table with cocktails in hand and discussed our budget. Lord knows we like to spend money like the political parties that we represent, but we want to find ways to do a little less spending and a lot more saving. You know… like the government. We want to find that proverbial debt ceiling. We ain’t getting’ any younger and the “R” word (retirement) really needs to take a front seat in this relationship. We even went out one night a few weeks ago as part of the process to get a “budget book” to record our daily expenditures so we could get a “snapshot” of our woefully wallet-less ways.

Now mind you, we have only been at this for a week, but I am already having misgivings about our spending habits. Maybe I should say MY spending habits. I do most of the grocery shopping as some of my earliest blogs have indicated… but how can two men require close to $300 of groceries in less than a week? We cut out sugar for Christ’s sake! We’re not eating fast food at all anymore! I shop for fresh fruits and vegetables, fresh fish and chicken, organic yogurts and snacks fill the cupboards now. We’re losing weight, but at the same time, we’re losing our cash!

Sure, I could do that “X-treme” couponing that I hear about. They even have a TV show about it I think. Some woman makes it her JOB to find out how to get two free rolls of paper towels and a dozen eggs with her grocery order. I just CAN’T bring myself to get THAT involved with coupon shopping. Daryl suggested that perhaps we eat more leftovers. I already DO that and I swore at the onset of this relationship that I’d never eat the same thing two days in a row damn it! How much more do I have to sacrifice? How much more can we take?

No wonder the government can’t get their (read: OUR) act together with this budget thing. Maybe they too should learn to eat leftovers. I’ve decided that the only ceiling I want to be aware of from now on is the one I see when I lay down on my bed to have sex during our “no tech” night.

I better go baste that chicken and mix up the cocktails before the keyboard is ripped from my clawing fingersssssss…

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let THAT summer begin!

Summer officially begins this weekend.

I will be inside working several hours a day for the Memorial Day weekend sales, I (at times) will be thinking wistfully of childhood summers past. I had no Face Book, Twitter, texting or blogging inundating my young world. The only things my thumbs were doing back then were catching baseballs, butterflies and bubbles while pulling wads of pink gum in and out of my mouth.

I was about nine years old when my family lived in a tiny twin home several miles outside of West Chester in the small village of Marshallton, PA. My mother didn’t drive and my father worked several shifts for many hours with the Philadelphia Electric Company. My brother, John, and I were fairly isolated out in the country. Not that we minded. We always found something to keep us occupied and would spend many a full day playing outside and not watching television.

In contrast, my cousins, the Rulon family, lived in West Chester and happened to be members of the Bernard F. Schlegel Swim Club American Legion Post 134 on the outskirts of town on North New Street. In past summers, I went with them on occasion as a “guest” with the many passes they’d get for the season. One warm summer day, my Mom’s sister, Mary, surprised us by showing up at our house unannounced, driving my Uncle’s forest green Chevy pickup truck, bearing a sign in two lines of script paint: “Rulon’s Amusements – Jukeboxes, Pool Tables and Pinball Machines – sold and serviced.” She was honking the horn as she pulled in our driveway while my cousins including Steve, Randy, Billy, Jean and Danny were shouting and waving from the truck bed in the back proclaiming that we were going swimming! My brother and I quickly grabbed our bathing suits and towels as our mom, pregnant with our brother Rich, hurriedly packed a small blue and mint green plaid beach bag with snacks and extra towels. Holding onto matching flip flops from Woolworth’s, my brother and I climbed over the metal tailgate and into the back of the truck bed to a carpet of cousins.

My summer had officially begun!

We didn’t use seatbelts, hell we didn’t even have seat belts. It probably wasn’t safe in the back of the truck and it certainly wasn’t law, but we were FREE! As we began our adventure over country roads, we were seven young kids thrown into the back of a truck drinking cans of cooler-chilled grape and orange sodas while chewing and popping Bazooka Bubble gum. Mom and Aunt Mary and the smaller tots Nina and Timmy were sandwiched snuggly in the cab as we older kids hooted loudly while we were tossed about in the back of the truck like drunken sailors on a stormy sea. The warm summer sun would scuffle with the cool shade of the dark green trees to touch our skin, blinking over us as we wound our way around deeply curved bends and over stone-laden bridges. Our thin light hair was blown about our scrubbed freckled faces in the wind and into our sparkling eyes.

We found ourselves “surfing” in the truck’s bed by holding on to two tension straps and a few thick ropes that my Uncle had in the truck which he used in his business to secure pinball machines and pool tables while delivering them to customers. We tied them to a brace at the cab of the truck and as we rounded curves or hit bumps in the road we’d roll and giggle hysterically as we’d fall to the floor of the bed while the other kids would try to break the fall.

I absorbed the scent of the cool dark forests we traveled through as our journey to the pool continued. The dank smell of decomposing leaves from summers before and the fragrance of new pollen and honeysuckle mixing to create a world of shaded serenity. Occasionally, a small bug would hit me in the face but never bothered me as our trek continued through the back roads of the country. We made up songs to pass the time as we played Punch Buggy and counted out of state license plates (with limited success on country roads).

As we finally entered the winding driveway onto the thickly wooded acreage of the VFW, the combination of charcoal briquettes, hot dogs and the chlorine from the crystal blue pool wafted from the base of the hill. The “boing” sound of divers pushing from the diving boards, kids squealing and radios playing indicated our ride was almost over. We leapt out of the truck before it barely stopped and skipped in bare feet over grass and stone to the locker rooms to change.

The cement floor of the locker room was cold on the bottoms of my feet as I stripped into my bathing suit on a bench in the dampness. The echo of voices chatting in the showers and slamming metal lockers barely kept my interest as I rushed outside to the blinding sunshine and burning concrete. Realizing I forgot my flip flops in the locker room, I went back into the dimness and found them on the floor. I returned poolside to where my aunt and mother were already setting up camp under the shade of the many tall oak trees. I watched briefly as some of my cousins ran (then walked quickly as the lifeguard’s whistle chastised them) to jump into the pool. I could smell the barbeque beginning at the VFW at top of the hill and I watched as small wisps of white smoke from the grills drifted lazily like the echoes of ghosts through the trees above.

My stomach grumbled softly indicating that I was slightly hungry since I had only a small bowl of Captain Crunch cereal for breakfast while watching Gene London earlier in the morning, but I could wait for our lunch by the mansion on the hill in the afternoon. Apparently, the VFW was having what they called a “clam bake” later in the day and we were all invited! I glanced once more at the light bustling of activity on the hill before I spun around and leapt into the clear cold water creating hardly a splash with my slight boyish frame. I felt my heart race and my eyes sting from the chlorine as the noise outside became muffled in this underwater world of human legs. The pool hadn’t quite warmed up to the bath-like temperatures of late July and August as I immediately pushed to the surface and turned around to see my mother setting up her aluminum woven lawn chair and placing it securely in the grass.

My cousins, brother and I spent hours splashing, playing Marco Polo and dunking each other throughout the early afternoons blazing sun. Halfway through the day our moms provided tee shirts (our version of sunscreen) to put on so we wouldn’t get too much sunburn. The pool became very crowded during the day as the older teens began a game of volleyball in the deeper end. I watched while seated on a damp towel next to my mother as the ball was hit out of the pool in my direction. I squinted in the sun as I stood up and ran to get the ball and threw it into the “pool of popularity” with a splash. No one said thank you as I sat back down on the towel and tuned out the screaming teens.

I stretched my skinny arms to the sky and lay down on the towel while listening to the birds in the tree branches above me. The clattering noise around me turned into a dull drone as I sighed then drifted off to sleep while watching another wisp of smoke from the hill above drift lightly toward the sky.

My brother ended my brief slumber as he came out of the pool to dry off and shook his head over me like a dog shakes his body to dry off. “Creep!” I yelled as I sat up and tried to smack him in the knee and missed. He laughed as he dug deep into the beach bag for a box of pretzels as someone’s radio played the “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees in the distance. Two of my cousins were playing the card game “Go Fish” on a towel by the chairs as Aunt Mary suggested we pack up and head up to the hill for something to eat.

We needed no further instruction as we grabbed what we could and headed quickly across the sidewalk of the pool passed the baby pool and exited through the locker room leaving Mom and Aunt Mary tagging behind. Dumping the folding chairs and towels in the back of the truck, we continued through the gravel parking lot on our march to the hill.

I love the big house on the hill known as the VFW. As a nine year old, I have no idea what VFW even means, nor do I care. The large windowed mansion of massive stone sits like a fortress with a deep set slate covered porch around the entire place and it has a portico. I didn’t know what a portico was either until I asked my Grandmother last year when we were here and she explained it to me. The mansion is surrounded by stoic oak trees that tower over it like multi-armed soldiers, guarding the palace from the summer’s heat and humidity. Three stories of stately stone and mortar supported with thick white pillars and garnished with matching painted multi-pained windows that surely must have been a grand home to a family at one time long ago. I sometimes imagine it haunted with the specter of a long lost widowed bride standing breathless on the heavy stone steps, holding onto a pillar during a violent thunderstorm while staring into the lightning filled valleys in search of her lost captain of war as her gown blows frantically in the wind.

I snapped back into reality as I watched the older boys racing to the top of the hill, quickly getting lost in the small crowds of men and women seated around smoking grills eating corn cobs and clams while sucking down cool mugs of beer. Loud guffaws of laughter boomed from the broad porch as someone must have shared a joke.

This was THE clambake.

The food smelled incredible and my stomach began to give away my plight. As I crested the hill and came upon the grounds of the house, I was all at once enveloped into a party like atmosphere of sights and sounds that truly overloaded the mind of this nine year old. Torches of fire were stuck in the ground as decoration as the smell of burgers and fish drifted from the iron slated brick enclosed grills. My mouth began to salivate as I watched my cousin Steve grab a couple of plates and hand them to the group of us as we waited in a short line to get food. I watched as flames lapped from the depths of the grill, licking the smoking food that was about to be devoured.

Music was playing from the jukebox which had been wheeled out on to the porch from inside the home where the VFW “bar” was located. As I munched a sweet ear of corn, I watched as men smoking cigars wondered in and out of the bar area. I observed as they joked with each other or compared the scores of the latest ball game.

Mom and Aunt Mary, both with slightly sunburned Irish faces, clutching plates sat down with the rest of us as we finished off the better part of our early dinner. I could see the sun drifting further toward the horizon as I yawned. Aunt Mary tossed her red hair in the breeze as she sipped a beer and laughed at something my Mom was explaining to her.

Jean, Dan, John and I got up and headed to the larger area of the porch to watch the adults dance to the records playing from the jukebox. We watched as “Wild Thing” by the Troggs enraptured the hips, feet and waists of the older folks. I would snicker as Jean and I attempted to emulate the steps they were doing. Our Moms came up and danced with us in circles as we laughed and stomped our way into dusk.

Finally, Aunt Mary said it was time to “hit the road” as the coals in the grills began to fall apart and the men on the porch began to fall down. We were full and tired as a woman that knew Mom had given her a box of popsicles from the freezer in the VFW and we headed toward the truck.

Our faces were freckled and sunburned as we sucked melting Twin Pops from rounded wooden sticks and our fingers. We shared the color of our tongues to each other as we rode home in the sultry summer air on this first day of summer. I slept well that night.

Happy Memorial Day to all of you! Enjoy your time spent with family and friends. Peace.

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