by Lillian Csernica on March 9, 2014
My next door neighbors on the left have two new cats. Their previous cats, an ancient pair of Siamese named Bonnie and Clyde, went to kitty heaven a few months ago. John was all excited to have me see the new cats, so today he and I paid a visit to Helen and Michael, where we met two black and white littermates about eight months old. One is a short hair, and the other is fluffy. Their names…. Sigh. You have to wonder sometimes what people are thinking. The short hair is Micky Marie and her fluffy sister is Minnie Mouser. I would have thought, given that these people were cool enough to name a brother and sister Siamese Bonnie and Clyde, they would have come up with something less (dare I say it?) goofy.
Oh well. Nice cats, nice people, gorgeous day. We all wound up out on the back patio where Michael keeps a pool table. John likes to shoot eight ball down at Neptune’s Kingdom on the Boardwalk. He’s not that good at it, only because he doesn’t practice enough. He did the family proud today, making Michael work for it. The game went on for a while due to missed shots here and there, but I was delighted to be right at tableside to watch John make some long shots and one or two side pockets that were tricky. Michael did win, so I played him. This brought back a flood of memories about my father, who taught me to shoot eight ball and even bought me my own cue stick in a carrying case. I made one good side pocket shot, and that was enough to make me happy for the day.
I mentioned beer, didn’t I? As you know, I don’t drink. It doesn’t mix well with my medication. One of the few advantages of my weight is my ability to have one or two drinks without feeling them much. Helen offered me a beer. My usual polite refusal was halfway out of my mouth when my brain shifted gears and told me I could afford one drink so I should accept my hostess’ hospitality. Besides, we were shooting pool. It’s just like having pizza. Beer is the perfect condiment, accessory, whatever. So Helen and I drank beer while we watched Michael and John shoot eight ball. Michael tends to talk his way through his shots, which was fine because it reminded me of so many things Daddy had taught me about the game. Michael also coached John through some of his more successful shots, so John was happy to have a fresh audience cheering him on. This was a rare pleasure for me, hanging out with my neighbors on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, my son playing with their animals and us grown-ups talking about a hundred different subjects. The conversation bounced around as much as the billiard balls did.
The time came for John and me to go back home. There before us lay the final stages of John’s Earth Science project, a tourist brochure that was meant to encourage people to visit the planet he’d been assigned, which was Mars. An 8.5 x 11 inch sheet of paper folded into thirds, divided up into particular sections according to the teacher’s handout. My sister and John’s two after school aides had been working on this with him for several days. Now it all came down to me and John. I read the directions, which included contradictions. I read them again, spotting the typos. I read over the rubric and prayed that what John had created would be colorful and informative enough. We downloaded images and printed out references and cut and pasted and John worked his artistic magic and I made sure all the source materials were documented. By the time we were done, I needed another beer. This tourist brochure had better bring home a good grade, or I’ll be answering to my sister and the aides.
John and I had a really good Sunday together. And that’s what matters the most.