"What'd he say?"
"He asked me to tackle him." Dad answers.
"I'll tackle him." he offers with an unmistakable glint in his eye.
Cory quickly distracts him and a breath later the three of them are tackling each other. Yesterday when I said goodbye to him he tells me I will never see him again. That he is starting school. I tell him I will see him again. This afternoon when he bundles over to us I give him the I-told-you-so and he gives me his story about preparing to move to India for 6 years. His ma always sits far away so I haven't had a chance to chinwag with her but our family has adopted him as our playground mascot. I did not try to hide my enthusiasm for playing with the ten or so kids who gravitated towards us tonight. Lucas with his wooden bat, Sam with his glove were like pied piper to the tykes scurrying about the sands. I was nine again. Same height. Just as bossy. Only this time I could actually catch the ball. By the time we left Sam was barely standing we managed a swift inhalation of pizza and pasta at the local, surprisingly mom and pop Italian joint, before sleep conquered.
Not surprising really, the last few days have been strewn with parties and visits. The one which tops is a last minute invite to a Bat Mitzvah. Our cousins were in town for the big event and at the last minute space opened up and the mum and dad of the young girl, having seen the show with a quick backstage tour from Cory and a hello to the sleeping Sam under the dressing table, were happy to have us come along. Our cousins explain that it is being held at CBS studios. As supremely rational folk we obviously came to the logical conclusion that with it being our joint fourth visit to the place, we were clearly destined to work there some day. Down we walked, past the offices where we had had meetings over the past few weeks, onto Gilligan's Island Ave onwards with studios 2 and 3 to our right and just beyond, the beginning of a red carpet and the set of a New York street, as used in one of our favourite shows Seinfeld. Along the "street" were tables, laid in black and fuchsia with empty film reels adorning the centre and a white dance floor laid half way down. People and much food milling around. The perfect beginning of the cool summer air. We thank the hosts for including us in the party and offer congratulations to the young Hannah, beaming from ear to ear balancing precariously on her high heels. After meeting several welcoming family members we are all called to the dance floor. Under the midnight blue, barely night sky, we are then herded through a number of dances where our MC for the night governs over the crowd and the uber happy hired partiers who have been directed to direct us all into the boogie. Sam, all fedora and eager red converse boots is boggle eyed at the proceedings and takes every bit of direction to heart especially when we get to the horah and ladies are bounced on top of chairs. Call me sentimental but there was definitely a part of me that started to imagine my great grandma in the same position jumping about. How proud would she be of me now?
After our houre d'oeuvres of cardio we move on to abundance of food feasting on salads, veggies, fresh roasted beef and a taster from the pasta bar where an almost happy chef sauteed your choice of ingredients to order. Sam liked their hats. Almost more than their pesto. Dips into the chocolate fountain followed and soon after the dancing started. In Earnest. Sam kept telling me he was going throughout the dinner, we had all we could to convince him to finish enough to get him through the night. Eventually he takes off at a sprint toward the dance floor. Fedora firmly in place. He calls back for me, but when I join him I find our boy already ensconced in some serious interpretive dancing. Wind up toy meets 80s club with a bit of soft shoe thrown in. Dad bounds along soon after giving it some. He didn't work the Samantha Fox videos for nothing. Our cousins jump about with infectious abandon and we zoop bop turn twirl jiggle and jump for the next couple of hours. Interspersed are regular visits from the "partiers" who gradually don us with every which thing of neon and l.e.d derivation most of which we pass onto Sam so that by the end of the night he looks like a christmas tree at a club. Between the glowy wotsits about his hat, the flashing rubber rings on his fingers, the rubber studded (flashing) bracelets he is a whirling dervish of plastic. The next day he relays to our friends how it was so great to be able to see in the dark, what with all the lights and everything. What we saw as decoration he interpreted as practicalities. He carried it well, I must say, though I perceived a remarkable difference between the verve with which he pulsed to Billy Jean and the significantly more reserved interpretations of Ms Gaga. Thriller appeared to throw him over his personal edge, what with the whole dance floor moving in unison like zombies. It wasn't me. The MC told us to do it. So we all did. Miss.
I took the cue and picked the fella up, he all l.e.d, flashed his way into a sleep oblivion at the back of the dance floor drooling over my shoulder. I stayed swaying about just long enough to catch Papi (90 in April) doing a jig with his grandchildren. Neon glowy necklace about him. Smiling from here to eternity. He tells Sammy he wished he knew how much he loved him. And when are we going to make another? And wouldn't I look good pregnant? And what a good fella Cory is. All this brings a smile to my face. Then I want to cry a little. Being around several generations of family makes me come over all weepy for my own. Especially my aunt, now floating somewhere in my peripheral at all times but still so sorely missed it hurts. I flood the collar of my dress a little. When we sit to watch Hannah's bat mitzvah slideshow compiled by her dad it is soaked. Cory jokes me out of my tears. My cousins give me a squeeze. Then we dance more. Obviously.
The next morning we took our ramshackle party selves to another friend for a waffle sunday party, which, basically involves a lot of delicious waffles and children running happy. It took some effort to leave what with the Sam man so happy and all, and what with our friend's sofa being so inviting and all but away we left with a quick pit stop into a grocery store and onto an old mate of Cory's from New York days. At his pad were an unusual mix of characters including a northerner turned Californian head of entertainment for a cruise line company, his partner, all earthy New York dance and verve and their beautiful daughter. Also joining us is our host's lodger a beautiful young lady with wolf eyes, her three hounds and his date. Then there is the three of us and you have yourselves a party. The boys dive in the pool. I offer assistance to the ladies running about preparing foods. I think I manage to cut the cheese into two pretty triangles and lay out a packet of crackers before retiring to the pool side and eating most of it. Sundays are for lazy, this is the bottom line. It would seem from the past week I know only two speeds. Too fast or too too slow. And thats ok with me.
Now we have entered Cory's rehearsal period (blocking of the show changing somewhat to accommodate the cuts in set and so on), so our days are a mother and son affair. This ultimately involves much fortress building, paddling pool filling and general slow mo activities. When Cory asked me if I would like to join some of the old timers at a fabulous cafe up the road for dinner last night however, I obviously relinquished a cosy night in for an aperitif and dinner with some of our old troupe (3 of which are in the show the others who have stayed ona little while lonegr). It was like the first day back at school after the holidays. Everyone was talking at the same time and full of happy eyes and stories. Sam managed a cheese sandwich before conking out in my arms and spending the rest of the evening straddling a couple of chairs out to the world.
Much time is also spent at the playgrounds obviously. It is my favourite people watching time of the day, especially when you get to spy naked chest men walking down the street with a parrot on each arm, for example, or when you sit next to a chatty Israeli grandmother who spins tales of her Yemeni parents whilst knitting, occasionally stopping to yell like a banshee across to her ADHD grandson doing 50 mph on his scooter without a helmet. By the end of the evening he was one of the most gung ho players in the out field. And I was a demure catcher on account of being supremely overdressed. Again. I think I must be turning into one of them mums who always dresses like she has been to an audition. Then again, there's no better way for me to feel like a kid than to play dress up. Just ask my ma.
One of my closest friends back home sent me a parcel of goodies for my birthday which finished the evening off in perfection. It goes without saying that secretly I celebrate it for the entire month of August, prone to excess as I am. As I type I am nursing a very posh cuppa made in a pyramid silk tea bag thanks to her. I am also eyeing up her box of trendy british toffees and admiring the little tub of fig and rose lip balm. This is the friend that has almost been solely responsible for creating my home library and I always look forward to her buying me books. She always knows what I will like. I feel a twinge of nostalgia. Again. Hey ho. Bright side is, without being away you don't often get to receive parcels.
.....Or see parrots being walked down the street.