|Seal Beach, 2014|
I barrelled down the 405 yesterday, heading south to Seal Beach for a day of lacrosse watching. The sky was so blue and so clear you could see the snow on the tops of distant mountains to the east, and the edge of the Pacific dropping off the globe to the west. I had three boys in my car on a Saturday morning -- Henry and two other players -- but no one was talking. I heard a grunt every now and then, though, and turned up the radio. When the phone rang, we all startled, and when Oliver's clear, still-high voice came over the Bluetooth, we winced at its brightness.
Where's the lemon costume?
Um. In the costume drawer?
No, it's not there.
In your closet?
No! It's not there! Where is it?
Well, I have no idea where it is, I said. You'll have to do your lemonade stand without it.
Great, he replied, and hung up.
Bruce Springsteen came on the radio for about two seconds before the phone rang again. This time it was The Husband.
Where's the lemon costume?
I have no idea, I said.
The Husband and The Big O are frightfully similar in temperament, and I imagined a flurry of feathers, chest-beating, sticks being thrown, the sky perhaps falling.
What the he ---
The phone went quiet and Bruce came back on. I thought about glue for a bit, how I am The Glue, and then I thought about Bruce Springsteen, his arms, and how he plays his guitar, that thing he does, and then I thought about surfers, how watching them makes me warm.
The night before I barrelled down the 405 and took a walk from the field to the ocean, climbed over a rise of sand into blue and then walked back and watched three hours of lacrosse, I had come home from a delightful dinner with three dear friends, my head buzzing just the tiniest bit from one very dirty martini and a bowl full of pasta, to a boy fight. Is there anything more aggravating or tedious than brothers bickering? Men fighting? I don't want this to be a lament against the male species, so let's make everyone an animal and do some anthropomorphizing. The small and stout chicken is incredibly industrious but also likes to peck. He pecks and he pecks and he pecks. He pecks on the ape and he pecks on the cheetah. The ape can't stand the pecking, would rather sit and chew on a blade of grass for the duration. He reaches his big, meaty paw out and swipes the chicken, and the chicken squawks far louder than is warranted and begins to peck and peck on the cheetah who is indolent for the most part and good-natured but at a certain number of pecks, he reaches his huge, lazy paw up and makes the chicken fly. There's a burst of feathers and chicken tears because the cheetah is so terribly advantaged and just so damn gorgeous but a mystery, a deep, primitive mystery. There's a wild animal keeper who happens to walk in, she radiates light, the animals are afraid of her, and they love her, too, neither animal nor human, perhaps a goddess, or maybe just glue, and she plucks a feather from her hair where it has landed after flying off the chicken who pecked on the ape and then on the cheetah. She twirls that feather in her hand and catches the cheetah's eye before he takes off with a lacrosse stick held high, and the ape? The ape with his heart of darkness chews his grass, unfathomable.