Okay, okay. Enough vacation time taken. Not writing always saps me in the way that laying in a hammock prevents grass from being mown.
Or maybe itís just the topic of the moment. Because Iíve wanted to sort it out in words for the longest time but have effectively blocked my brain from doing so, and itís a reasonless thing. I donít often go public with things that tend to bother or annoy or make waves in the little ocean called Outfoxed.
A couple of months ago I was featuring my Eldest, the daughter called Beth, and her coming of age as a high school senior, and the end of her fastpitch softball life. Naturally enough she has now graduated from school, and with honors, and cheers and much ballyhooing from all in her life.
She has a part time job which defies any amount of explanation about what hard work is Ė she drives a golf cart for Godís sake. She pick up golfers from their car and takes both golfer and clubs on a perilous, 100 yard journey to the clubhouse, lets them out, takes a tip and returns to her starting point. They pay her to do this. She gets tips. She makes more money in a day than most part time kids do in a week.
When she was in her last couple of months of school she was dating a guy and it looked for all the world like a serious thing. A big man on campus, but a very likable one. A baseball prodigy, a pitcher with pro prospects. And since the day of graduation I havenít seen so much as a hint of him. Considering the amount of time they spent together it seemed rather curious.
I mean, he took her to the graduation night festivities. And they stayed out until 4 am. And they kissed very pleasantly in the driveway when he brought her home.
I know Ďcause I peeked. Shouldnít be legal to have a Dad who gets up at 4 am. But there you go.
We were tooling around in her car for some reason or another one afternoon in June, and she had one of those abrupt 18 year old comments. ďHey Dad, remember Lids? The big catcher for our team when I was a freshman? I need to go pick her up. Like right now. Is that okay?Ē
Oh indeedy, I remembered Lids (these pseudonyms can get a bit heavy handed sometimes, but I really do call her Lids. Which is not, of course, her Christian name. But itís close enough). I remember a grown woman in high school softball clothing, belting home runs with impunity and towering over male umpires and generally just being a specimen of athleticism. Even while managing to be cute at the same time, which is difficult at best to pull off.
Lids went off to a far away college (full scholarship, by the way. I wasnít the only one who thought she was an athlete) and zipped through it and now was back in town. So it was fairly natural that Beth would want to see her. To hang out.
And we got to the house of Lids and she hopped into the back seat and was fairly delighted to see that I remembered her. ďLids, for corns sake how the hell are ye?Ē She was tanned and fit and the backseat didnít look nearly large enough to comfortably accommodate the largeness that is Lids. Iím not talking about a fat person here, just someone who is wide of shoulder and has the arms of a lumberjack. Tall. That kind of big.
The days of summer with three teens set free from the orthodoxy that is high school was in full bloom. There was late rising and part time jobs and sound of Ben churning around the yard with my Weedeater. There was Beth and Lids darting hither and yon on late night missions to gather the old team, to talk and screech and probably down the odd beer or two.
It was probably one of those early summer mornings, with me pouring my last cup of coffee before leaving for the day. When Lids suddenly appeared in the kitchen, smiling. ďGot a cup for me?Ē
And it hit me, slow that I am. Sheíd spent the night again. What was it, the third night in a row or something?
She was in love. So was Beth.
It isnít something that Iíd say surprised me. Not in that shocking way that some people would be jolted (my parents, for example, come quick to mind) into the realization that their child just might be different. Beth had prepared me well for the moment.
She came to Ally and me when she was, oh. . .say seventeen. She was tearful, and scared, and so afraid of what saying things about her life and the secrets that laid therein might mean to the two people who had brought her into the world. But she did say it. My lass has a bit of the old guts in her, she does.
ďIím not like other people. I think I like girls and guys. I date a guy, I date a girl, itís all the same to me.Ē
Now you know Iím of the old school. I was around back in the day when ďcoming outĒ was first celebrated as a concept of a lifestyle change, when the first gays and lesbians and biís to do so made it an event. A San Francisco sort of thing. The old school rolled their collective eyeballs and hooted and jeered, and Iíll be the first to tell you that I hooted right along with them. Fag jokes? Got a million of Ďem. One of the Crew who has worked for me in the past has a saying that never fails to crack me up. A fat man, a Trollish looking lad, he is oft to remind his mates over a frosty libation that as a fifty year old single guy, he is merely ďA lesbian trapped in a mans body and looking for a way out.Ē
So looking at Beth in the old school way, and darting a glance at Ally, I kinda picked my way around the issue. Let it simmer in my head for a while. The signs had been there. Beth doesnít date boys much at all. She is heavily into athletics. She is smart and outgoing but has only a couple of friends who I would call confidants.
I didnít know. What to say to a daughter who is having this conversation with you at the age of 17. Do you have her pack bags and ass and boot them both generally in the direction of the front door, with much drama and histrionics? Add to the collection of frustrated people who have parents of outrage, who spurn children for a version of ethics or morality known best only to themselves?
There was the question, and I remember Ally looking at me with at least as much fear as Beth had. There was a shoe to drop, and I was rubbing my eyes with one tired hand, trying very hard not to drop it so as to break. Or to hurt. It was the parent moment. Where you learn what your father learned, and you learned why there are such things as kids in your life and why it takes a lifetime to figure the whole universe out.
I just let the moment hang there for a while. Maybe a week or so.
But I did tell Beth that I loved her. It seemed like the thing to do.
I wouldnít have guessed it would lead to a Summer with Lids. I couldnít have guessed that it might. You spend the long hours of your day dreaming up scenarios that could happen, and when the real thing comes along it isnít anything at all like you imagined. I didnít win the Lottery, didnít get the dream contract on a house, didnít see Beth win her final game with a dramatic home run in the last inning.
I got a Summer with Lids. And her asking for a cup of coffee in the early hours of a day.
I poured. Sugar, no milk, thank you.
Continued another day
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