If you are familiar with the old Gershwin opera Porgy and Bess then you will note that the conclusion of that line in the title is “is easy.” In fact, it goes on to proclaim that the “fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high.” I personally don’t understand how slimy fish jumping (presumably at me) and high cotton that needs to be picked off the plant, bloodying one’s fingers, is supposed to make my life easy. Nonetheless, as a teacher, I look forward to this day. This is the first weekday of my summer vacation and as such, it is the first true test of how well I shall be able to sleep in and enjoy that extra few minutes of bliss under my covers. Imagine my surprise, then, when my wife informed me late last week that “oh wait, their swimming lessons start on Monday. Sorry, forgot to tell you.” And do you know what this entailed of me? Well I’ll tell you…
In theory, this should be a piece of cake. Last summer’s “pool lessons” as my son called them required me to be semi-naked in the Olympic-sized pool of the local community college at 8AM sharp five days a week for two weeks. Believe me, that mental image you just got? It wasn’t much better in real life without much coffee. And I generally like how I look naked. This time, the lessons were to take place at the private home of a woman in the neighborhood. Don’t worry, she’s certified and it’s a legit business. Also, these lessons don’t start until 9:30. Granted, the two kids are in separate classes so he goes for the first half-hour and she for the second. That’s OK, though. Really, I think I’ve got this. I can still sleep in…
Yeah, right… Like that’s gonna’ happen. And in fact at 6:30 this morning I did something I don’t normally do. I sat up in bed before the alarm went off, wide awake. No, my kids hadn’t come into my room. No, there wasn’t a storm outside. I guess I just got too used to the school year routine. I thought of going back to sleep for just a second but then I thought better. I could get out of bed, make some coffee, go to mass, and still be home in time to get the kids dressed for the pool! This will be nice and, what’s that word? EASY! Sing it, Porgy. As I was slothfully rolling off my bed to make me way to the kitchen, my bedroom door swung open and my precious five year-old son
stepped bounded into the room. “Daddy! I’m going to be late for my pool lesson!” I shot him a deathstare. “No, son. No you’re not.” Oh well… I’ll get into the summer groove sooner of later. Just hope it happens before August rolls around and I need to be getting up earlier.
Actually, it’s good that I got up this early since today was my late father-in-law’s birthday. It was also my very living mother-in-law’s wedding anniversary. Yes, that narcissist Marigold got married on his birthday. So the good news is that the whole family got up and went to mass together to remember the man before the altar of God. After this, we went over to the “pool”. Here’s where it gets colorful. No, really, it got purple. At the private home where this lesson was to take place, there was, posted at the front door, a middle-aged man in shorts and a polo shirt with a lanyard around his neck holding a plastic sign that said “GATE MONITOR”. He looked at us and said “Ye-ahhhh… We’re actually next door today.” I looked at him and thought “You suck.” Turns out that the woman running the show had to rely on her next door neighbor for the first few days as her pool had suddenly turned purple. Good thing her neighbor had a pool, I suppose. I imagined that she had been conjuring up black magic using her pool as a cauldron as the cause of this purple haze. She really offered no explanation. OK, whatever… Son goes in first. Half-hour of pure joy with baby girl as she played inside the air conditioned minivan. Then we swapped and my son ran amok in the car for thirty minutes.
And now for the really fun part!
As evening rolled in we headed out to dinner. OK, our kitchen is still missing thanks to the remodel and it was Marigold’s birthday. We went to a place called… Should I mention it? Well, why not? The name is so generic that it could be anywhere. We ate at a place the old man used to enjoy back in his younger days called “Joe’s Coffee Shop”. The place was nice enough — the food was decent, the service was OK, and the prices were reasonable. However, when I entered this place with my kids I noticed that we were entering a “quiet zone”. Seriously, this place was like the dining hall of an assisted living complex. There were people in every booth, all of them over the age of 70, and all of them dining in silence. I felt like I had walked into the refectory of a Trappist monastery. I tried my best to keep the kids piped down but it wasn’t working. “Daddy! He took my crayons!!!” “Sweetheart, shhhh… you’ve got the same crayons.” “Daddy! She kicked me!!!” “Quiet, son, kick her back, I mean, just be quiet. Daddy will deal with her. They’re gonna’ kick us out!” I thought for a moment that maybe the patrons were all deaf and that’s why they were being so hushed. Then I realized that didn’t make any sense or they wouldn’t be leering at us. Well, I was only partly right. There was an honest-to-goodness deaf couple dining in the booth across from us. The breaking point for me — that moment when I decided to tacitly turn my kids and all their aural glory loose on this crowd of biddies — came when the deaf couple started making fun of us! I don’t know American Sign Language but I can pick some things up. Let’s just say that I think they were able to decipher my hand gestures before they paid their bill. Ay… what a day. And this is just the beginning! Yes, the livin’ is anything but easy but it’s always plenty of fun!