Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hairy Moles, Spittle, and Fat Ankles

I freaked a little kid out at the Boy Scout meeting last night. Oh, I've known this kid since he was a toddler look-alike to his big brother. I should have known that it didn't mean that he has known me that long. See, there is always a big group of adults and, more importantly, a bunch of kids around whenever this boy and I have been in the same place. I may never actually spoke to him before last night.

In my defense, his dad goes to Boy Scout meetings almost every Tuesday and he sometimes chats about his boy there. I used to be in charge of awards for the Cub Scout pack and I saw the kid's name over and over while I worked. I'm friends with his mom on Facebook, so I see pictures of him on vacations and birthdays. I even took a six week hunter's safety class with Nick and he and his dad were there too. I just happen to walk with his best friend's mom and I hear about him then. That best friend has even come along with Nick on a couple of outings and talked about him. All in all, I've heard a lot about this boy. And when he's at a Boy Scout event, I'm usually there, along with two or three dozen other adults and kids.

Last night, his mom had told him to straighten chairs after the meeting was over. I was standing there and saw him struggling to get one chair in the right position. I thought of how much fun Nick had with his best friend when we went to the renaissance faire with us last summer. I wanted to help this kid with his chairs, but I knew he needed to get it figured out himself.

"Hey Griffin, I can't wait until you and Jake are in the troop next year."

And there was dead silence. He didn't even look up at me, just moved in the opposite direction to straighten the next chair.

"It's going to be a lot of fun having you there," I went on, a little lamely. He still didn't say anything or even look up. I had blocked him in. There was no escape and there were no other chairs to straighten. He shuffled his feet, still silently looking down. As I moved out of his way, a picture popped into my mind.

I remember going to our annual family reunion in the social hall of some church I'd never visited. I was probably in grade school, maybe fourth grade. It smelled funny in there, like cabbage and dentures. I had had a good time because there were kids I didn't get to see all that often, second cousins. There were at least thirty or forty people at those reunions, but I only paid attention to the kids and my own grandparents. For the most part, I even ignored my parents and my brother and sister.

Then, out of nowhere, some ugly old lady would corner me. I usually knew that she was my grandma's sister or cousin. She might have had a hairy mole on her upper lip and fat wrinkles. A lot of those ladies did. I would have looked down as she tried to talk to me.

"I heard you got straight A's on your report card again this year. You keep up the good work, child," she might have said. How did she know that? I would have stared at her thick ankles where taupe-colored tights were starting to sag. I would have studied her sturdy black orthopedic shoes as she talked on an on about me, my teacher, and my grades. How did she know all this stuff?

"I also heard about that boy Tommy that you have a crush on," she might say. "You just be your sweet self and he'll come around." By then, I could never make myself look up. My face would have been bright pink and I'd be able to hear my heart in my ears. Plus, that hairy mole was coming closer. She might have grunted as she leaned over a little. And I would be able to smell her old lady breath.

"How about a kiss for your old Aunt Shirley, honey? Just a little kiss and a hug." And since I'd been taught to obey my elders, I would have let that hairy mole touch my cheek. I would have felt a little spittle that she left there when she straightened up. Then, she would have squeezed me into her large chest and I would have wondered if I were going to suffocate before she let me go. When she released me, I would have run outside to get back to the safety of the group of cousins playing freeze tag in the grass.

Crap! I have become the ugly-old-lady-hug stalker. May God forgive me.

Thank you for listening, jb

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