Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

I don’t want to be one of those boring people who complain about the weather, but I seriously cannot deal with this heat. Our beautiful new home is without A/C and I haven’t slept in two days. The sprinkler, an endless supply of frosty beverages, hundreds of cold showers and antics involving ice cubes offer only the briefest respite. Our neighbors think we’re nudists.

Productivity has ground to a halt, but I’ve finished the first draft of my book. My first book, written under a pseudonym, waiting to be edited, then shared with a select few readers for very important feedback. My book. The first of many, I hope. Once I’ve really found my writer’s voice, I’ll write in my own name. Fiction perhaps.

The children and the other grown ups in our house have melted into the sofa and are sipping homemade lemonade as they watch Night At The Museum for the second time. I’m looking at their sweaty hair pasted to their flushed faces, and I’m thinking about filling the tub with cold water. They don’t seem to care about the heat like we do.

Summer was magical when I was a kid. We were allowed to play outside until the sun went down, unsupervised by adults when we were a little older, with a huge community of kids to amuse and entertain us. Epic games of Capture the Flag were played out in the communal green space and playgrounds that backed our townhouses. The world was all ours so long as we never tried to cross the street by ourselves.

My mom or dad would walk us to the corner store where we’d stock up on Freezies, or Popsicles, or Drumsticks and we always bought enough to share with the other kids. While we tore around the neighbourhood, the grown ups would sit in the garage, with the door thrown open to create shade, sipping frosty beverages. Everyone knew everybody, and everybody’s kids.

The neighbourhood children were a motley crew. Predominately boys, there were outspoken teenagers who were aggressive and surly. They had a secret stash of Penthouse magazines which they took great delight in, and were generous enough to share. There were two brothers who lived across the lane – Marc, who was handsome and soft-spoken and eight years old to my seven, and Brock, his younger brother. We called him Broccoli, and he always had a Koolaid moustache and wore rain boots, no matter the weather, always on the wrong feet. He was outspoken, and as far as I could tell, was my father’s favourite kid because of his inherent ridiculousness.

I remember a few of the girls I played with through the years. Stephanie was my very best friend, but she moved away when I was seven, or eight. Lucy was an Indian girl who used to pee her pants when she was nervous, but refused to go home and change. I was her friend because nobody else would be, until I realized she was killing my own image, and then I shunned her. I’m still ashamed of that. Sharlene was an only child. She was totally spoiled and had the very best toys. Her mother was very fat, but always well dressed and heavily made up. She wore nice perfume, but when she smiled, she never smiled with her eyes. Her father was very tall and skinny, with an afro. He looked like a q-tip. I think her mom used to beat up her dad, and I know that they weren’t very nice to each other. As a result, Sharlene was an incredibly nasty little girl who used to let me play with her favourite dolls in exchange for being able to pinch me as hard as she could.

Madora was a very beautiful, very tall girl who had a German mom and an Indian dad who wasn’t on the scene. She taught me about Duran Duran, Billy Idol, and French Kissing. Her brother Oliver is the reason I love brown men. He both terrified and excited me. He was much older than us. Sometimes he’d walk around in his underwear. I liked Madora’s house the best.

One of the kids I remember most vividly is a kid whose name I can’t remember. He was very fat, and his parents were also obese. They had a film projector, and a movie theatre popcorn machine. His dad would get his hands on the greatest movies, and invite all of the neighbourhood kids over to watch. I saw Snow White for the first time in their living room. I think that’s the only time the other kids ever really spoke to him.

Now, I can’t imagine our kids playing without us right there until they are about eleven. The world has changed so much in such a short time. My own neighbourhood has a hard edge that I don’t remember from when I was a kid, and there are hardly any children there anymore. It was such a safe haven when we were little, and we all watched out for each other.

Epic waterfights that lasted an entire day, neighbourhood cook outs with five  six barbecues, fireworks stockpiled by every household and displayed for all to enjoy, hide and seek, slumber parties, and staying over for supper were all highlights for me. I wonder what my own children will hold dear when they think back on this languid, steamy days.

Next week A/C, better sleeps, and deeper dreams. Thank goodness for the wading pool at the park down the street.

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