There was an empty lot next to our house we called the Uranium Mine where I cut the grass a couple times a week over the summer. I enjoyed the work. I sang out loud while pushing the mower. I took pride in the neat straight lines I cut.
One day he told me to mow in a circle starting in the middle. He was an ex-Marine with a strong personality. He expected to be obeyed. People found it difficult to say no to him.
I hated mowing in a circle. It stopped being fun. No straight lines. No singing. So, I mowed it my way. I accepted his yelling and ultimately my t-shirt wrapped around his fist. I still did it my way. The mowing incident became a source of friction between us until the day he died.
They partied well into nightfall at their last party of the summer.
There was more boisterous laughter than usual. They stood in a circle looking like a bunch of school kids on the playground teasing each other. They knew each other pretty well by the end of the summer. The men were getting frisky touching women who weren’t their wives while everyone laughed.
The women slapped their hands like it bothered them but it was obvious they liked the attention.
No one laid a hand on my mom. Her body language suggested, stay away or you’ll be sorry. She was content to sip her manhattans smile or laugh at their antics.
As darkness descended they all stumbled off in different directions giggling and guffawing while she was content to sit and sip her umpteenth manhattan in the impending darkness.
One by one or two by two everyone straggled back. A couple of the guys stumbled back, arms around each other calling each other names then laughing loudly. The girls made fun of them with high pitched laughter.
My dad mosied in looking happy as a clam five minutes after June showed up by herself.
“Where were you June,’’ a couple of the women asked with that “sing songey” sound to their voices. It got so quiet you could hear a croquet ball drop onto the grass.