Mom & Dad at Halloween one year
They did have fun. It usually involved other adults. Friends, male friends of my father’s, or if it was women, their wives. Mostly the women were a certain one or two of my mother’s five sisters.
Drinking was always involved, music on the turntable – the turntable was part of the large piece of furniture-besides a couch and an overstuffed arm chair – Dad’s of course – in the room. It had a television in it and fancy things on top that always seemed to need dusting.
The fun was often – at least that’s what it seemed to a kid – in our parlor. An apartment with one bathroom, a kitchen with a table for six, three bedrooms and a parlor was it. If the numbers of adults was big enough, the women hung out in the kitchen, and the men in the parlor with the women obeying orders to keep the beers and chips coming.
The children were shooed out of doors in good weather and during the day, off to the kitchen or bedrooms, or even to bed otherwise. Why did they think we couldn’t hear them? Some of our beds weren’t more than a dozen or so feet away through a strange fabric accordion door. Maybe they knew that enough of their talk wasn’t understandable by us. Most of the time, they were probably right, and so too, they knew we wouldn’t even pay attention. I didn’t – except for the laughter.
These were the times they laughed the loudest. The small toddler and young children’s antics would sometimes evoke laugh, but I knew it was different from the belly guffawing, slapping each other’s arms and doing jigs laughter. There were times that the laughter frightened me more than made me smile. The laughter I liked was when I could scoot out there and ask, “What’s so funny?” Depending on their moods, I might get a “Get back to bed!” Or someone would explain. I didn’t always get it, but it was information I would more or less figure out and add to my store of knowledge about life.
This night, though, they actually giggled as they got dressed to go to the Halloween party at the veteran’s club. Dad was sure the wig would completely tell anyone who was unsure that he was Tiny Tim. Mom, being Mom, took care with her outfit to be Tiny Tim’s girlfriend – the one he married on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. She knew love beads and jewelry would set her apart. Mom loved a good party, Dad enjoyed the company of people – don’t think he cared one way or other what the gathering was called. He made no bones about the idea that working hard put you in the right way to play hard.
I always wanted to know them as teenagers before five children made them work harder than they wanted to.
Today, the remembrance of the laughter of two people who had hard lives, the sunshine and warmer temperature outdoors after a really harsh winter, and a temporary disappointment of a canceled fun event remind me – remind my heart, my mind and my soul that these are the sweets of life.
Dad was right – you can’t have it all, but when you’ve got it, enjoy it like hell, because it’ll be a while before you get it again!