Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The past few Mondays have been busy scenes, though it defies explanation. I guess the weekends have been busy, so come Monday morning there's quite a mess to clean up. I've been running off to work the past few Mondays, or just running off, and leaving the family home to deal with it, coming home when the ALL CLEAR sounds. It doesn't really, though. Plenty of mess is left for me to take care of.

Last weekend's little party was the best ever, as Lileks' Gnat would say, if we had invited her. The friendliest BounceRoom Rental Guy in the world brought the blimp-sized thing a day early and picked it up a day late, vacuuming it when he dropped it off and vacuuming it when he picked it up. "It's a brand new one!" he exclaimed at the drop-off, so we put some wear and tear into it for him. We came home from church on Sunday and it was gone! Either abandoned and stolen altogether, or just picked up surreptitiously by the nice man, who absconded with the mass of vinyl without getting a tip, God bless him.

Also seen at the party: a made-by-mommy Mickey Mouse cake, a chocolate fountain, shamrocks, neighbors sucking down Irish beers by a full-flamed chiminea, and kids ripping water plants out of the pond in order to get at the little fish that are in there. It was awesome. Really, I don't mind the kids messing with the garden. I like kids more than plants, and so much so that I didn't plant anything before the party. (Learned that mistake at last year's party.) It was a full house, with attendance over sixty heads even though no one from my side of the family (which is another twenty or so) showed. After everyone left, a dedicated few of us opened the good tawny port and reclined around the chiminea, chatting of things past/things to come. Always my favorite part.

Extraordinary thanks to all those who pitched in early and helped out setting up the fountain and party fixin's. At midnight the night before, I was stuffing Mickey stickers and Jolly Ranchers into little plastic bags and wondering if we'd ever get around to all the other tasks, but folks always arrive and offer to help. It's the miracle of the suburbs, like the loaves and fishes. You think there's not enough time to do it all, and there's not, but you have to alter your thinking -you don't need more time, you need more hands. It's a party. The hands are on their way.

I love the suburbs. I love the cul-de-sac. I love all the little kids on the street who know each other. I love how everyone's yard is different. I love all the trick-or-treaters. I love everyone's Christmas lights. I love the garage sales that turn into margarita-laden block parties. On Sunday afternoon a couple of kids came by saying that they had opened a restaurant: "Molly's Bistro" and they were serving dinner at five. Mrs. Ditchman stopped in after she picked up the mail and found some of the other neighbors over there, eating spaghetti served by little kids. All summer long we've got lemonade stands and Girl Scout cookies, rumors and news at the mailbox, barbecues and gripes against the city. We all borrow each others' tools and we all look out for each other. We know every car on the street. And if you fall out of step with this or that, it doesn't go unnoticed, keeping you honorable.

It's almost all little girls on our street, since the neighbor with the two little boys moved out to Temecula. We neglected to invite them to the party, and we regret it. The family next door to me just remodeled their home, nearly doubling it in size. And the old guy across the street passed on to the Great Suburb of Existence, recently. He was a vet. The little flag from his grave is still on his lawn, which he kept immaculate, always mowed in a thoughtfully articulated herringbone pattern.

The suburbs evolve, you see, and so there's eternally something to talk about. It's good to have neighbors, and it's good to know them. It's good to have someone who lives nearby that you can rely on in an emergency. And it's good to have a calendar filled with little kid parties. There's a sign on my street that warns "NO OUTLET" but it's a cul-de-sac, which means "bottom of the bag" in French. Tolkien called the Hobbit's home "Bag End" to make fun. If I recall, the Hobbits lived in a pretty good place, and were dedicated to one another. This all makes sense to me. In a cul-de-sac, the only way out is through each other.