As a kid growing up in the ’70s, I never planned out my Saturdays…they just happened. They always started early; you rose with the sun to get the most out of your day. Out the door by 8 a.m., Davey’s house by 8:05. In Davey’s driveway, I hopped off of my bike before it came to a stop and was walking toward the garage as my bike continued forward into the grass where it fell over on to its side upon losing momentum. I entered the garage through the side door and moved to the interior kitchen door. It only took a couple of knocks before Davey’s mom answered the door dressed in her house coat. “Well aren’t you up early” she exclaimed! “C’mon in…Davey’s upstairs getting dressed.” She pulled the door open and I passed by into the kitchen.
Davey’s little sister was sitting at the kitchen table. An open box of Quisp® cereal to her right. She was eating pancakes with syrup; pieces of cut-up pancakes remained on her plastic plate, a few more were stuck in her hair. “Oh Marie…look at you!” Davey’s mom grabbed a dish towel and attempted to clean the pancakes out of her hair. Davey’s father entered the kitchen from the living room; an empty bowl in his hand, which he placed in the sink. He turned and closed up the box of cereal.
Davey’s mother put the dish cloth down on the table. “Did you eat breakfast?” “Do you want some pancakes?” I’m sure I made an involuntary expression of disgust, which gratefully passed unnoticed. “No thanks…I think my mom is making them for dinner.” “Well you need to eat something…how ‘bout some cereal?” She opened a cupboard and brought down a bowl. Davey’s father pushed the cereal box toward me before he walked back toward the living room. I sat down and poured some Quisp® into the bowl. Davey’s mom passed a carton of milk to me, which she had grabbed from the refrigerator, then sat back down at the table to read the magazine she had put down to answer the door. I tried to read the “fun riddles” on the back of the cereal box as I ignored the pieces of pancakes flying in my direction. For the remainder of the wait, the three of us sat at the table in silence. I hurriedly scooped spoonfuls of cereal into my mouth, anticipating that Davey would come down the stairs at any moment so we could start our day.
I thanked Davey’s mom for breakfast, as Davey and I shot out the kitchen door and into the garage. “Hey…” she yelled; interrupting our escape to the great outdoors. “Take these in case you get hungry later.” She handed me two chocolate pudding cups and Davey two plastic spoons, and at that, we continued our advance outside.
Davey and I spent the next couple of hours moving from various activities. We shot some baskets for a while at one of our neighbor’s driveway basketball courts before moving on to throwing a football we had found in the yard. We had eaten the pudding cups as soon as we had left the house. I shot a pass over Davey’s head and we watched the ball bound off of the road into another neighbor’s yard, taking it as a cue to find something else to do.
We then rode our bikes around the neighborhood with no intent or objective; past Billy’s house twice before Davey suggested we stop. It was two knocks past 10:30 when Billy opened the door and welcomed us into his house. We moved through the house to the basement door, flicked on the light and headed down. Billy’s parents had recently finished their basement…paneled walls, shag rug, furniture, bean bag chair, and cable TV…24 stations of it…Hallelujah! We were a half-hour into watching professional wrestling when Billy’s mother came down carrying a basket of laundry. “Billy…you should have told me that your friends were over.” “Are you guys hungry?” She didn’t wait for an answer and we didn’t offer one. She had put the basket down and was already heading up the stairs. We were focused on André the Giant’s signature knee-drop. We all cringed in unison!
A few minutes later, Billy’s mom was back down the stairs carrying boxes of Bugles® and potato chips and a container of onion dip. She placed everything on a table before moving back to the clothes basket. “There’s sodas in the refrigerator.”
Forty-five minutes passed before Billy’s mom headed back up the stairs carrying the now empty basket. At the landing, she peered back over her shoulder to see the three of us sitting on the shag carpet staring intently at the TV; empty soda cans on the table and Bugles® on each of our outstretched fingers.
At noon, the three of us headed up the stairs and back through the house to the front door. We found time during the commercials to plan a baseball game, but needed more players. Our first stop was Tommy’s house. We found him in his kitchen eating lunch and decided to wait. As we sat there watching him eat, the door into the garage opened and Tommy’s mom entered the house carrying a bag of groceries. “Oh…wow…I didn’t expect to see you all!” Tommy mumbled something with his mouth full, which none of us could understand, other than his mom who took the cue to offer us something to eat. She pulled bread and cheese out of the grocery bag and made us all toasted cheese sandwiches; two sandwiches for Davey, who indicated he hadn’t eaten breakfast. We thanked Tommy’s mom for lunch before heading out to find the other players.
To speed up the team building process, we split up to gather players and equipment. We agreed to meet at the circle in a half hour. I arrived on time with Curtis and Marvin, a couple bats, Curtis’ glove and a bag of M&Ms® from Marvin’s mother. Davey rode up with Royce and his sister. A few minutes later, Tommy rode up with a left-over pizza from Charlie’s mother. “Where’s Charlie?” I asked. “Visiting his grandmother,” Tommy answered. “But his mom said we could have the pizza.”
For the next couple hours we had a grand ‘ol time playing baseball and feasting on M&Ms® and cold pizza. It was close to dinner time when the bell rang out calling me home. I hopped on my bike, said my goodbyes, and pedaled as fast as I could toward home. I turned down my street and, as tradition dictated, headed for the storm gutter grate along the side of the road at its intersection with the cross street. I had successfully accomplished this exercise a hundred times before; taking for granted that the wheels would glide smoothly across the grate. Not this time! The front wheel dropped into the slot between the two cross bars, locking it in place. As physics dictates, the back of the bike continued to rotate forward advancing me over the handle bars and onto the awaiting, unforgiving pavement.
“Are you alright?” Charlie’s mom called out to me from her backyard. She had witnessed my fall and was hurrying toward me as I started to get up. I was intact except for a few patches of skin, which were left on the pavement. “We can’t have you going home looking like that!” “Let’s get you cleaned up.” My bike was surprisingly in good shape; better shape than me, so I left it on the grass as I walked with Charlie’s mom into her house. She cleaned up the wounds and placed bandages with antibiotic cream on each one. When she was done, she asked me again if I was OK before sending me on my way. I thanked her for helping me and for the leftover pizza she had given to us earlier. Before I left, she gave me a blue raspberry freeze pop. Back outside, I stuck the freeze pop in my mouth, and walked the rest of the way home.
I entered the house as my mom was placing a stack of pancakes on the kitchen table. Through the eyes in the back of her head that mothers have, she was able to see the bandages on my legs and arms and was quick to my side. “Oh my goodness…what happened?” “I fell off my bike, but I’m OK…Charlie’s mom saw me fall and helped me.” “Well that was really nice of her…I’ll have to give her a call after dinner.” “You must be starving…you didn’t eat breakfast and didn’t come home for lunch.” “I’m really not hungry.” “Well…you can’t just not eat!”
There was a knock at the door; my mom and I both turned to see Davey. I could see my bike behind him. “C’mon in Davey!” my mother said. “Did you eat dinner yet?”