Thursday, February 11, 2010

Age of Innocence

I'm the queen of the innocent explanation.

As a certified scaredy cat, I grasp, immediately, the darkest possibilities of any situation. Your cat coughed up a hairball.....of death. Your Aunt is whispering...about how much she hates you. The phone rings...presaging Armageddon. My thoughts leap, graceful as ballerinas, to the furthest extremities of pain.

That's when I generate, like a flustered snow machine operator in some muddy corner of Arkansas, the innocent explanations. The cat simply ate too much! Your Aunt lost her voice! It's your mother on the phone; she wants to know where you stashed the washcloths on your last visit. The blizzard of innocent explanations, white and thick and reassuring, obscures all those black futures.

At 8:15 AM, I stood on the stoop of a dirty, smoke-filled house in a shabby part of town. I knocked and knocked again, waiting for the mother of the homebound child due for therapy to come to the door. The wind stung and the snow drifted; I swayed from side to side, balancing, against my hip, a giant light-up toy, some cymbals, and a notebook.

One house over, the door slammed. A large man, coatless and hatless, leapt into his car carrying nothing but a baseball bat. He paused, squinted at me, glared. He resettled the bat in his lap. He peeled out of the driveway and drove off at top speed.


Maybe he had invented the new and exciting game of polar baseball? Maybe he sold artisanal bats for a living? Maybe he had shaped, with dazzling verisimilitude, a loaf of bread to resemble a baseball bat and was taking it to his grandmother, the baseball fanatic, a woman who, at her advanced age, could keel over any moment, thus necessitating a NASCAR-reminiscent style of driving?

Help me.

No comments: