Mom walked in, exhausted, with two bags of groceries in her hands. She had walked the two miles to and from the grocery store. She didn’t ask for help in putting away the groceries, she never did. I took the bags from her and she sat down heavily.
“Ma, why didn’t you take the bus?” I asked. I didn’t ask why she didn’t take the car because she hated driving. Watching her tense behind the steering wheel was agony. Worse was the embarrassment in school where the mean kids mocked her driving behind my back; said she never got out of second gear.
“Which bus should I take? The store’s right here.”
Boys’ weekend is how I remember it. That’s what my dad used to call it. It was a monthly ritual. I was always excited and not just because it made me feel like a grown up doing important stuff but more so because I got to spend time with my dad. It was as close as we’d ever get. Boys’ weekend was an exclusive club of two.
He would back his ’74 Volvo sedan out of the garage and park it in the driveway. Then we would start cleaning up the garage. I would sweep the floor while he dusted the tools lining the wall.
Finally we would clean and wax the car. When the car finally shined to his satisfaction he would proudly say, “Isn’t she a beauty?” And she was a beauty. The olive green exterior and red leather seats gave it a distinct bright look.
We clumsily felt each other over our clothes. It was always her that led. I followed. She was the first to kiss me on my lips. And I kissed her back. She was the first to feel my chest. And I felt her breasts over her bra, still not daring to go further. The back seat was cramped to do much more but she managed to sit on me, me slumped on my back and she sitting on me with her knees on either side of me. We kept kissing but our real focus was on our hips. She was grinding her hips on me, feeling my hard on. I was powerless to stop myself from climaxing in my briefs. I knew she realized it as well and I was embarrassed. But she didn’t say anything. Instead she kissed me and got off me and out the car.
She sat on a rock by the side of the road and looked up at me with a smile. She patted on the rock next to her, inviting me to sit there. We locked arms and she tilted her head and rested in on my shoulder.
We locked arms and looked at our reflections in the car in front of us. I always kept it sparkling like my Dad before me.
“Look after your mom and your sisters.” I remembered him whispering to me like it were yesterday. I didn’t have to ever look after them but I took excellent care of his car. Even though I wasn’t old enough to have a license I would keep the car in mint condition, both from the outside and inside.
Her eyes rested on the small dent in the body above the rear right wheel and she looked at me accusingly. “Not very perfect, are we?” she said, poking my ribs.
Every once in a while there was a new sports craze in school. That year it was high jump. We would line up and jump over an obstacle. The obstacle would be the person to fail the last round of jumps. This person would sit on the floor with a leg extended, then one leg over the first one, then each arm, one after the other, over that, and then he would get up and kneel. At this point someone would invariably fail his jump and knee the poor obstacle in his gut.
I carried the high jump craze home from school. I lined up cushions over one another near the entrance to my bedroom, ran a few yards from the next bedroom and then jumped over the cushions. When the cushions piled up too high for me to jump over I had the idea to use a small stool to boost my jump. Only problem was I had placed the stool right at the bedroom entrance. I ran, stepped on the stool and jumped. I instantly felt a hammer blow to my head when I hit it against the head of the door frame.
For the next few seconds I was lying motionless on the cushions. Then I stood up and walked in a stupor. When my mom saw me she shrieked. There was blood running down my face. I didn’t know then but I had given myself a nasty gash on the head.
That was the first and probably last time mom ever sped. She raced to the hospital. I would have applauded her driving except at the turn into the hospital parking lot she bumped the rear of the car into a light pole.
Later I got the paint around the dent fixed. But I never fixed the dent itself.
“Nope,” I said, “Not perfect. But pretty darn close.”