DECAMERON TALES # 13 July 19, 2020
Another quiet July 4th. Not so long ago the family would be in the midst of a raucous, boozy party. We take our holidays very seriously. Not all of them of course as we are quite discerning. We pull out the stops for the eating holidays, the 4th being among them. Curious how such rituals become embedded like so many alarm clocks and prod us with their absence.
My reverie was interrupted by the sound of squealing tires as a yellow open-top four-door jeep, sans doors, blew through the stop sign near our house. (Stop signs in Ct. apply only to New Yorkers.) The passengers were five young women, all blonds, having the time of their lives. I could hear their howling and cackling all the way down to the state highway. The exuberant zest for life as yet untamed by caution. Days later, three teenage girls were skateboarding down the road. They were sitting on their boards steering and slowing by dragging their feet. (Mom, next time I need the more expensive sneakers. These cheap things are almost worn out!!)
It then occurred to me that almost all of the passing parade were female. Where are all the males? I would think that the lockdowns might be an ideal opportunity for enhanced togetherness. Guess not. If familiarity doesn’t always breed contempt, it apparently tests the limits. So each gender gathers in flocks.
On a number of occasions before the pandemic, I puckishly suggested to some male joggers pausing for a breather that too much running has been linked to the premature onset of male pattern baldness. I’m thrilled! Perhaps I’ve become an “influencer”.
The only reliable male passersby are retirees out with their spouses. Ascending the hill arm in arm, they are a touching affirmation of affection grown deeper by the passing of the years. An added benefit is that holding hands and being shoulder to shoulder, they are less likely to fall over. I have observed them often enough that I can usually tell at what point on the hill each couple will stop to rest. The wildcard, of course, is the ambient temperature. The mailbox cluster just up from our house is a favorite. Some wheeze to a halt at a further driveway. Others make the entire hill and disappear over the crest of the hill. It is unclear if they are continuing to amble on or have sagged onto the pavement in a stupor.
Sal and I usually make the crest but require a significant pause on our journey. We’ve become quite adept at understanding the other gasping out sentence fragments. Since it’s embarrassing to be seen idling about on the road, I often ostentatiously pretend to admire the neighbor’s shrubbery when anyone passes us by.
Another curious observation is that the passersby are invariably very high talkers. They are loud! We can often eavesdrop on their conversations at a considerable distance. The exception for some reason is when they are on their cells. On the phone, they use a normal speaking tone. I have a theory! Regardless of our ages, we reflexively harken to the mantra of our mothers: “Indoor voices please, indoor voices.” Locked down lo these many months, the decibels build up to unsustainable levels. Leaving the house, there is a spontaneous release of the pressurized decibels rather akin to opening a bottle of warm seltzer. I shall closely monitor the walkers. If my hunch is correct, after a period of outgassing, the return trip should be much quieter.
Will post updates.