Well, there are a lot of things that stick out in my head when I recall the events of the past couple of days, the quiet girl is the one I hope to remember most.
First of all, there were many activities that had to be packed into the weekend. A bachelor party in the form of a golf outing was the first thing in order. A group of about 10 of us gathered at the local watering hole in order to park some cars and caravan our way to the course. During the drive, side bets were made and the inevitable good-natured trash talking that occurs amongst such a group was in full gear.
Naturally, upon our arrival at the links, the skies started to darken and thunder could be heard off in the distance. It wasn’t long before the heavens opened up and the rain got pretty intense. We ducked into the clubhouse and comforted ourselves by nursing down a few beers and by keeping a wary eye on The Weather Channel and its constant shots of the Doppler radar, all the while hoping to see a break that might enable to resume our little party. (Note: For any of you golfers out there, I’m sure you might’ve experienced the same thing under different circumstances.)
Anyway, it looked like we had a couple of hours to kill before the skies would clear and some in our group were hinting that we should just say “The hell with it” and make our way home. Others wanted to stay and wait it out. Finally, it was agreed that we could all drink together anytime but when would we ever get the 10 of us together to play a round of golf again? The decision was (wisely) made to stay.
I won’t bore you with the play by play or shot by shot account of my round, suffice it to say that I wound up losing about twenty bucks and got a swift kick to whatever ego I might have concerning my golf game.
We made it back to home base and began the usual ritual of drinking and telling stories about what went on on the course. After about an hour and a half or so, some of the fella’s decided they wanted to take the groom out to one of the local strip clubs, get him lap dance or two and continue the party. I graciously declined the offer for a couple of reasons.
Fist of all, I’m too old for that kinda stuff. On my 46 years on the orb, I’ve seen enough boobs and been in enough of those kinds of places that I don’t find it exciting or stimulating in any way. I think I got that kind of stuff out of my system many, many years ago. (It’s not that I don’t appreciate the “talents” of the ladies working there, I’d just prefer to keep that stuff in a private venue.)
Second of all, it was also the day when we have our annual block party. When the cars are all off the street, the parents all sit outside with their beverage of choice, grills are lined up and the kids are free to wander about on their own. I decided to make my way home where I would be in the company of my fellow neighbors, doing something familiar and comforting.
I was making my way down the block to where all the parents and neighbors had gathered in a circle of chairs in the middle of the street. On my way, I noticed that a basketball hoop had been set up and a bunch of kids were goofing around playing a pick up game. Being somewhat athletic, (and a little drunk), I couldn’t resist. I decided to hang with them and shoot around for a little while.
There were probably six or seven of them, all running around in circles, laughing, yelling and basically being kids. Off to one side, stood a little girl I had never seen before. I’m guessing she was around eleven or twelve, long black hair in pigtails and dark brown eyes that are going to melt many a heart in the years to come. I noticed that she was being more of a casual observer rather than a participant and tossed the ball her way. She caught it and just kinda rolled it back to me.
“Don’t you want to play?”
Before she could answer, one of the boys said something to the effect of:
“Don’t do that, she’s STUPID!”
If there’s one thing that gets my goat, it's little kids saying shit like that, especially within earshot of somebody else. If I was that kids' parent, I’d not only be ashamed of my kid, but also ashamed of myself. Anyway…
I walked over to the little girl and asked her if she was ok. All I got was nods of the head. She looked like she was trying to talk but the words just wouldn’t come out. I started to ask her things like …
“Can you talk?”
“Do you want to talk.”
“Why don’t you talk?”
Shrug of the shoulders
With that, she ran off into the circle of parents and jumped into (what I’m guessing) was her fathers lap. I decided not pursue the issue although during the course of the conversation I would catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. When our eyes did meet, we would exchange a sort of shy or knowing smile that seemed to say that we in on some kind of secret
After a bit, I felt the call of nature and started to head back to my house.
Do you ever have the feeling that you know when somebody is following you? I don’t know if there’s a name for it or not. Maybe it was just my intuition but I turned around and I saw her dart behind a tree and try to hide. I pretended not to see her. This went on a couple of times until I reached my doorstep and she was nowhere in sight. I figured she had gotten bored and just headed back to the safety of her fathers arms.
After tending to my business, I came back outside and the she was sitting on my front steps. I sat down next her and decided to stay quiet too. Maybe she wanted to say the first words or maybe I was just at a loss for words, I still don’t know.
The silence that ensued wasn’t of the “heavy” type. It was more like the silence that occurs between two old friends, when words can so often shatter a moment rather than make it.
I guess she had had enough and got up to go. I decided to try and give it another shot and I asked her again if she could talk.
I told her something along the lines of “You know you’re not stupid, don’t you?”
I then asked her is she wanted to say anything.
Shake of the head, no…
I asked her “Why?”
Shrug of the shoulders…
Then I said that I bet that she had a lot of songs in her head that she was keeping in there all for herself…
I asked if she wanted to sing one…
She shrugged her shoulders and took off running down the block. I’m guessing she wound up back in the arms of her dad.
By this time, it was getting late, a long day of golf and the block party had taken its toll. I decided to just sit on my porch, put on some tunes and enjoy the time to myself. I was just about to call it an evening when I noticed a couple of people walking up the block. I recognized them as the quiet girl and her dad. They were holding hands and as they passed my house, I could hear her whispering to him. I couldn’t make out the words but somehow I felt that I shouldn’t have to. After all, they weren’t intended for my ears anyway.
They got a little ways passed my place and she turned around to look back. She noticed me sitting on my steps, looking at them as they made their way home. I gave her a small smile and a gentle wave and got the same gesture in return. Even though no words were exchanged, I felt a certain of warmth, that somehow we had “connected” and that everything was ok. It was nice….
I never did get the quiet girl to talk nor did I even find out her name. As a matter of fact, I found out later that it was our mailman’s kid and in all likelihood, I’ll never see her again.
I hope she remembers me, at least for a little while, as fondly as I’ll remember her…