At the Rural Retreat Heritage Day last year: Midsummer
A couple in their sixties sit in front of me while I eat my ribbon fries. They are shaped short and round and happy, like gnomes. We watch the people on parade--mostly families with blond kids whose hair has long gone paler than their skin from the sun, kids who glow in an ocean of pink clothes and July sun.
A couple of high-schoolers linger in front of us, a boy and a girl. They’re together, but slightly mis-matched; she’s got a vaguely punky athletic look: black knee-length shorts, neon sneakers, pink tie-dye shirt. I decide she plays volleyball in school. Her face is a little wry, in a sparkly way. Eyes full of amusement, like Lizzy Bennet’s.
His look is classic Garden and Gun: jeans, belt buckle, white undershirt, baseball cap with the bill cocked high above his hairline and curved. I know those caps don’t come with the bill curved. I went to high school right across the street from where we are. I used to watch the guys on the bus reaching up their hands to their hats to push the sides in, push the sides in, push the sides in. The boy has one of those stoic faces. He’s pretty cut to be honest, muscly. Tan.
The funny thing is that he looks radiantly happy as they pretend fisticuffs on the lawn, laughing and pawing at each other. It's like a damn music video. I think she’s conscious of the people watching--not of us specifically, but of the crowd they’re in. I wonder how long they’ve been dating. I wonder if his face will ever look that open again. Lady gnome says to gentleman gnome with a chuckle, “They get along, don’t they?”
Later I hear the Elvis tribute man in his sparkly jumpsuit sing “I’m caught in a trap, I can’t walk out, I hope this suit don’t tear up baby”. The ladies love it. Dusk is falling and I’m on my way home.