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The Boy Ain’t Broken

As a father of a teenage boy and, in times past, a teenage girl, I am well and used to having a house that, from time to time, is composed of kids. Wall to wall kids. Kids piled on the couches, on the chairs, pressing against the walls, filling the kitchen. Daytime, nighttime, all the time.

Often there will be teens sleeping over. Nearly always my son will ask and rarely have we had any reason to say no. One teen, three teens. If they fit they can stay. Once in a while, though, someone will sleep over we weren’t prepared for. Alek will come in late with a friend too tired to drive, or not feeling well and, as we get out of bed in the morning, as I amble into the living room to stretch or Lee grumps into the kitchen to make coffee, we’ll be surprised by a kid on the couch. Sometimes both couches are full-up with teens supine.

If we see them, we’ll go back and put clothes on. Sometimes they see us first. Our house, right?

One of Alek’s best friends is Tyler. Tyler is great. He can hang around our house anytime he likes as long as he likes. Two years ago, Alek had two friends name Tyler. The way Alek and his other friends differentiated one from the other was to call this Tyler, the Tyler who is still around, the Tyler Alek travels with and skates with, Gay Tyler. The description was not inaccurate and was suggested by Gay Tyler. When the other Tyler disappeared, for good reason, Alek tells me, Gay Tyler became Tyler.

For some reason Tyler likes me. I have no idea why. He did before I met him. Alek tells me my reputation, spread word of mouth student to student, made it from middle school to high school and a bit beyond. He introduced a sixteen-year-old Tyler to me like this:

Tyler: Hi, Mr. Tritt. (I had to break him of the Mr. Tritt habit. He calls me Adam now.)

Alek: Dad, this is Tyler. He wants to date you.

Me: And who doesn’t?

Across from our bedroom, Lee has an office that doubles as a guestroom. Some nights, when Lee feels restless, she’ll leave our room for fear of waking me, go in there, open the bed, turn on the TV and go to sleep. Sometimes she sees it coming, unable to quiet her mind, and will open the couch to a bed before we go to sleep. I tell her not to worry about waking me, but she does.

Last night was one of those nights. It was an exhausting day starting with a ludicrously early start. Our son was out for dinner and a local band and Lee and I were in bed by ten. Not normal for us at all but it seemed a good idea.

Sometime during the night, Lee woke and could not get back to sleep. The next minute, to the best of my three-in-the-morning extrapolation and recollection, looks like this.

Lee gets out of bed. She walks across the hall, knows the couch has been laid out, pulls up the blankets, lies down, covers herself. Moves toward the center of the bed.

That’s the extrapolation. Here is the recollection.

I hear a scream. I wake. Wonder. Hear another. Was it Lee? Was that two screams from different voices? Jump out of bed. It’s coming from Lee’s office. It sounds like two voices, definitely. Lee is standing there, I flip the light on at the door, she is in front of me. In front of her, sitting up in the bed, against the wall, panting, is Tyler.

Apparently, Tyler was too tired to drive home and, not wanting to bother us by being in the living room in the morning, thought sleeping in the guest room would be the polite, proper thing to do. Good thinking. Right he was.

But we had no idea. Lee crawled into bed and, when she moved over, rolled onto Tyler.

Did I mention we do not sleep with clothes on? I’m almost certain I did. If your picture of the event did not include that, let’s replay it.

A naked Lee crawls into bed and rolls over onto (remember his original name) “Gay” Tyler. She then jumps out of bed, and stand there. I run in and stand there. Have it now.

Lee’s just looking at him. Someone has to say something. Might as well me be.

“Tyler? So,… did she… fix you?”

I don’t think so.

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Posted by on January 25, 2009 in Culture, Family, Social

 

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Circle Game

I was told, recently, I was too old. It is the first time I had been told this and, I must admit, I did not like it.

I am in the best shape I have ever been, am healthy and, it seems, according to one source, too old. One of my favorite lines in music comes from “Poems, Prayers and Promises” by John Denver.

Still I have to smile
It turns me on to think of growing old
For though my life’s been good to me
There’s still so much to do

On a ride today to South Florida. Ft. Lauderdale. My son opted to go along. I did not ask but he offered and I was glad for the company.

I grabbed a disk of music titled Sing-a-longs I had made a few months ago. We were on our way.

Against the bright sun I put on a pair of Solar Shields, wraparound polarized lenses since, in the car, out of direct sun, Transition lenses do not live up to their name and become all noun and no verb.

Alek will soon be fifteen. In one month. His sister will be twenty-one soon thereafter. I was there when they were born. It was yesterday. This has all been said before and it is what parents go through. This is nothing new.

The disk played. “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac. I sing to nearly everything. I did not make it through as a lump formed in my throat, pressing against my voice, down and down. It was the live version and Stevie Nicks dedicated it to her father. I was glad for my sunglasses as my eyes began, slightly, to moisten.

Can I handle the seasons of my life?
I don’t know…..I don’t know

Well I’ve been afraid of changin’because I’ve built my life around
you
But time makes you bolder, even children get older
And I’m getting older too….

Next came “Circle Game” by Joni Mitchell.

And the Circles, they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return, we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round in a circle game.

I was a gonner. The lump threatened to take over possession of the entire upper half of my body and my dark glasses now hid tears.

So the years spin by and now the boy is twenty
Though his dreams have lost some grandeur coming true
There’ll be new dreams maybe better dreams and plenty
Before the last revolving year is through.

We were on our way to visit my father. He has been spending time with his parents. His mother does not remember him and his father needs some relief. Four generations and the Great-grandmother is the child again. The Great-grandfather consoled by his son, the son’s mind moved from his worries by his son and my son keeping me company so, after all is said and the doors are closed and we are on the North road again, he can tell me it’s ok.

As we return, Katell Keinig sings:

Lay me down in a wooded field
Plant a bush above my head
Lay me, lay me down
Don’t go writing on my grave
I’ll have it said it all before the end
Lay me, lay me down.

And when we’re all dead
They won’t philosophize
Or feel regret
They’ll remember us when we said
We had one hell of a life.

The song ends and I turn the radio off. We talk and do our best to leave nothing unsaid. There is no time like now.

 
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Posted by on July 6, 2006 in Culture, Family

 

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