perils with writing and whatnot
Did you hang out with your friends when you were a teenager? This is a story about one of my hangout.
The house that I grew up in was just a three-bedroom frame house. It was small by the standards of today. I had thought at the time that it was a normal-size house. All but one house in the neighborhood were pretty much the same with the only differences being a couple of feet more in the living room or having only two bedroom instead of the three like it was in my home. (The exception was the farmhouse that had been there long before there was a neighborhood around it.)
We had one of the bigger lots on the block, ¾ acre. This gave us a little more room for lawn, brushes and trees in our front and back yard. However, my parents decided three trees were enough in spite of the area they had to work with. One of those trees was a crab apple tree that was placed dead center in the middle of our front yard.
It wasn’t as large as many trees that I saw in the yards of neighbors but it did give some shade that I enjoyed during the summer months when I was a young preteen and teen. A few neighborhood kids and I would sit in its cool shade in the afternoon talking about things that didn’t matter at all by the time we graduating high school.
At the tender age of twelve, I was already quite aware of boys. The most prominent reason was that I had played with boys in the past. I considered them friends just as I did with the girls. Still, I was starting to learn the art of flirting. Who better to practice on then the neighborhood boys? Of course, in order to flirt, one must be in the same general locale to get any response at all. My perch was under the crab apple tree.
I was always the first one out there sitting on the grass in the shade. The other girls in the neighborhood that were in my age bracket wouldn’t venture out until they would see another girl out there. I could understand their reluctance to sit under my crab apple tree without me being there, but I thought it odd that they wouldn’t come out and knock at my front door to find out when I’d be out there. I had been told that many girls wait for someone else this way, and it was more or less a worldwide phenomenon. Yet, to this day, I really don’t understand this hesitation they give into at the loss of being as sociable as they’d like to be.
Chuck, who lived next door and was one of the boys I practiced my flirting with, sometimes would be outside sitting on his front stoop when I’d fly out my front door heading for the cool shade. As soon as I’d get myself settled under the tree, he’d come sauntering over and plop his body down a few feet away from me. His way of handling the wait for me made perfect sense; completely contrary to what the girls were always doing.
There was one girl I could count on to join me almost every day. Patty lived across the street and one house over from mine. She was shyer than I was but wanted to perfect her flirting as much as I did with mine. When the boys were off doing other things, we would sit in the shade talking about what mattered to young teenage girls. Most conversations, of course, were about boys.
As the teenage years went by, the ritual of sitting under the crab apple tree dwindled, although it didn’t completely vanish until the summer after I graduated from high school. The hours I had for leisure spent sitting in the shade of that tree were slowly replaced with sitting under another tree in a park three miles away.
Text+Sound by Wayne Mason
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