Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sixteen Months

About a week ago, Xtina's book club was convening at our humble home and I thought of the wonderful idea that Lucas and I would make ourselves scarce so that the ladies could discuss their literary musings in peace. So after almost a year and a half of knowing one another Lucas and I had our very first boys night out!

We went to dinner at one of our favorite local restaurants, Ponces. I eagerly anticipated scarfing down delicious burritos without a worry to my name. We'd frequented this particular establishment often and Lucas was already recognized as a regular customer of course. I figured that he would feel comfortably at home, besides the atmosphere is usually at the same volume level as Lucas' eager lung capacity so we'd blend right in.

When we arrived we were required to wait for a table of seven to be seated before us. As our hosts pushed a bunch of tables together to fit the large group I noticed that a tiny two person only table was freed up from the rearrangement. At the same time a larger four person booth was being cleared in the back completely out of the flow of traffic. I prayed dearly for the booth, but I realized that long ago God must've forsaken me due to my lousy faith and my pleading thoughts fell uselessly to the floor. The host came over with a smile and lead me into disastrous territory.

Now I am the type of person who simply likes to allow life to wash right over me so to speak. I don't let it suffocate me in anyway. I just breathe in with the waves as they ebb and flow around me. What I mean to say is that there isn't a lot of things that embarrass me or worry me or overwhelm me. I just merely wish to enjoy what I have and where I am because that's exactly what I need or where I'm supposed to be. This philosophy isn't always easy to live by.

Because of the fact that the table we sat at was barely big enough to set a couple of plates and a drink or two on its surface, I didn't have the luxury of keeping everything out of reach from mon cheri. Whenever we've gone to Ponces before there was at least one other person along for the ride and I wasn't forced to focus my entire attention on the little guy. This time I wasn't allowed that pleasure and it was quite an adventure.

I quickly decided that there was nothing I could do to keep the food away from him so I just gave him a spoon and let him dig into his chicken taco with gusto. He proceeded to push the contents of his plate in every direction; in his mouth, on his napkin, on the table and the floor of course. It didn't take long for him to become more interested in the new power he commanded than actually eating anything, but he had to eat something so I periodically let him have some of my burrito whist desperately trying to catch flinging lettuce at the same time. It was a full time project and by the time we managed swallow most of our food I realized that I'd only taken one sip off the beer I'd ordered at the beginning of the night. Needless to say, I proceeded to guzzle my dreams of perfect fatherhood into my belly hoping they might digest into something warm and comfortable.

Meanwhile Lucas was the hit of the party; cackling madly at everything with a glorious light in his eye. He was a wonder to watch and I wasn't the only one who noticed. He's already quite the ladies man. They were all enamored with him, which makes sense because he is pretty adorable. I must say though that I was pretty happy to leave. I couldn't recall the last time I had such a stressful evening.

But before we went home I decided to walk off the dinner and maybe a little bit of the stress as well. I took Lucas over to the Kensington Park, which has a small playground that he loves to go to. It was pretty dark and quiet by then and the only people we saw was a couple making out on the park bench, who made a rapid retreat once they realized we were headed their way. Lucas was having a blast walking around this familiar place in the dark, but he didn't want to go on any of the slides or the swings like he usually does. He just wanted to walk everywhere. That's his new thing anyway. He wants to walk everywhere we go, just put him down, take tail and try to keep up and keep him safe and sound.

Well, shortly after we wandered a bit a young kid suddenly came up to me and asked me if I saw his friend come out of the library, a girl with a red sweatshirt. By the time we arrived the library was closed and like I said the place was practically empty. This guy was pissed. She was supposed to wait for him and since she didn't, he wanted to make somebody knew that it was upsetting him royally. That someone turned out to be me and no matter how sympathetic I tried to be while making sure I remained focused on my meandering son, he let me have it in more words than one. Finally I had just had to get out of there so I picked up Lucas, wished the guy luck and started to walk away. But this guy wasn't finished so he followed me for half a block, still vocalizing his anguish in modern terms hoping something, perhaps the night God, would give him the redemption he deserved.

The harsh air of the night infiltrated my soul in much the same way it had twisted this young man. I felt terrible sympathy for him even though I didn't respect the ignorant hateful way that he expressed himself, but all I wanted to do was make sure that my son was protected from it. There really was very little I had to offer him except for maybe a sounding board to swallow all the anger and hurt that had him in its clutches. I realized that I need to remember this boy, because not too long ago he was like Lucas, cackling and merely wishing to walk. Somewhere along the way a darkness seeped in and took root and caused malice to grow where it has no reason to be. It's like a weed. It's not supposed to be watered and nurtured with forgetfulness, but sometimes that's exactly what happens. We forget.

Lucas, I promise that I will weed your garden.

And I can't wait for the next boys night out. I'm sure that it's only going to get better.

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