The day after I booked this weekend's flight to New York City over a month ago, a mom from school called and asked if I'd stay with her kids for a few nights. The amount I'm being paid comfortably covers the cost of my passage to that Great City I've been missing lately. A little NYC jaunt like this has to roll around every couple of years for me to feel like the city girl in me is getting a good measure of sustenance. I just love it when things work out.
What's better is that the kids are so cool -- a gal in tenth grade and a boy in eighth. They're really great eaters and loved my Latin-inspired offerings for dinner this evening. They even commented on the fact that they love big chunks in salsa. This is a quality which usually turns kids off and makes them yearn for sticky-sweet Pace Picante. Blech. "No picky eaters allowed in this family," they said with mouths full of a jumble of corn, zucchini and green chile. This warms me to the core. What makes me even happier is that they can actually carry on a conversation without referring to Justin Bieber or Miley Cyrus or anything that swims in the dark waters of today's sad state of pop culture. We talked about Coneheads, Monty Python and Hitchcock instead. I'm sure they're not immune to the usual, but at least they're not consumed.
Now after locking the doors, checking on the lizards, drawing the shades and preparing the coffee maker for its early morning duties, I find myself in a little antique twin bed in a hide-colored anteroom off the kitchen. If a maid did ever keep quarters in this house, she did so here. Between then and now, however, the college-age elder brother took up residence. He's a boy's boy if any of the appointments in this room have anything to say about him. On the bookshelf, four years worth of Field and Stream issues, a well-worn edition of How to Stay Alive in the Wild next to a long line of artillery shells and a little dusty black cowboy boot. Above the bed, three squirrel pelts and a turkey tail. Above the dresser, duck decoys and a shooting target. In the medicine cabinet: hair pomade, fly fishing ties and a commemorative pin from a clay pigeon competition. Next to the door, a topographical map of the Cimarron region in New Mexico.
The world of a boy.
It occurs to me as I lie here that I know nearly nothing of this other universe, this wondrous place where men start to become themselves. It has filled me with intrigue tonight.