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.For the first time I thought about how often and how loudly I’d sworn to get the hell out of Cross Point Village.And I felt sorry.I cleared my throat.“Hey Dad, you put up the cones already?”It was my father’s annual duty to officially close off Polaris Lane on block party day.It was really more ceremonial than anything else, considering the street concluded in a rounded dead end.But kids came from surrounding neighborhoods anyway, relishing the opportunity to play kickball on a carless street without interruption.The Polaris Lane block party had been a tradition since the mid-sixties, always held the first Saturday of July.In a few hours the air would be thick with the smell of charcoal-crusted red meat and there and again the crackle of early firecrackers.He didn’t look up from his newspaper.“Hmm? Oh yes, of course.”My mother’s hands were covered in something that looked like sour cream.She nodded at me.“Krista’s stopping by today.She’s excited to show you the new baby.”Inwardly I groaned.Krista was my cousin.And she was a pain in the ass.We were the same age and so went through school together in sort of a mixed friends/enemies fashion.I never knew what I did to that girl but she always relished any opportunity to make me feel like shit.Krista was not especially pretty but she had the right body and the right phony attitude and from the age of thirteen always had a boyfriend or three hanging off her arm.I would watch Krista smear on dusky pink lipstick in the broken-tiled girls’ bathroom at CPV High as she waxed poetic about her exciting future.She was going to go to New York, she was going to marry a millionaire, she was going to drive a Lamborghini.Then she would smooth her shiny blonde waves and stand sideways, preening into the cloudy mirror, irreverently pleased with herself.But, save a few visits to Albany and Boston, Krista had not left CPV.I’d thought I had one up on her, finally, but then she married Keith Freaking French and starting popping out offspring like the species was endangered.During my brief visits Krista made it her business to search out an occasion to deposit a slobbering baby in my arms and ask, “So how’s the boyfriend status?” with fake interest.Then she would smile at my noncommittal response and cluck some variation of “Always a bridesmaid,” as my mother stood nearby and gazed upon Krista’s growing brood wistfully.I was less than jazzed about having Krista inflicted on my day.But of course I’d expected it so I managed a limp smile as my mother rinsed her hands off in the kitchen sink.Once I’d showered and pulled on a pretty summer weight dress I paused in front of the rectangular mirror affixed to my closet door.When I was in high school I used to paper that mirror with city postcards and Tiger Beat clippings, partly because I liked the way the Cassidy brothers looked and partly because I didn’t like the way I looked.I was thankful to have grown out of that self-doubting teenager.True, I would never be the kind of pencil slim craved by certain guys like Brian Hannity, but I was rather pleased by the womanly curves which stared back at me.Though there really wasn’t much point in flaunting them today.Cross Point Village meant slim pickings; I’d lived here long enough to recognize that every worthwhile man was married (though not every married man was worthwhile) and the only ones left standing were grimly out of shape losers who mooned into their beer six nights a week and wondered what happened to the good old days they’d been promised.I fixed some dangling turquoise earrings and rolled on some cherry lip gloss.Then I kissed the mirror in Krista-esque fashion and braced myself for a day of well-mannered interest in friends and relatives.The block party was in full swing by mid-afternoon.My mother presided over the gigantic potluck table which spanned the length of the Johnson’s curb.A never ending parade of food seemed to land there courtesy of Polaris Lane ladies.Old Lady Johnson wiped a dribble of blueberry pie from her chin whiskers and gazed at me doubtfully.“You got a fella, Andrea?”I concentrated on cutting perfectly equal slices of pie.“It’s Angela, Mrs.Johnson.You used to babysit for me and my brother all the time.”Her desiccated face broke into a frown.“Your brother.He and that lousy little Bendetti shit popped the tires of my Chevy.”I pushed a slice of pie from the server with artful precision.“They popped lot of things, from what I’ve heard,” I muttered.“What?”“Nothing, Mrs.Johnson.Here’s another slice of pie.Would you like some Reddi-wip on that?”After a few hours I was dizzy from greeting people I remembered, people I didn’t remember, and people who I wished I didn’t remember.Although I always made my way back here for Christmas, I hadn’t returned for the block party since college [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]