From House to Home (6/8)

Part Six – When Reality Slaps you in the Face. Then Kicks you to the Curb

Safety seemed to be a reoccurring theme around the OP.  Residents erected twelve foot solid stone walls around their houses that were equipped with the latest surveillance technology. Electric dog fences were very popular with others. A fence around the pool inside the larger fence was as self evident as BBQ after church on Sunday.

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So I guess it should have come as no surprise that one afternoon, when I invited several families on my street to my backyard for some unstructured playtime with the kids, I came face-to-face with the deathtrap in which I had been raising my children.

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My husband had bought a trampoline that Christmas. Since our children were younger, we got the obligatory safety net around it. As families arrived with their children, I started to sense their unease as they eyed the trampoline.

One lady remarked how her husband would never ever, under any circumstances have a trampoline in their yard, it was far too dangerous. I made some comment about how I had grown up with one in my backyard, sans a net, and I survived just fine. Being her effortlessly confident and laid-back self, she didn’t make any further issue out of it.

Then came the men who lived across the street and had two girls close to Archie’s and Rhett’s ages. One was a tech guy, and the other a Harvard Medical School grad.

They had always been a bit tricky from the start. At first I thought they just didn’t like me, which honestly I found very hard to believe. I lived in the heart of the Gayborhood in Chicago. I was an interior designer, where most men I worked with were gay. The boy I babysat growing up came out to me when he was just fifteen. I had a connection with this genre; however, these two totally eluded me.

They would wear their plaid button-up shirts, talk sports to my husband, and go on trips with their college frat buddies. They fit in so seamlessly with the other dudes on the street, that my husband and I were secretly convinced they were closet straights.

The situation took a turn for the worse when all the kids ran toward the trampoline, i.e. the iron maiden, and one of them made some snide comment about the beast looming in front of us.

I quickly tried to compare it to nothing more than a bouncy house, hoping that would appease their fears, when Harvard turned to me and with a smirk and said, “Sure, until someone fractures a rib”.

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Now this remark alone would not have bothered me very much if it weren’t for the fact that a certain incident had just taken place in the neighborhood a week earlier. Each year our neighborhood throws a party celebrating Fiesta in San Antonio. The event, which is catered free of charge by a local Mexican restaurant, gives the community a chance to put on their colorful traditional Mexican shirts and dresses (known only to actual Mexicans as Guayaberas), drink margaritas, eat tacos, and really connect with the Hispanic roots of our great city.

It’s a time to bring the little ones out to ride their bikes and jump in one of three bouncy houses, also provided by the city. It’s a family affair all around.

There’s just one small little detail that no one really mentions. The party also coincides with the annual Open Carry Law demonstration. For those of you unfamiliar with this phenomena, it is basically a bunch of overweight, poorly groomed, flip flop wearing, red necks who clearly have nothing better to do than to try to play John Wayne and invade neighborhood parties showing off an arsenal, and I mean an arsenal of weaponry.

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These men boys and their toys basically just walk around Olmos Park exercising their right to carry a gun by showing off their rifles, guns, mass killing machines, cartridges of bullets, you name it. It is basically for guys who want to act like Longmire, just not as smart or good-looking. The sad thing is, the police, by law, have to allow these wannabe renegades the right to do so.

So in the end, the entire circle where the Fiesta Frolic is held, is essentially surrounded by police officers standing with guns, protecting men armed with their guns, while they walk amongst children playing in the bouncy houses accompanied by their white parents dressed up as Mexican peasants.

But I digress. My point is, I actually met the gays on their way back from the aforementioned Fiesta Frolic that spring. They were walking back with their children, faces all brightly painted, holding balloons and smiling.

Now standing in front of these two with their snarky judgement in my own backyard, I wanted to scream at Harvard. “You mean to tell me you have no problem exposing your children to a possible full-on renegade shoot-out, God forbid something got out of hand up there with the gun activists, but you have a problem with my trampoline?”

Of course I just politely smiled the Southern way and muttered through clinched teeth, “Would you like a drink?”

And thus, I couldn’t ignore it any longer. The tide started to recede revealing the tangled, smelly piles of seaweed and trash where once a shimmering and pristine pool of water had been.

 

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