Sports Fans by D.E. Hardy
We used to wedge our six and eight-year-old bodies and some beach towels in the triangle seat of our dad’s 280z, although it was neither a seat, nor triangle-shaped. It was, however, the early 1980s, so having my sister and I ride back there still passed as a reasonable parenting decision. We would bounce around and beg my dad to take the hills with a little speed so our skinny, ferret bodies would lift up a little from the force of it, although hill was a strong word for the occasional knolls of western Ohio. It was a treat to ride in the z and an even bigger treat to go to the pool, which cost $2 a head, an expense our mother declared a summertime necessity. And it kind of was. Our house was a hundred-years old. Some of the windows didn’t open, and the ones that did had to be propped up with phonebooks, and there was never any breeze let alone something as amazing as air conditioning. On the worst days, my mom would put on her bathing suit and just stare at my dad until he peeled the beer can he was using as a cooling device off his forehead to say—okay, sports fans, hop in the z—and we girls would cheer, even though neither of us were sports fans, nor played any sports. The whole mood of the house would change, the humidity broken, like our dad’s voice controlled the weather. We would throw on suits and scavenge flip flops from under benches or beds or wherever, imagining the sparkling expanse of over-chlorinated water, the endless calls of Marco/Polo, our goggle-less eyes already starting to itch. We’d quickly munch down a piece of bread before we left because we wouldn’t be getting fries or a burger or an ice cream sandwich or a pop like our friends. We wouldn’t even ask. Maybe we would get to split a popsicle, the kind that comes two to a pack, and we’d pray that the split would be equal so there wouldn’t be any fuss about who should get the bigger half—we’d be so careful—and we’d thank our dad several times, like the only thing we’d ever wanted was a drippy hunk of frozen sugar water, hoping that this time our mom wouldn’t tell our dad how embarrassing it was that he was cheap, and he wouldn’t tell her to shut up, as if our friends and the other parents couldn’t hear, even though everybody’s towels were crowded on the same bit of lawn and there was hardly space to walk. And maybe they wouldn’t fight in the parking lot on the way out, our dad throwing something on the ground just to make our mom pick it up, to prove he was the one who mattered, and she wouldn’t tear up in the car, her thigh making a sucking noise as she lifted it off the hot vinyl seat as she crossed her leg, trying to get her body as far from him as she could in the narrow two-seater. Maybe this time, we could just enjoy the drive home. The windows down. The air rushing. Our dad might floor it, and maybe our water-logged, sunburnt bodies would fly a moment, suspended, as the boundless world sped past.
D.E. Hardy's work has appeared in New World Writing, FlashFlood, Clockhouse Magazine (Pushcart Nomination), and Sixfold, among others. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and can be followed on twitter @dehardywriter.