Somos un par, yo y él. Me with my cynicism. He with the sweet and gentle innocence. Just walking. Together. Before we leave, he argues with me about taking his scooter. We bought it for him because it looked fun. Only one big gift he gets every Christmas. I wanted the basketball court. His mother the scooter. It is electric and can go pretty fast, ponle a good eight to ten miles an hour, but most days the poor kid can’t ride it except in our backyard. There, In between the driveway of cars – some old, some new, some still decent, and way too many for our little household of three, but some of them don’t run – and the fallen tree limbs in the yard, the spurting weeds in the cracks of cement – we once thought we actually had a backyard before we started removing the sand and ended up with double the slab and half the grass – that’s where he’s left to conquer this ruby red engine on wheels. Most days I just feel bad for him circling around over and over again, but he genuinely seems to enjoy it.
Tonight we’ve decided to go for a walk. Well really I have, for two reasons: the first because there comes a point when you look at your own self captured in the permanency of a picture and realize all of the lies you’ve been telling yourself are exactly just that, lies – in my case, that the larger waistband and kilitos de más were not really a big deal (in this particular picture ni me conosco yo mismo… ahora entindo porque some people actually cry about their weight… pero me aguanto); and two because Edgar is resorting to jumping around in front of me making funny faces and noises, just to get my attention. When that doesn’t work, he resorts to the collection of all the same movies in his room that he’s already watched about a dozen times each. The one he’ll watch is the one with the least amount of scratches on it… that his play station will still play.
Me: Put on your shoes… vamonos.
Him: Can I take my scooter?
Silence while we both put on our shoes…
Him: Can I? Can I? Can I take my scooter, huh? Can I? Huh?
Normally I’d say no, there are too many streets and driveways along the way, but the thing has been sitting in the back yard for days and Edgar won’t touch it in the dead heat of our recent and consecutive 100+ degree days lately. It’s now just past eight o’clock. I know this because the novela we like to watch has just finished (Teresa), and the next one, which is not all that great, has already started. The theme song and intro have just finished and one of the actresses is already in tears on our television screen. I just nod and he runs outside to get it.
I want to joke, he wants to talk life. The more he tells me about the parent-teacher meeting we apparently just missed – it ended at eight according to Edgar – the more I make up cheesy stories and what I can only assume are really bad jokes because he doesn’t actually laugh at any of them, only smirks and smiles occasionally. He zooms off ahead of me. I walk behind. He stops, steps off the scooter, and waits for me to catch up, before zooming off again. We take a few steps together. He zooms off again. I yell. He turns and waits for me. Our walk is a good forty minutes tonight and like usual by the time we make it back home we’re walking closer together. He’s still riding and I’m still walking, but somehow we’ve managed to meet somewhere in the middle.
He didn’t even ask for anything when we stopped at the Latino Food Mart to buy the eight pound bag of ice to carry home.