Fair Time

We were all busboys in my Father’s restaurant back in the early 60’s; Pop considered my rapidly dwindling supply of school friends to be his pool of cheap labor and constantly urged me to lure more of them, unsuspecting, into the fold.

He couldn’t understand why no one stayed; the Halloween like attire of white shirt, orange bow tie and black slacks, being ordered around by the menopausal female wait staff, insulted and made fun of by acerbic Chinese cooks, the stingy wage and paltry tips, taken together, they were quite the quartet of unique enticements after all.

At that age, money holds small appeal, especially when life’s filled with lazy summer days and no one waits beyond the door, with tapping foot, expecting the rent or auto payment.

Real enticement was the occasional pilfered beer or an excuse to be out late “working”, now those held attraction, particularly during Fair time, late July, early August.

Walking home after work, street lamp to street light, the cool of the evening pushing against the remaining heat of the day, joking and jostling, a diminutive school of boys, past that ratty, one level apartment building over by the John Tuck playground, where the big church now stands.

Music seeps from beneath the partially open window, sounds of soft laughter, and the clink of ice in glass, low moans and furtive whispers.

The shade only slightly drawn, some fortunate Cowboy becoming “Lucky”, and our boys, luckier still; silence in the class as the lesson unfolds, it’s silhouettes through a mail slot, like watching Black and white T. V. in a darkened room, only better.

Much better.

The evening passes in ways only imagined.

Cigarette smoke drifts into the night, the sounds of slumber replacing those of passion and the morning light begins to reach out over the desert to the east; in silence now the boys coast away to their respective homes and dreams, consigning everything to memory and for ever grateful to Pop for that job, and, to God for that moment.Fair time


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