A small town. Early evening. My cousin and I are taking a walk through an older neighborhood. It’s sunset, children are outside for the final hours of dusk.
It’s funny. It only seems like yesterday that my cousin and I would attend summer Vacation Bible School as children. We’d play games. Smashing balloons, balancing eggs on spoons, running three-legged races.
When we got older, we volunteered as VBS leaders, too. It was a lot of hard work, I remember that much.
But I also remember when six-year-old Mattie Nielsen hugged me so hard she almost choked me.
Little Mattie said, “I LOVE YOU MISTER SEAN!”
I was too stunned to even answer her. I asked why Mattie loved me.
“BECAUSE,” Mattie shouted. “THEY HIRED YOU TO TEACH VBS!”
That poor, misinformed child. Nobody “hires” you to teach VBS. You sort of get “sentenced” into it.
On our walk, we pass neighbors. A man is washing a small, pink bicycle with a hose.
The man tells us that his daughter rode her bike through the mud. “She just learned to ride last week,” the
man adds. “She’s growing so fast.”
We keep strolling.
We pass an old man on a porch. He’s smoking a pipe. I can smell it. You don’t see tobacco pipes much anymore. His grandson is with him.
“Ready for football season?” my cousin shouts to them.
“War Eagle!” man and grandson holler.
“War Eagle!” my cousin answers, elbowing me.
I am silent. I was born during the third quarter of Bear Bryant’s farewell Liberty Bowl. I don’t War Eagle.
We walk past kids and adults who are in their yard, playing—tossing Frisbees toward metal baskets.
“What game is that?” my cousin asks them.
“Frisbee golf,” says a man. “It’s kids versus adults, the kids are beating us silly.”
Soon we are long past the residential area, on a dirt road. We pass barns…