[dropcap]S[/dropcap]itting on porches. That’s what people like us do. We sit outside, while the sun lowers. Most of us can’t even tell you why we do it. Maybe it’s the crickets. Lord, you should hear them whine, they’re enough to make a man deaf.
Anyway, it’s not just me, it’s the whole South. Everyone sits on the porch. Drive up the road into Escambia County, I promise you’ll see folks chewing the fat out front. Butler, Conecuh, Covington. All over. In some cases, you’ll even see freezers and sofas on our porches. Maybe it looks trashy to you.
Good thing it’s not your porch.
Porch-sitting must’ve started with our parents, since they didn’t have air conditioners as children. My father said his family didn’t have AC until he was past high-school age.
But, I don’t think it has anything to do with that. Take me, for instance, my house is sixty-eight degrees inside. Yet here I sit, watching my neighbor work on his car.
That joker doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing beneath the hood. Every few minutes he hollers something to me, like, “Hey, you think kitty litter really gets oil stains off driveways?”
No. It doesn’t. That’s an old wives tale.
Ellie Mae, my coonhound, likes it out here as much as I do. She’s laying by my feet, snoring like freight engine. The mosquitoes are throwing a dinner party on her nose—a cocktail party on the back of our necks.
Neighborhood kids on bikes keep turning around in my driveway. They’re playing hockey on bicycles—a sure-fire way to break their necks. The adult in me yells out, “Y’all be careful now!” My voice is a dead-ringer for Daddy’s.
They have no intentions of being “careful.” And I wouldn’t want them to. The primary privilege of childhood is not having to be careful.
So, I’m closing my eyes and trying to remember my own childhood. Funny. I can’t recall much. Not a single television show, nor comic book. Not which year the Mayflower set sail, nor a sentence from Macbeth. And I’d be hard pressed to remember a lick of algebra.
But I can recount to you—with meticulous detail—entire evenings from my childhood porch. I remember the gnats. Humidity. My father sitting on the swing, shirtless, like a damned country idiot.
Sometimes, I feel like an orphan. I don’t tonight.
You ought to hear these crickets.