There's a family up the street from us here on the court; we hardly know them at all. It makes me sad to realize that's how things are in America 2014, because when I was a kid, everybody up and down the street knew everyone else down and up the street. It was great then, but it's not that way anymore, and why even talk about it? We're fortunate to have good neighbors on either side of us, and no one is throwing hams at our house like the people who live next to Oz E. Osbourne have to put up with.
One thing that hasn't changed, never has and never will...boys and girls, they will get together. This family has a daughter; I guess she is maybe 13 or 14. She walks past our house during the school year, going to or coming from school, and the poor thing carries so many books, and I guess a laptop, a printer and a French horn in her backpack that she resembles nothing quite as much as the cover to Led Zeppelin IV.
She usually has the dour expression of someone sentenced to middle school, for which I really can't blame her, but I always try to say something encouraging or at least pleasant when I see her mosey by. Talking to people who may or may not wish to talk back is an old family habit.
But the other day, it was all different. I raised the garage door just as she walked by with a male kid about her age. In the time-honored fashion of 7th graders, they were giggling and goofing. I was headed for the Bag 'N' Save, and as I drove down the hill, I saw them turn to make sure they were out of eyeshot of curious eyes located inside her house, and they gave each other the most chaste little peck and hug around the neck you ever saw. It was just the cutest thing you ever saw. Older kids, you see them saying goodbye to each other at mall dropoff points and high school detention halls, and it looks like a four-armed amoeba eddying around, osculating and schqueezing and so on. But not these youngsters, not at 13.
And even though Hamas and Israel are bombing the hell out of each other and big old jet airliners are being blown out of the sky and the Russians can't get along with themselves and 21,000 children die around the world every day and the ecology is all shot and the bee population is being wiped out, two kids are going to flirt and hold hands and exchange a sweet little kiss on the sidewalk in front of the house down the street.
The good parts, somehow, survive.