Throwing Dirt – A Guest Post by Amanda Callendrier   Leave a comment

There are clods of dirt on the roof of the Audi.

The Audi is always perfectly clean, and something of an incongruity. It’s the fire engine red of a Ferrari, but it’s a station wagon. It possesses a sporty engine to match its color and enough trunk space to hold the gear of small children.

Let’s rewind to the night before. I return home from work late, and it’s already dark outside. There are a row of condos on the hill overlooking our house, and there’s a noisy party going on at one of them. Mom and Dad are clearly out of town, and the back porch appears to have been taken over by their high school son and a dozen of his friends. The music blares loudly but not out of control, and I look at them more out of envy than annoyance. I disappear back into a home where nighttime means dinner and baths, stories and bedtime.  We may watch a DVD if we’re feeling really adventurous.

The next day, there are clods of dirt on the roof of the Audi.

How, one might ask, could dirt end up on the roof of the car? Particularly on the roof of a car that is washed a couple of times per week. There are a few more on the car port, bombs of green and brown that had fallen a few feet short of the car. A quick look around for potential trajectory leads my line of vision to the wreck of the porch above me.

The partygoers are eating breakfast. It is eleven o’clock in the morning. The boys are wearing boxers and no shirts, even though it’s cold outside. The girls are buried in hooded sweatshirts, long hair falling in their cups of coffee.

I make a big show of walking around the car and putting my hands on my hips. I huff. I say, “WHO COULD HAVE DONE THIS?”

My children pick up the charge, suckers for anything with intrigue, “WHO DID THIS TO OUR CAR?”

My husband comes outside, and we wait for him to notice that something is wrong with his baby. In case he doesn’t, I stir the pot by pointing it out, which moves things along. He doesn’t look as angry as I expect, and this is somehow disappointing. We all get in the car and head out for a quiet, family Sunday lunch.

On our way down our street, he suddenly turns sharply to the right to take the steep bank up to the condos.

“Dadddyy…..” say the children, clearly excited by the possibility of a dispute.

He wordlessly parks the car and storms away. I have some moments of doubt, wondering if children were playing outside the previous day, if I had pointed the Adult finger of blame too quickly.

He returns about a minute later.

“Well?” I ask.

“He didn’t deny it,” said my husband. “I told him not to let it happen again.”

Telling them not to do it again just seemed like they were getting away with something.

“I also said that the next time, I would come up and kick his ass.”

We start to snicker. This sounds better, both menacing and on a level a teenager might appreciate. Evidently, the kid agreed fully that this was the last time. He might have even used the word “sir.”

We wonder for a moment how we became those old folks it’s fun to torment on the street. Throwing things at someone’s house, at a certain age, isn’t malicious so much as it is a solution to boredom. I wondered if they were actually aiming for our gutters, and the car got in the way. Cheers probably ensued. It may have looked like a basketball game. It’s hard to begrudge them that. We live out in the country where there isn’t a lot to do, except throw dirt off your front porch. Hey, maybe we would feel like throwing dirt too if we could stay up late enough to drink more than one beer. No one’s ass was ever getting kicked, but our young neighbor doesn’t know that…and maybe that will make the game more interesting for them the next time.

Amanda Callendrier teaches composition and coordinates the Writing Center at the Geneva, Switzerland campus of Webster University. She blogs for Skirt!.

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Posted December 22, 2011 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Aging, Life Lessons, Parenting

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