“Alacrity” means “brisk and cheerful readiness; lively, eager” and was the suggestion of DonofallTrades (who claims to be master of none, but I find this statement suspect).
Train trip! Road trip! With Dad!
Despite hopping my first flight as a two-week old infant, cross-country road trips, airports awaiting the outcome of another game as our playoff advancement fate rested in the glove of another team, I had never actually traveled with my father.
Our itinerary: Houston to New Orleans via train, an evening with my father’s clan, returning to Houston in a passed-down station wagon too ancient to be considered an inheritance.
I packed appropriate accoutrements: crayons, books, favorite doll du jour. My mother added another suitcase of board games, activity books, horrifying my father who deemed toys unnecessary. In response to my mother’s perplexed query as to what his six-year-old daughter would do on a 10-hour train ride, my startled father replied:
“We’ll sleep, read, and look out the window.”
And thus my father and I embarked on our first — and last — journey together.
We settled into our facing window seats. I launched into a series of inquires as to what the uniformed conductors did, if they were not actually driving the train.
According to my father, the questions did not stop until we arrived in his hometown.
New Orleans, dinnertime, I ate alongside the adults, raw oysters, shrimp cocktail, cracked crab, me burbling with tales of flat vistas populated by cows and cattle and corn with blithe assumption of Grandmother Marie’s interest. Uncle Johnny — my father’s much older brother, a whole generation of history between them — arrived unannounced, his salesman bulk hovering, grabbed my fork, stabbed my crab, winked-wiggled me off the chair, proceeded to eat my dinner.
Never trusted that man.
Dad did not follow Mom’s road trip embarkation protocols. Puzzling, but I was capable of loading a car and inquiring of Grandmother Marie as to the availability of munch-ables.
Like Mother, like Son.
Resigned to dinner-pilfering relatives and snack-stingy immediate family, I settled into the passenger seat, a good little co-pilot, just as my mother instructed, prepared to initiate rounds of “Little Red Caboose”, “I Spy”, steady streams of spirited landscape commentary.
Driving with dad proved to be a more solitary, contemplative experience.
Attuned to the cadences of wheels, asphalt, window-framed vistas rushing by, I said, “You’re going too fast.”
He glanced at the speedometer, but his innate competitive athlete nature could not be quelled. He launched into a dissertation on Road Rules, including “keeping up with traffic”. I could not believe Mom would keep such secrets from me. I assumed he would appreciate my counsel, as he was accustomed to riding the team bus, while mom and I had driven through most every state in the country.
“Speeders go to jail.”
My father did not look at me in the stretched moments between the sirens, highway patrol pulling us to the shoulder in a spray of gravel, slow ride to the police station, ash-colored dust in our wake.
I cut the chattychatchat, ever my mother’s daughter, accustomed to athletes reliving a bobbled catch, bad throw, unsuccessful slide stealing home.
Handwritten with enthusiasm at Madam Geneva (noho) and the dearly departed Beagle (east village).
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