Monday, January 09, 2006

Saturday in the Park

Might as well keep up the string of bad song references, right? And hey, this one's even Chicago-related. ;-)

Saturday I had two of my little neighbor fellas over for a pizza party. This year's pizza was much more prefab than last year's. Since I knew these two guys had no interest in watching dough rise, I got pre-made pizza crusts at Dominick's, pre-shredded cheese and pre-cut pepperoni. Then I discovered I had to whip up tomato sauce, since all the sauce in my house was veggie-friendly and these guys aren't. I didn't think they were up for red pepper and pesto or spinach and cheese spaghetti sauce. I was out of sausage and mushroom or the burgundy/steak one. (Yes, I'm a yuppie, and proud of it!)

So I chopped an onion, opened a can of crushed tomatoes, and cooked up pizza sauce in 20 minutes. Then I called my fine young carnivore friends and we put the sauce on the pizza, laid the cheese on thick, and made smiley faces with the pepperoni slices.

Winter is hard. Their parents are broke. Christmas was "boring" this year, the older one told me. He got OK presents but not as good as last year. Their dad isn't working right now--he's seasonal--and their mom's boss is being mean and cheated her out of some money. She asked me for work. I hooked her up with a neighbor to clean the house. I'd have had her clean mine but somebody else asked me already.

The boys helped me take some old clothes to the Salvation Army around the corner, and then we went shopping. We found a glow-in-the-dark soccer ball for less than $2.50. I thought that was a worthy purchase, so we got it. After I paid, the littler one asked, "Are you mad at me?"

"No, why would I be mad at you?" I asked back.

"Cause it's 'spensive."

I told him it was OK and not to worry. We took the ball to Cornell Park and played on the tennis court, because the fields were too muddy. The ball needs air but we had fun kicking it around anyway, until the younger one tried to steal the ball from his brother. His foot slipped off the ball and he fell and banged his elbow.

"I didn't make him do it," big brother announced.

"I know."

We took him home and got some ice. His brother told me about the time he went swimming in the park pool and some of the black kids started messing with him and he got in a fight. Now he doesn't go to Cornell Park much.

Later that night, after those two went home, Peter Pan from down the block brought a slightly different crew of Lost Boys to play soccer out back, including two black guys. First integrated soccer game in my yard-whoo-hoo!! The boys asked me to play to keep the teams even, so I played goalie. The neighbors were very nice about letting us jump the fence or run around to get the ball. Our team lost the first game and won the second 15-14.

After game two, I threw them out with lots of high-fives for my teammates. They left still high from all the running. Their post-game trash talk wafted back as they disappeared down the sidewalk. Sad to report, I was sore the next day. At least the old grey mare can still block a shot once in a while.

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