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Gene Royer

Gene Royer is a staunch conservative. He is also a Policy Governance ® consultant and writer. He is the author of School Board Leadership 2000 - The Things Staff Didn't Tell You At Orientation and his international practice is based in Houston

    by Gene Royer

    June 12, 2003

    I often mention my little buddy Ulysis from El Salvador, whom I've known since about 1995. In fact, it's been six years since the day he and his brother Archimedes came to our Memorial Day celebration to help me paint, and Archimedes fell through the grape arbor astraddle a sawhorse. The boy recovered, however not without some difficulty in speaking.

    But this year's Memorial Day did not involve anything more risky than BBQ and cool beverages, as the neighbors were invited to gather beneath my front carport and celebrated this nation's greatness. The two brothers came early to help me set up the tables, build the charcoal fires and stick all the flags in the ground.

    Two young and attractive Mexican women from down the street were the first to arrive. They left bowls of baked beans and traditional, south-of-the-border food and then quickly returned to their houses. I was puzzled by that until I noticed that Ulysis and Archimedes were also missing.

    Presently all four mysteriously reappeared. Ulysis seemed less energetic, and Archimedes's stuttering had nearly disappeared. It was a miracle.

    Luis and Whatshisname, the gay Filipinos next door, rented an inflatable, red white and blue playhouse for the kids to bounce around in; and Leroy Jackson, who lives on the other side, brought a clean Porta-Potty from his jobsite. It kept the foot traffic going and coming along one steady path as the day progressed. We put Old Glory on the front door, and it proved to be the most favorite area.

    Steve Robertson, the big black man who lives in the house behind me, brought his customary giant, seedless watermelon-thoroughly iced down--and a half-dozen cantaloupes, which he hollowed out and filled with vodka and orange juice. My wife handed out straws to the adults.

    Mr Tran, the restaurateur, furnished links of jalapeno sausage and a nice, done-to-perfection brisket. His wife was with him. She speaks no English but engages everyone in conversation anyway. She captured me for an incomprehensible monologue, which had to do with the cast on her foot. I understood from Mr Tran that she broke it while playing soccer with the neighbor boy and accidentally kicked a pop-up sprinkler head.

    I made a sympathetic sound and somberly told her I had just undergone a colonscopy the week before and was experiencing some rectal bleeding. Without a clue, she matched my funeraled expression and said two of the few English words she knew from watching Ozzie Osborne. "Fuck you!"

    I nodded and got her a new straw for her cantaloupe.

    Jack and Edna Potter arrived and shared a brisket sandwich. You may recall me mentioning that while helping her husband restore a VW Baja in their garage, Edna slipped and sat down roughly on an oil can spout. The day after she got out of the hospital, the VW rolled off the ramp and across her foot. So, she was having trouble standing-as well as sitting.

    They didn't stay long.

    The Washington boy who dropped out of school, was home on his first leave after Marine Boot. He wore his uniform and said he was leaving for the Philippines next week. We took his picture with Luis and Whatshisname as they waved flags overhead.

    Two kids from a Muslim family down the street were having fun in the inflated playhouse, and Mr Singh from India bounced his grandson on his knee, while his wife pretended to understand Mrs Tran and tried to get a whiff of what she was sipping.

    Haresh Patel, who has the monthly garage sale two streets over, was kind enough to bring six folding chairs and some more flags. He said if I would buy the chairs he would send his son over the next day to mow the grass. The yard looks nice.

    As it turned out, the Potters and my good friend Cason Coolie from Louisiana were the only other Caucasians. And half the people were not citizens. No one else seemed to notice.


    © 2003 Tocqevillian Magazine