WONDERFUL DAY IN
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
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
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
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.
GOD BLESS AMERICA
2003 Tocqevillian Magazine