Stevieslaw: Cousin Myron and the boys of summer.

It was the kind of spring day that has you smiling, singing and whistling in tune with the birds and the bees. The neighborhood children could feel it and, if you were paying attention, you could see it in the kids’ eyes as they walked to school that morning. The school year was drawing to a close and the endless days of summer vacation would soon begin.
Even I, old and retired, could feel it in my bones. I ached for those summer days of no responsibilities and no cares–just play, play, play. I am still active. I play tennis and do yoga and Pilates. I lift weights at various gyms, or take a turn on the treadmill or the rowing machine. But each of these things is part of my too busy schedule. And each of these things requires a coach or a personal trainer, or specialized equipment or a carefully prepared court. I’m happy to have these activities, but I thought, when was the last time I did anything with the spontaneity of a child? When was the last time that a ball that bounced coupled with a stoop or a stick or a hoop or even a crack in the sidewalk was more than enough to inspire a game that would involve me entirely?
The phone interrupted my reverie. It was Marsha, Cousin Myron’s long suffering spouse. For those who haven’t yet met Myron, he is my red-haired, raw tempered cousin. A math genius, who left Thomas Jefferson HS early, he made a fortune betting on the ponies, was the bane of the IRS and at one point had run for President.
Marsha and I rarely spoke.
“Do you have any idea why your annoying cousin would take a saw to my broom and leave me only the broom head,” she asked?
“So you couldn’t fly off on it,” I thought unkindly.
“No. I don’t,” I answered instead.
“You’re lying,” she said correctly. “Tell your cousin that he is in all kinds of trouble,” she said as she hung up.
I found the boys of summer—four aging children and Cousin Myron, on Bristol Street—the least traveled of the neighborhood roads. They had set up the stick ball game between the manhole covers in the middle of the block, as tradition requires. I took the sawed-off broom handle, which is far better than a Louisville Slugger for hitting a rubber ball, spit on my hands for luck and turned to face the pitcher with the best fast ball in all of Brownsville, Brooklyn, back in 1956—my mind-reading Cousin, Myron.

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