Sunday July 6, 2003 11:57 PM
ID 2003

I got up surprisingly early Friday morning considering how late (uh, early actually) I'd stayed up Thursday.

The reason I was up was twofold. First, I was writing which is not exactly a swift process for me, though I was working far more quickly than usual as the words flowed smoothly from brane to keyboard with minimal rewriting or editing required. The second reason my bedtime was more extreme than usual was the Twilight Zone marathon on The SciFi channel.

The original Twilight Zone is one of those shows I love but rarely get to see, like the first Bob Newhart show. Their not only excellent television, they are timeless- perhaps offering a glimpse of life in a previous ere, but never becoming dated. When TVLand had a Bob Newhart marathon, I bought videocassettes just for that occasion. SciFi's Twilight Zone marathon snuck up on my unawares and therefore I was afflicted with the 'just one more episode" disease far into Friday morning, much farther than I'd intended.

I was, nonetheless out of the shower and dressed by 9:30 am. Any day off work is a good day and I wanted to start mine early. We were supposed to be at Ruth's folks house around noon since they planned on eating about 1:30 and Ruth was going to make her devilled eggs there and like it or not (though I used to like it) I've become the griller for the family holiday get-togethers.

I don't remember exactly how the time was dissipated between the moment I came downstairs and the time we left for the Denby's at 11:40, but I know it was pleasant. We just kind of hung around and had a nice morning together in a way that we rarely get to. I do remember, though, that Isaiah watched his very first ever episode of the Twilight Zone, as the marathon continued through the 4th.

He's at the very fun age where his powerful imagination is making the transition from being scared of a lot of things that aren't really scary into being fascinated and drawn to everything that is "spooky". He loved the Twilight Zone which was just the perfect level of spooky-but-not-too-scary to hit the spot of his new appetite. I think this is good for him. I remember going through a similar phase in my development and I think it's very empowering to be able to deal with your fears and conquer them.

Soon it was time for us to go, though long before it was Ruth commented that it seemed later than the clock indicated. I felt the same way, but was savoring it. On holidays like this we usually don't get up early enough to be able to spend time together before we have to start loading up the van and getting ready to go. I think we need to take note and continue in the future to get out of bed that hour or two earlier than we used to so we can sneak in some just-us family time before we have to join the rest of the gang.

Everyone had a good time at the Denby's house that afternoon. Everyone but me, that is. I'm not certain but I suspect it was the extreme humidity that made getting the stupid charcoal to burn almost impossible. I spent almost an hour coaxing and cajoling those lousy hunks of compressed wood to combust and by the time they did I was wiped out. I'm sure the heat index was in the triple digits. I know the temperature was in the 90s and I'd bet the humidity was too. Let me interject here, please, that people who have never lived where the humidity is as much if not more of a factor in the heat index than the temperature itself do not know the full meaning of summertime. Please don't say that as a midwesterner I know nothing of the scorching desert. I've been there and experienced it at the height of the summer. 115° in the shade is a walk in the park when the humidity is in single digits. I say let anyone who would make such a claim come visit me on a typical July day here on the banks of the Mississippi when the temperature may not reach the mystical 100° point, but the humidity does on a regular basis. If you still thought the desert was worse, then I'd say you'd be welcome to your opinion, wrong though it may be.

I didn't try a hamburger or a hot dog, but the chicken breasts were excellent thanks to a newly acquired dry rub from Ruth's favorite restaurant in Kansas City. As I mentioned above, though, I was wiped out even before the meat touched the grill and though the chicken was good, it wasn't good enough to be declared worth the effort I expent to cook it. Everybody else thought I did a marvelous job, though so me energy wasn't wasted. After lunch I pretty much dozed on the couch inside till it was time for us to go home.

When we arrived back at our house, I once again lay down on the couch. This time, though, I had a fan directly on me and a good book close to hand. I rested in this fashion till dark set in to the constant requests from Isaiah to "put the movie in now".

Thursday evening, when we were out to dinner, I'd told Isaiah that if he was very good all that evening and all day Friday that we'd watch Treasure Planet. Friday night. Ruth's aunt had gotten it a couple of weeks before and I wanted to watch it before Isaiah did to make sure it met my standards. I watched it last weekend and was pleasantly surprised, so I'd been waiting a week to surprise Isaiah with the treat of watching it.

Of course, he'd been thrilled and promised to do his best to be good so we could watch it and he did. Every time he'd start to drift into stormy waters, I'd mention the movie and he'd straighten right up. It's marvelous to watch his maturity and reasoning powers develop and it's especially gratifying to see him gain new levels of self control.

He had been far more than good enough to watch the movie and I was looking forward to enjoying it with him. I really had found it to be surprisingly good and I knew he'd love it. He'd told me that when we watched it he wanted us to turn off the lights and eat popcorn and pretend it was a movie theater, so when he began bugging me to put the tape in I had to point out that we couldn't pretend it was a movie theater until the sun had fully gone down.

Once the sun had retired, though, there was no more reason to delay and as Ruth popped us some popcorn I turned off all the lights but the one I leave on when we're converting the family room to the Waggener Monoplex. When the popcorn was ready and Isaiah and I both had cold drinks handy, Ruth went upstairs to read and I pressed "Play" on the VCR. Actually, I pressed "FFwd" until the timer reached exactly 7:00 minutes- the time I'd noted on my previous solo viewing that skipped over all the trailers for garbage kiddie movies that Isaiah need not be exposed to, then I pressed "Play".

Isaiah was so enthralled from the very beginning that I had to keep reminding him to eat some popcorn with me. He was almost hypnotized and barely moved. His eyes never left the screen as he asked "Is that a bad guy, Daddo?" or "What's he going to do now?". There were spaceships and robots and pirates and action and adventure and just about everything he could want in one movie.

It was so good, in fact, that I was able to keep my eyelids separated for about 75% of it. Mere moments after I began to doze the first time, he commanded "Wake wake up and watch all this with me, Daddo!". I wanted too, but soon I was dozing again and I guess the action must have ramped up a notch cause the didn't bother to try to wake me again until I awoke on my own just as the movie was ending.

He must have found the movie very fulfilling because he didn't even bother to ask for a story when, as the tape rewound, I tucked him into bed. That was fine with me. I had just enough consciousness and energy left to get my own self into bed and draw closure to our Independence day 2003.