They were kind of hard to miss. A stark white gym shirt, sky blue shorts, and a big navy blue nylon carrying bag hung out to dry on a cord hung across the living room/dining room/master bedroom.
Maybe he left them behind on purpose. I wasn't sure. While he has the prototypical build of a basketball player, he's really not that athletically inclined. In fact he hates phys ed and often "forgets" his gym uniform. After breaking his big toe last summer, he had now just about finished milking the last ounce out of the fractured bone in the way of excused gym class absences.
Yet it was possible that, as he ran out the door on his way to school, the shorts and shirts standing there with nobody inside them just totally escaped his field of vision. Maybe he simply forgot them. So with that possibility in mind, I snatched the clothes off the line, bagged them, and headed out the door in pursuit of my son Jiro in hopes that I could catch him before he arrived at the gates of Craneview Junior High School.
After pumping my bicycle pedals as fast as I could, I finally caught sight of him and with the last breathe in my body cried out, "Pumpkin" (that's what I call him sometimes).
When I got no reaction, I stopped dead in my tire tracks out of concern that I was perhaps chasing down the wrong kid. That could have been problematic but after sizing him up again from the back I figured it had to be Jiro. There just aren't that many kids attending Craneview Junior High who tower above six feet. So I pulled up along side of him to get a better look but he still didn't seem to notice me for some odd reason. It was as if I had become invisible.
"Did you forget something?" I asked. I still didn't get any answer. His eyes were riveted on the road ahead that led toward the school and he kept moving forward as if he were in some sort of trance. I had never seen someone so intent on getting an education. Then I saw the light. I was being ignored!
That's when I looked around me and realized where I was. We were but A BLOCK AWAY FROM THE SCHOOL! I was suddenly overcome with the distinct feeling that I had been there before and I had. Only it was my father running on the heels of my shoes and calling out, "Hey Pumpkin, did you forget something?" It was within earshot and eyesight of every kid from kingdom come and I almost died from embarrassment.
Now here I was years later breaking all sorts of junior high kid protocols myself. It had to have been absolutely mortifying for little Jiro but it was too late. I had come full circle and there was just no turning back. Keeping pace with the lad and looking straight ahead I instructed him to carefully take the bag containing the gym uniform from the bicycle without so much as glancing in my direction. After both of us executed the no- less-than acrobatic maneuver with the precision of a couple of characters ripped directly from the pages of a John le Carre novel I pedaled off into the distance without ever looking back, not even once.
If there had been a cop around to witness the suspicious hand off I'm sure we would have been hauled in for attempted espionage or some other nefarious need. Luckily there wasn't and we weren't but instead just hopefully learned a valuable lesson. While memories can haunt you forever, some things are best left forgotten.
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