I have already introduced Tess and need to also introduce her little brother, second-born Sam. Sam was different: nothing pleased him more than playing with his big Sis. So much so that instead of crashing cars, catching bugs or cavorting and wrestling he preferred the more gentile arts: dolls, playing dress up with Tess’ clothing, dolls, makeup….you get it.
So intent were his parents that Sam not be chastised or judged for his choices, a visit from my cousin from Texas (enter proud gay man and accomplished landscape architect) presented the perfect opportunity for Sam to become, let’s say, familiar with an alternative to mainstream macho. Ah, the wonder of progressive parenting.
On this day Sam and Steve (said cousin) had spent a pleasant afternoon in the backyard learning about weeds, flowers, and the proper way to propagate seedlings complete with demos and ready-to-sprout sunflowers. Sam was thrilled! He carefully placed his collection of anticipatory experiments lined perfectly on the deck: tiny egg crate pots holding mysterious promise. Tickled pink he was.
After a BBQ featuring Sam’s favorite, tube steak, I watched Mom Sherry place his cake on the table. Sam and I were seated across from each other and his little face shone with pride and the joy that only a 6 year old can bestow on these occasions that is all about them!
I noticed the single, large candle in the middle. This candle was fat and colored with swirling, brightly colored design. It immediately reminded me of times past, the glorious 60’s. Remember when everything during that time was infused with that convoluted and whirling design? Yup. We called it ‘psychedelic, man.’ I eagerly proceeded to explain to Sam about the ‘way back time’ and how this cake-topper resembled this fashionable artistic formula.
‘Psychedelic, Sam, that is what we called this.’ All swirly and pretty: this is called psychedelic!
I eagerly watched Sam as he listened and processed this information. But something was wrong. His face was showing a decidedly uncertain and confused demeanor. Sherry and I waited for a clue as to what might be bothering him about this perfectly sound and informative offering. He sat forward, leaned in, pointed that precious 6 year old finger on the top of that taper and said:
‘Yeah, but Aunt Deb, around here we just call them candles.’