ARTHUR TANNEY - BUNGALOW LIFE

WITH ONE WEEK TO GO

What little was left on that weekend, but to savor the smell of the fresh cut grass for the last time in summer? You chanced to wear shorts one more time before your mom packed them away in a carton to return home with dad on his last city-run before Labor Day dawned. Maybe you slept late that weekend, secure in the certainty of the heavy comforter that you knew mom would momentarily strip from the bed for its ritual washing before it was stowed away in moth balls awaiting next Memorial Day weekend. Oh, those mothballs. Your first sighting of those boxes of faded blue cardboard elicited anger, then denial, and then sadness. Like Ed Sullivan on a Sunday night, once the mothballs had appeared, could school be far behind? To this day, thirty years forward, mothballs bring you down.

Camp had concluded that Friday with the traditional prom---a local band playing badly executed covers of The Beatles, the Stones and The Who, and a plate of warm cold cuts and stale rye bread. You'd danced with the girl (boy?) who'd arrived with, but somewhere between the cold cuts and the cake you wound up slow dancing with the person you'd had a secret crush on all summer, finally discovering her (his?) school begins a week earlier than yours, and his family is pulling up stakes in just 3 short days. At eleven years old you notice for the first time that in life, timing is all.

Turning over in bed and stretching in the morning, you count you'll be able to awaken in your precious bed just eight more times before returning to the city. Unless, of course, you succeed in convincing your parents to stay the extra day next weekend, and go home on Monday. That will buy an extra 24 hours. You know your chances are 50-50 at best.

Your mom spies you as you leave the bungalow and chastises your selection of shorts. The radio, tuned to an Ellenville station, predicts temperatures not reaching past 70, and that's in the valley. You are sure to freeze, she admonishes. But you're already gone, bounding out to find your friends and get on with your day, launching briskly and sadly, but resolutely, into the final week of the only summer of your eleventh year. You've got eight days to go, and you're determined to ensure that each one is as full and special as the sixty that have come before.

Your countdown begins, as your last week takes wings.

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