I led the early guests around back to the makeshift tables and variety of games we’d setup for the days activities. The swimming pool was the biggest attractor. It was one of those above ground sorts with five foot high walls made out of aluminum with a stick and peel laminate plated on top to give the appearance of wood. The logic escaped me as I could never figure how anyone would think a ring of wood fencing would hold water. I guess you weren’t supposed to think that much and I reckon most of my peers, neighbors and anyone else alive didn’t. All anyone cared about was jumping into the water and getting cooled off and it’s not like I didn’t have that same care. It was summer, just outside of Houston and that means hot enough to melt feet to cement and humid enough to feel like rain without a cloud in the sky.
Mom got the social side of things going with a punch bowl full of 7Up and raspberry sherbet. Nothing like a cold refreshment to loosen up tongues and a load of sugar to get people jumping around like idiots. I suppose I should’ve been happy it wasn’t Kool-Aid like it would have been a year or two earlier.
As more and more of the neighborhood showed up I kept looking for Diana, but despite a couple of girls who wore their hair the same, there wasn’t any sign of her. I’d spent most of the week since our shopping trip trying not to get my hopes up for her to show. It didn’t really matter though, cause she was the only one I wanted to see and no matter how much I told myself I didn’t care, the truth was I did.
By noon I gave up watching the gate and decided it was time to jump in the pool and cool off. It was packed with everyone under the age of twenty and I bet it was probably pushing its capacity as the water was slopping over the edges every time somebody moved. I picked a spot close to the edge and the ladder so I could see what was going on in the yard and could get out fast if Diana showed. It was around that time I realized Becky wasn’t around either.
Mom and Dad were hanging out on the patio with the next door neighbors. They were drinking beer and laughing way too loud about things that probably weren’t even funny, not that I was really listening. Dad was saying something about not understanding how a girl can take two hours to put on her clothes for the day when Becky stepped out of the house and let the screen door slam shut.
She was wearing much the same outfit as she was the day she arrived. The cutoffs were just as stringy and the tube top covered just as little and I don’t think there was a guy under twenty or over twenty who wasn’t staring while she traipsed out on the patio. Come to think of it, there were quite a few of the ladies staring too. In fact, it might have been a mirage on account of the heat, but I swear I saw steam coming out of Mom’s ears.
Dad spoke first while Becky was slopping punch into a cup and onto the patio. “Do we need to have another talk about slamming doors?”
I could see Becky rolling her eyes and shaking her head, but fortunately for her, her back was mostly to Dad. She stepped off the patio, heading toward the pool and said, “I’m pretty sure we covered it last time.”
Mom had apparently anticipated Becky’s course and stepped off the patio herself, grabbing hold of Becky’s arm and stopping her. “Don’t you walk away from your Uncle when he’s talking to you.”
“Geez,” Becky said, looking at the blue sky above us all, “I thought this was supposed to be a party.”
Mom ignored her. “And what the devil are you wearing? Where’s the bathing suit I bought you?”
Becky laughed. “At the bottom of a trash can. You know, where it belongs.”
“I certainly hope not for your sake,” Mom said, dragging Becky with her toward the door, “because if your not back out here wearing it in the next ten minutes, you won’t be sitting comfortable the rest of the summer.”
“It’s ugly and I’m not wearing it,” Becky said, standing her ground in front of the screen door.
Dad joined them. “Well you aren’t going to wear that top or those shorts either. So, you can either go inside and put on your swimsuit like your Aunt told you or you can run around naked with a red backside. The choice is yours.”
I’m sure there were some people hoping she’d do otherwise, but Becky decided to go inside. Of course, she threw some pretty nasty looks around first and I’m pretty sure she gave my parents the finger. Lucky for her, I think I’m the only one who noticed.