This morning was the Fourth of July parade. We usually watch it at the end of our block because its a place at which the parade route turns, so you can see the floats from the front first and then the side. It’s good for my husband because he takes a really long time to snap a photo, so it gives him an extra couple of minutes to get the shot.
When we walked over to our usual corner, there was a row of nine empty chairs that had been set up by a man hosting a party nearby, but his guests weren’t going to take their seats until the parade started. The line of chairs wasn’t straight. The whole row was pretty far back from the roadway, where most other people had set up their seats. The line also veered off at an angle, making it easy for us to put our chairs in front of two of his. But it put us in the vexing position of being annoyed that someone would reserve such a large space along the parade route — without even sitting there to hold their place — and yet in putting our chairs in front of their’s, we were violating some unwritten law of civility. We decided to live with the consequences.
Oddly, the man hosting the party had a yard sale a year ago, and while he clearly had a lot of wood slat folding chairs, he sold a few of them at the sale. Bruce and I had bought two of them, and those were the chairs we had brought to the parade.
When the parade started, a man who had been seated next to us decided to leave to join his family across the street, so Bruce and I moved our chairs down, hoping to get out of the way of the people behind us. As soon as we moved them, the host of the party came running over.
“Excuse me,” he said sharply. “What are you doing with my chairs?!”
“These are our chairs. You sold them to us last year,” I said.
He looked at me blankly, and then turned on his heels and walked away. If he felt any
‘It wouldn’t hurt to say ‘I’m sorry,’ ” Bruce said, as he walked off.
The parade had the customary line up of vintage cars, clowns on bicycles, baton twirlers, marching bands and kazoo and the bagpipe players. And as is customary, parade participants would throw candy to the crowds. But it’s always a delicate balance. If you’re not sitting next to children, the people on the floats don’t throw candy, no matter how enthusiastically you wave or loud you clap as they drive by. If you are seated sit next to children, they throw candy, but you then find yourself in a heated competition with a bunch of six-year olds over who can get to the candy first. It would be easy to elbow a small child in the ear and get to the tootsie roll pop first, but it’s one of those situations in life where if you win, you’ve lost. Nobody likes a bully. Still, I gave it the old college try. I’d leave the laffy taffy and the red and white mints to the children, but whenever someone threw a “Werther’s Original” toffee or Skittles, even a tootsie roll, I’d fly out of my seat and root around on the ground, trying to reach the candy before the kids seated next to me. The competition became so fierce, if a leaf fluttered to the ground, we were all out of our seats. Were it not for the fact that my shorts kept getting caught on one of the slats in my seat so that I wound up dragging my chair with me for a few feet every time I lept up for candy, I would have accumulated a much larger pile.
The most curious group to participate in the parade was one called “Rainbow Girls.” They all wore orange t-shirts with the slogan, “Rainbow Girls Get Ready for Life.” It was an odd juxtaposition with their performance, which you couldn’t really hear because they were all either singing different songs or different verses of the same song.
One of the next groups was a local dance company that stopped and did a little show as they rounded the corner in front of us. The teachers performed the routine they had practiced in class perfectly, while their young students did something that slightly resembled it. I kept watching one particular teacher who was very pregnant. Her legs were swaying in and out like she was doing the charleston while her arms flapped up and down like wings. Only her bulbous belly remained still. She refrained from jumping up and down, lest she harm the baby or give birth to it right there.
As the parade ended, we folded up our chairs and started to walk home when we were approached by the man who’d insinuated we’d stolen his chairs.
“I’m sorry about before. I thought those were my chairs,” he said.
“No problem,” Bruce said.
It’s nice when you’ve been wronged to have that person then apologize. It’s as if the world has righted itself in some small way, and everyone is good.
As we walked home, I sucked on a purple lollipop, a fruit of my ill-gotten gains.