The playground air is foggy with pollen and clouds of dust from the touch football game that is played every day, giving grass seed no hope of reaching for the sky. The kids’ white uniform shirts are uniformly smudged and dirty, and I can almost hear twenty mothers reminding themselves to add bleach to the grocery list.
My daughter runs up, delighted, flushed, and sweaty from digging for buried unicorn eggs. Dirt speckles her nose and blends with her freckles, giving me a glimpse of her face at sixteen. I hug her tight, inhale the earthy scent of her ponytail, and tell her, “I love you.”
Near the bars, my son is being either hugged or heimliched by a pigtailed blonde girl in a navy jumper. She lets go and he springs away into a game of tag.
My friend Susannah and I talk, easy conversation that flows along on the swirling currents of playground games and children’s shouts.
Then the words from the next bench drift down to us.
“I mean, what is twerking, anyway? I’m going to have to Google it.” She begins tapping on an iPhone, and before I mean to move, I’m on my feet.
“I know. I feel so out of it,” says another woman on the bench.
“Seriously? Y’all don’t know what twerking is?” It pops out of my mouth. No filter.
“No,” says the first woman. “I’m looking it up.”
“Don’t bother,” I say. “It’s basically just rump-shaking. Like this.” Then I bend, put my hands on my knees, and commence shaking it like a Polaroid picture. Or that milkshake that brings the boys to the yard. At any rate, my humps, my humps, my lovely lady lumps, they are a-jiggling.
“Oh. My. God,” she says, covering her mouth.
“I know,” I say, standing. “It’s pretty tacky. But that’s the tame version. If you’re Miley, you bend all the way over, like this.” I stretch my hands down, yoga-like, to my shins, and shake my buns. “Bonus points if you stick your tongue out.”
Standing up, I pause. “But her tongue is about the grossest thing I’ve ever seen. I just want her to roll the thing back up and stuff it.”
Reflecting later on their quickly hidden facial expressions, I think that perhaps this is why I have so few “appropriate” friends.
Eh. To hell with it. I find a mirror and work the twerk. The junk in my trunk is shaking, except these days I drive a minivan, and it doesn’t technically have a trunk, but that’s ok, because that means you can fit MORE junk in what isn’t technically the trunk. Then I burst into unexpected laughter at the girl in the mirror, for she is suddenly a girl, dancing as she did in the 90s in clubs with questionable music and ice luges.
Does anything ever really change?