My God, she says. I feel like I’ve gone through a car wash.I laugh, or force myself to, because it’s not something I’d normally laugh at.What about you? she says to Scottie. How did you make out?I’m a boy, Scottie says. Look at me.Sand has gotten into the bottom of her suit, creating a huge bulge. She scratches at the bulge. I’m going to go to work now, she says. I think she’s impersonating me and that Mrs. Speer is getting an unrealistic, humiliating glimpse.Scottie, I say. Take that out.It must be fun to have girls, Mrs. Speer says.She looks at the ocean and I see that she’s looking at Alex sunbathing on the floating raft. Sid leans over Alex and puts his mouth to hers. She raises a hand to his head and for a moment I forget it’s my daughter out there and think of how long it has been since I’ve been kissed or kissed like that.Or maybe you have your hands full, Mrs. Speer says.No, no, I say. It’s great and it is, I suppose, though I feel like I’ve just acquired them and don’t know yet. They’ve been together for ages. I gesture to Alex and Sid. I don’t understand if they’re a couple or if this is how all kids in high school act these days.Mrs. Speer looks at me curiously, as if she’s about to say something, but she doesn’t.And boys. I gesture to her little dorks. They must keep you busy.They’re a handful. But they’re at such a fun age. It’s such a joy.She gazes out at her boys. Her expression does little to convince me that they’re such a joy. I wonder how many times parents have these dull conversations with one another and how much they must hide. They’re so goddamn hyper, I’d do anything to inject them with a horse tranquilizer. They keep insisting that I watch what they can do, but I truly don’t give a fuck. How hard is it to jump off a diving board?My girls are messed up, I want to say. One talks dirty to her own reflection. Did you do that when you were growing up?Your girls seem great, too, she says. How old are they?Ten and eighteen. And yours?Ten and twelve.Oh, I say. Great.Your younger one sure is funny, she says. I mean, not funny. I meant entertaining.Oh, yeah. That’s Scottie. She’s a riot.
Kaui Hart Hemmings