Like the build-it-and-they-will-come ballfield of “Field of Dreams” fame, they came. It wasn’t just old friends. It was work colleagues, people with whom myself or my wife had sat in a conference room once 12 years ago to hear the CEO explain via video link why the company couldn’t contribute to our 401K’s that year because earnings hadn’t met plan, and never saw again, until they showed up in our driveway, green and white license plates glinting in the sun like eco-shields of an invading Roman army. Relatives came, not just our kids and their clingy kids, but nieces, nephews and cousins of whom Bonnie has several thousand, courtesy of her Mormon parents and sister.
It wouldn’t be so bad if we could just feed and bed them. Oh no, the adults want to hike; the kids want to hang at the pool, scrape their knees and get nibbled by little fishies in Mill Creek or float the river. So if I have anything important to do with my life like watch reality TV, mow the lawn, or practice a fiddle tune I can’t play right after 20 years of trying, I can’t – I’ve got to take so-and-so to Delicate Arch or spend the day trudging up and down Poison Spider Mesa.
Worse, unlike baseball, there’s no ninth inning when the crowd reliably goes home.
“Good morning!” we cheerfully advance to our guests who stagger out of their bedroom while I make French toast for the masses. “What are your plans today?” I add, hoping they’ll say, “Oh, we’re headed to Las Vegas to catch Celine Dion tonight at seven, thanks so much!” No, they say, “Oh, Larry doesn’t have to be back at work until Monday, and since Susie sprained her back tripping over a rock in that god-awful steep trail, we thought we’d hang here today, maybe read, if you don’t mind.” We force a smile and say, “Of course we don’t mind, we’re delighted,” and add, after a suitably pensive period, “You know, I’ve got some research to do at the library, so it may be tonight before I see you again.” Then I’ll go read my e-mail, which is mostly junk mail and rejection letters. Or maybe I’ll go pull cheat grass stalk by stalk and try to keep the sweet peas from smothering everything else, which usually elicits a 30-second, “What are you doing?” inquiry before said guest retires to the front porch with a beer and e-reader.
Seriously, we wouldn’t have it any other way. I think.