Party People.

by Serge Bielanko

In the parking lot of the department store where we have come to kill fifteen minutes my wife speaks to me.

"Dude, I think she shit."

Grace and elegance in a murder/suicide.

"Really?" I respond. With an experienced hand I move in to slip the diaper back a tad, have a look.

"Watch out or you'll get PoopFinger", she blurts.

Ahhh yes, PoopFinger. Not today, not here. I barely pull back the plastic ruffle with the very tips of my fingers. I'm edgy this morning...I have no idea why, a bad Zoloft maybe. Whatever. A dunk in the kid's swamp is not what I'm needing.

"Yep, there's shit! Holy shit! Dude, there is an exploded star in here!"

Things are put into motion without words. I spin backwards around Monica as she pushes towards Violet in her car seat. We ballet. I open the back door of the Honda, glide to the left like a windblown Fiver, and pause in refined observation of my partner in life as she lays the vinyl changing pad down on the bendy plastic Honda Filthy Pet tray as if she were fluffing out a picnic blanket onto a French hill.

Violet ganders at her Mama, then over at me. Her eyes shine with love.

I pirouette to the side of the vehicle and fetch the stroller, unfold it, and return in one buttery slide. Monica's arms are pure theater as they move so swiftly that she appears to be an Octopus.

Whats this!!!!???

From her swarm of activity there pops up a miniature white balloon: the diaper! I pluck it from its sky path and pull it to my chest.

Then just as quickly, I jump and twist my way back to the front of the store where the trashcan is. I Air Jordan the thing, and leave a little bit of my daughter/a little bit of me: outside the Kohl's in Sandy. Then I flutter back to our parking spot. Violet is all changed when I get there; she's playing with her toes in the stroller.

We go in the store together to not buy anything.

After a few minutes wasted we leave having not bought anything. My spirit is kicking at the Blue Wall.

We go to a birthday party. Even with all the poopy diaper ballet dancing poking around ghostly empty box store with no money...we are still the first ones at the party. We cannot be fashionably late. No matter how hard we want it. Even at a three year old's Birthday Party, we are first.

We move through the quiet house into the empty yard. We regard each other nervously, uneasily, with politely raised brows. We want to blame each other for this ridiculous early shit.

Then, the surroundings come in to focus. My spirit soars.

A massive trampoline stands epic in the sun; The Coliseum in the morning mist, before the Gladiators.

A plastic inflated palm tree leans against a railing taped up with electric blue shiny streamers that crackle and whisper when the slightest breeze passes by.

The grill stands alone. Uncovered. A rocket ship on launch day.

There is a dry yellow Slip'N'Slide lying on a steep bank like a dead giraffe.

The magical tang of anticipation wafts across this summer place. Beneath the majestic Wasatch gaze, I stand upon this backyard's hill and I look down across the sweeping spectacle of suburban rooftops, one after the other, as far as the squinting eye can see. I look down and across and I see the future and the radiant flashing glints of the distant electric colored streamers of so many summer days yet to happen. Ice cream days. Days of cake and pale ale. Days in which other parents, people I barely even know, will look at me with sympathetic eyes and chuckle at my Daddy jokes, hand me a cold can. I will accept that can, good sir. And all that it says.

What begins with a celebration of the mundane and slightly stinky in an empty parking lot can indeed end up a festival of sweet young life. Of the wonders of youth. But you need to let it happen, you see. This was a special day. For Violet. For Monica. For me. This was the first birthday party we were invited to, as a unit/as a squad. We are The Bielankos. And we have come to party in the new old way.

Now. Who else do we know with kids? And a trampoline?