Being the single friend at the neighborhood Fourth of July celebration (or any celebratory party) can be…awkward. For the last 6 years I have attended my neighborhood’s (mostly family focused) Fourth of July celebration. And (up until this year) I have always attended these gatherings as the single guy of the neighborhood.
Fortunately for me, the shindig is hosted by a family that is like family to me, so I never felt as awkward or out of place as one might have felt as a random attendee. I took on host-like duties, (well, I was assigned host-like duties) like lighting the fireworks (because if I get hurt or die from the explosives—there aren’t children left fatherless or a spouse left widowed). I also got put in charge of setting up the backyard movie—which is hilarious because I stink at technological things.
One thing about being the single guy at these neighborhood gatherings is you get targeted by the children as their play buddy. They see you as the weakling of the adult group; you have no partner, you have no small children (or big children), and at the moment they strike you aren’t occupied with some mundane task. Which is great until the children are doing things that need adult intervening, but when you say something you are met with “You’re not an adult!”
“Yes, I am. I’m definitely an adult, and we can’t pick the plants in the garden.” I replied in the most adult tone I could muster.
“You’re a kid! Where are YOUR parents?!” A child yelled back at me.
And then I realized I was arguing with six-year olds and ended the argument with, “We aren’t picking the plants. End of story. All of you to the backyard—now. And don’t make me count.” When this was met with groans I knew I had won. Victorious over the herd of sassy children! But maybe next time I should enlist the help of an adultier adult, one who carried more authority among the children.
Over the last 6 years the children and parents had gotten used to me showing up with the video equipment, some beer, lots of hilarious puns, and sans a significant other or any sign of one. This year when I showed up with my usual items and a mysterious woman, there were whispers among the eight year olds. “Who’s that?” “Is that Jay’s GIRLFRIEND?” “I think Jay has a girlfriend.” “NO WAY!” It was as if they could not comprehend me being capable of dating anyone long enough to bring them to a neighborhood gathering. To be fair, based on what you’ve read in previous posts, I’m sure you might also struggle to believe that I am able to not screw things up for more than a date or two.
At one point, I looked up from setting up the video equipment to see the children had gotten the unsuspecting woman I brought with me. Oh no, they had sought her out as the weakling from the adult pack because for a brief moment, she was standing alone without a task and without a partner. They had her in their grips now in a game of hide and seek. I thought about saving her, but then I thought about the risk, what if they got me while I was trying to save her? She looked like she was handling herself just fine. I slowly backed away to a crowd of adults. There was nothing I could do now, she had become the children’s permanent seeker in their never ending game of hide and seek.
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