My son’s shoulders were red and his tank top was drenched with sweat. He smelled bad too and though I didn’t want drive away–not yet–I couldn’t help but think how if I didn’t, his car seat would get sweatier and sweatier and probably never not stink again. Only the very top section of his hair was not plastered to his head and was standing straight up as if he was still running around with the other kids. If you looked close enough, you could almost see little chests sticking out of each of the hairs as if they were proud to be counted among the few who held out to the end of the battle.
“Mommy, what’s funny?”
I didn’t raise my head from the steering wheel where I had just placed it. As for me, I was warm for a different reason and in a different place. My shoulders were red from the sun except for where my spaghetti string tank top had only slightly covered each of them, and now that I was away from the man I could finally allow my face to fully flush and match the hue. But I didn’t want Billy to see and comment. Not expecting nor suppressing the giggle that erupted, I deliberately focused on memorizing every feature of his face, physique, and sense of humor. He was perfect. I did not want to forget him. And yet I forgot to give him my number. Dammit. What was his name again? Steve? Brian? Eric! Eric. His name was Eric. Whew.
I did consider raising my head when I heard a knock on my window followed by “Mommy, the man from the park is knocking on your window.” Shocked and not wanting him to see me in this state, as I raised my head I kept my hands where I had had them at the ten and three and I tensely looked away. There was a second round of knocking and a second round of Billy announcing the knocking. For a moment I wondered how long he would stand there and for a briefer moment I wanted to test him–only partly playing–but I didn’t. Finally, turning my head with no small amount what-I-knew-would-be-an-enticing flash of my shoulder length, cute, jet black hair, I looked up at him, smiled, and attempted to lower the window. I had hoped my skin’s normal color had returned to my face, but as I pressed down on the window button, I was certain my face regained whatever red it had lost, this time due to embarrassment. I had forgotten to even turn on the car. No wonder I was so hot. Poor Billy, I chuckled to myself. I could hear the local news’ coverage already: “Local boy and mom rushed to the hospital earlier today. After recovering from a mild case of heat stroke, the mom admitted she had become absentminded after talking to a nice man for the first time in years and subsequently forgot to turn on the car after getting in it to drive home.”
Luckily, the car started and I had the a/c on and window down in no time.
“Hey-” I began.
“Hey-” he interrupted.
“What’s funny, mommy?”
He didn’t seem like he would start again so I finally said, “Yes-” right as he did begin again with, “So-”
We laughed again.
Billy laughed from the back seat.
We laughed harder because of it and Billy kept laughing.
“Should we ro-sham-beaux to determine the order of speakers?” Eric asked.
“Ro-sham-beaux?” Billy repeated.
“No. I’m sorry. Please, go ahead,” I insisted, looking right through his only lightly tinted, tan designer sun-glass lenses and into his remarkable and piercing dark brown eyes.
He looked back at Billy, waived, and then said, “Before you go, I just thought you might want to see this,” as he handed me his phone.
“Can I see, mommy?”
I almost gave the phone right back to him as the screen did not have whatever I was expecting, which I guess I would have to say was another cute meme like the ones he had already shown me. Only a moment before that awkwardness, I realized what he was doing. He was so considerate. He had given me his phone on the “Add New Contact” page with my name so that I could give him my number without the kiddo knowing. He remembered my name. You better believe I triple checked the number, even going as far as texting myself and checking my phone to see that I got it before handing his phone back to him.
“Funny,” I said finally. Turning to Billy, I said, “Not this time, sport.”
“Well, it was my pleasure. Nice to meet you, Billy. Be good for your mom.”
I then watched as he stepped back a ways and stoically raised his open right hand. I would’ve kept looking at him, but when he coolly smiled and winked, I couldn’t keep a straight face so I pretended to clear the passenger side of my reverse.