In my head I suppose I was thinking only, "Oh sure, I can give the boys a ride," but as soon as we got to the park it hit me that my obigations were a bit more than this: I was in loco walseris for the evening. Lolo and Smack are not toddlers, and there were plenty of adults around, but there still needs to be an individual keeping account. With two charges your eyes start moving in different directions, like a comic actor in a silent movie. I also get nervous. At one point Smack was climbing on a fence that overlooked a pretty steep precipice, so I went over to Jack (father of 5) and asked if that was something to worry about. He looked over and said, "No, that's safe. If he starts to walk along the top of the fence like a high wire that's when you step in. Eric used to do that all the time."
There was another moment of concern, when we were packing up to head over to the pub (before we even got into my car earlier the boys told me of their plans to have root beer and french fries at the bar), and Smack was nowhere to be found. Lolo and I called his name and set to looking for him until Denise pointed out that Smack was mere feet from us, out of our sightlines on the other side of a bench, sitting on the ground reading one of the comic books I had brought for Anna Bean, consciously ignoring our cries. Ha-ha.
It's been a while since it's been just me and the boys like that. In the car ride over it came clear that their bickering has taken on an adult sophistication. The main cause of the bickering was, in essence, a competition for my attention, but boy have they gotten this down. When Smack called Lolo a "gap-toothed stupid nincompoop" I realized that this was partially scripted.
We parked the car in front of a group of tourists on Segway scooters, who were giving us sweet indulgent looks. The image of an adult male carting around two identically dressed twin nine-year-olds is so wholesome that people can't help smiling. The boys barely noticed, having spent a lifetime being the recipient of those looks. That's the point where I realized that I was dad for the night.
The dancing was fun and then we all walked over to Pracna on Main where I got an outdoor table for just me and Lolo and Smack. While waiting for our root beer and french fries (beer and smoked salmon quesedilla for me) they asked for a story. "About the past, present, or future?" I asked. "Whatever you like," they said, so I told a story that crossed through time, about that time in the past that was really the future when we all went to Mars. When this took place I was a drooling old man in a wheelchair, wearing my Morris kit in reminiscence of my youth, grumbling about the world. Lolo and Smack were grown men with families. There are lots of ice cream shops on Mars, it turns out, and the Martians all look like characters from 1930s Disney cartoons because they received transmissions of those cartoons and altered their shapes accordingly for the Earth tourist trade. The time-travel key was that we almost got left behind when the spaceship returned to earth and had to hang on to the outside of the ship, away from the protection of the time-warp barrier, so as we flew faster than light time moved backwards for us and when we landed on earth I was in my forties and the boys were two years old.
Lolo and Smack helped me smooth out some of the metaphysical inconsistencies of my story, suggesting that when we returned to earth I turned them back over to their parents to begin their lives again until we all got older and went back to Mars and thus the cycle would continue. Then the French fries came. Yum.
We sang our Hogwarts train song at top volume on the walk back to the car, and the boys were in happy moods. Lolo announced: "That's what Morris is all about! French fries and a party! First you dance, then you have a party!"
I definitely got the boys home way too late -- it was 9:45pm and one of them has an early morning -- but we all had fun.
This is a photo of Lolo and Smack and three of Jack's kids at a previous bar excursion.