Walk by the slide projector fast. That thing kicks out a lot of heat–yow! It’ll melt your ice cream. Plus, your shadow’s covering up baby John and his woolly baby hair.
We’re sitting on pillows on the wood floor, wrapped up in blankets while we cradle our bowls of ice cream. Tonight’s selections are Breyer’s mint chocolate chip, and The Year John Was a Baby.
John’s birthday is the last of the year, so dad goes through several cubes’ worth of 1982 before we get to the feature presentation. First we see the cluster of April birthdays (Dad, then me, and then Mary, 6 days between each). Then the trip to Chincoteague. Then Bonnie’s birthday and Mom’s, in June and July respectively. Then on October 8 John and Mom came home from Frederick Memorial Hospital.
We girls, realizing Bonnie’s creative vision, put on a Zero birthday party for John. There’s a fancy chocolate store bought cake with a number candle on top, a zero. Bonnie stood on a chair and taped the red crepe paper to the walls high up so they would be a sort of canopy, and she found the Happy Birthday plastic banner and put that up too. She did not, however, wrap John’s chair in crepe paper–he couldn’t sit yet.
John was a spitter-upper. As Dad switched out cubes to 1983, I remembered that fact, even though there’s little if any photo documentation of it. In the Easter picture we’re all in our finery. It must have been raining that day because I remember being indoors for the pose–leave a spot for Dad so he can set the timer and get in place quickly. After the flash, I asked if I could hold John for a moment and was allowed. Then he spit up on the burgundy velvet sleeve of my dress and I remember looking down at the braided rug and the white splash.
After an hour or two of the slide show people started dozing off or getting cranky. The loud whir, chick, whirrrrr…chick! of the slides changing ceased and the hot fan died down. In the absence of white noise we lowered our voices. Lamp on, sore blinks and bright-light tears after the darkness and our intense focus on each square or tall rectangle of light, showing awkward haircut after funny glasses after first day of school after road trip.