His Hair Was Perfect

Pete took these beautiful pictures of my family being herded like cats on a beach in Cape Cod. Grandpa turned 96 and Miss Sasha’s baby Panky being seven months old meant Mom hired a photographer, issued a dress code order and refused to hear complaints from anyone. I do mean anyone. When Grandpa was done for the day, we got in the car and drove off while Mom was still threatening to cut off our inheritances. We weren’t fooled. While most people have some intention of dying and leaving their children something, if it means parting with her stuff Mom’s going to live forever.

Pete, lifelong observer of my family’s politics, dressed according to the dress code and appears in some pictures. This is because nobody ever gets to leave my family without getting a restraining against half the town, so he’s stuck with us. Mom had lots of pictures planned: Grandpa’s direct descendants, Mom’s and Tom’s children and grandchildren, smaller family units. So Pete had plenty of time to take pictures of the beleaguered yet cheerful photographer herding us like cats. By the time the little boys were bored, throwing rocks and digging for China seemed like an awesomely awesome idea. Pete loves Cape Cod. Plus: throwing rocks and digging for China – ya hunh!

Before the photographer arrived, we parked and wandered around on the beach rocks. I handed Pete the camera and asked him to take pictures of the chaos, and they are fantastically quirky. The beach, Tom told us, is one of the few spots on the East Coast where the sun sets over the ocean. Since the place was so special, we were all surprised when the photographer moved us across the street to a spot next to the salt marsh. The path was rocky and we all worried about Grandpa’s footing, but he managed with a cane and four nervous helpers. The spot where we stopped lay between two banks of rose hip bushes, all the more amusing because Daria’s wildly allergic to rose hips. So, you know, it’s not just a mildly hostile and odd image, it’s a brush with brushy death.

Mom wanted a picture of her grandchildren and great-grandson before the photographer arrived. They all sat on the rocks and Pete caught this wild image of babies crying, grandchildren arguing, children laughing, spectators like myself gasping for breath as the sun bobbed above the horizon behind them. My brother Todd’s little son was hysterical so Todd scooped him up and dropped him back down for the pictures my sisters frantically snapped off to Pete’s right. Here, Todd’s still trying to comfort the inconsolable toddler.

We spent two days with much of my family during which the screaming of children was pretty much to be expected. It was the incessant screaming of their parents that took Pete and me by surprise. Tonight, we watch the Olympics in near silence and listen for the padding footsteps of perplexed pussycats. For the moment, we are at home.

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