Teddy knocked on the front door while we were still cleaning the kitchen after dinner, dragging the mop’s heavy braids across the ceramic tile. As soon as we were done, we flew through the front door, the screen door closing slowly.
Someone slammed down an empty 2-liter soda bottle on the pebbled street in the middle of the court, and Joey held his hand over his eyes, counting out loud. He spun in a tight circle, one hand over his eyes and the other arm blindly extended. We scattered, darting around the back corners of houses and hiding behind rhododendron bushes. Kids laid flat along the tops of hills and hid in forts created by trees. I wonder if any kids in any neighborhood in any town played the game right, but we certainly didn’t. Joey never left the bottle so no on ever had the chance to kick it and free everyone hiding. He stood in the center of the court for an hour, scanning the front and side yards for movement. Occasionally, he got get lucky and caught a kid darting from one backyard to the other. He’d run to the bottle, grasp its neck, and use it to beat the hell out of the street while screaming, “1, 2, 3…I see Amy in the Daub’s backyard!” More often than not, though, his hour of scanning yielded nothing. His tight circles grew wider and slower, but he never left the bottle. Those of us hiding sat down and pulled up long stalks of waxy grass, piling them in our palms and smoothing them out until someone finally walked out of a backyard, hands in the air, yelling, “You can’t get me! I’m not playing anymore!” The rest of us walked out one by one, saying, “Me, too! I’m not playing anymore.” It wasn’t a game. No one did anything, took any risks, or followed any of the rules. There were no hard feelings, and we’d play the same game the next night.