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  • Writer's pictureTodd Stevens


Friday night, sometime in the late summer of 1988. My sister and I were living in Boise Idaho with our young families. A heat wave had gripped the city for weeks, daytime temperatures rarely dropped below 90, which for that region is hot. I had my oldest two kids at the time, Noelle and Ben, and Shannon had her two oldest, Jacob and Josh. We’d set up a sprinkler in the backyard, and the kids raced through it, their skinny little legs and little toddler bellies flying. The sun was verging on dropping below the western horizon, lost in an orange haze. We all sat in those lawn chairs that were made of aluminum pipes, and had braided nylon bands woven like lattice for the back and seats. Crickets called from all over the neighborhood and they were a signal that it was beginning to get late, dinner time had arrived. We formulated a plan as the kids continued to run through the sprinkler in the darkening evening. We searched wallets and coin purses and added up what we had between us. It comes out to $17, or $18...or maybe even $19, it doesn’t matter, it wasn’t much. Someone called Domino’s and ordered the special, two large pizzas and breadsticks for $11.95…or something like that. We called the kids in and they weren’t happy about it. Their lips were bluish and their fingers were white and wrinkled like albino raisins. We wiped the grass and gravel from their wet bodies and they lined up on the porch wrapped in raggedy towels like wise men, shivering and teeth chattering. They started to nag for a moment until they found out pizza was coming, then they became giddy and ran into the house after we told them to get dressed.

Russ and I got in the car carrying 4 massive insulated mugs. We drove about a mile to a gas station called, “Stinker Station” where we filled the mugs with ice and soda for a quarter each. We loaded the sodas into the car and drove another mile to an independent video store and looked through the racks and racks of videos until we were able to find a movie that the girls would like, we would like, and the kids could watch. The cost for the three rentals was maybe $4.50. With the three bucks that were left we bought peanut M&Ms, Twizzlers, and Milk duds. Dominos was just a little walk from the video store, so we walked across the parking lot, the air beginning to cool, but heat still rising from the pavement, and we popped into the Dominos and grabbed our pizza from a kid that was probably 16, but looked 12.

We carried our loot into the house and doled out pizza on flimsy white paper plates. The kids lined up around the table on their knees and removed olives, green peppers, mushrooms, anything that wasn't crust, cheese, or pepperoni. The adults all went down to the basement with our pizza and plugged in the girls movie first. We ate and watched the movie...we watched the movie, we engaged with one another, and we were all present in the room together. After a while Jacob came down and whispered in his mom’s ear. She said, “It’s okay with me, but ask their mom and dad.” He walked over, “Can Noelle and Ben spend the night?” He was so cute there was no way we were going to say no, which was probably the kid’s plan all along, be cute. I glanced up to the top of the stairs and saw Ben and Noelle lurking. They jerked back so I couldn't see them. Jacob ran up the stairs, “They said yes!’ Excited footsteps running to the kids' bedrooms. We watched the movies and we ate our pizza and treats, and we laughed and enjoyed our time together. We didn’t think about rent, or work, or answering emails, or texts. We were there for several hours until it was very late and the time was long, and unbroken, and filled with kids and food and life…how is it that I didn’t realize I was the richest man in the world?

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