Little Lambs Eat Ivy 2
The next morning, Adam awoke from a deep sleep. He sat up in bed, disoriented. He looked at the bedside table and recognized his teeth floating in a glass tumbler. His black-rimmed glasses came next, and piece by piece, Adam rebuilt his new world. After a shower and a shave, he was ready to explore it.
Outside Deen Gardens, the Arizona sun was already baking the desert at its feet into a cracked pink brick. Inside, the Buffalo grass beneath citrus trees still miraculously sparkled with dew drops like diamonds from heaven. Limp with moisture, petunias lined pathways winding under shade trees throughout the grounds. Adam walked along one of these paths, nodding to some of the folks he had watched the night before. Mr. and Mrs. Peacock powerwalked past him, classical music playing high and tinny from their earphones loud enough for him to recognize Handel’s Water Music. The two figures walking ahead of him, one tall, one short, told him that Frog and Toad were friends. Everyone seemed to have found a partner except him.
Adam had lived by himself long enough to take his own silences in comfort. But now, in this new place he had chosen to call home to his last day, he felt self-conscious. It reminded him of the first day at school, of how much it mattered to have a friend, even one, or else the days could stretch long indeed. A tune from his school days popped into Adam’s head and he whistled it absentmindedly.
The path rounded a man-made jumble of boulders and entered a clearing with a bench facing a flowerbed. On the bench sat a woman Adam did not recognize. She looked at him, smiled as if he had been expected. Then she put words to his whistling:
“Marsie Dotes and Dosy Dotes
And little lamsey divy.
A kiddle de divy do, wouldn’t you?”
“Those are the words! I’d forgotten them,” Adam said.
“Yes! And remember, when you slow it down it becomes:
“Mares eat oats
And does eat oats
And little lambs eat ivy.
A kid’ll eat ivy too, wouldn’t you?
I haven’t thought of that song in years,” she said.
“It just came to me. I was thinking about school days, and the song just came to me.”
“My girlfriends and I used to sing it all the time, as fast as we could. We thought we had one over on our folks. We thought they couldn’t understand us.”
Adam thought about his father, pictured his portrait still hanging above the old desk in the foundry, now beating its disapproval down onto someone else’s shoulders. “When you’re a kid, you never think your parents understand you,” he said.
“Right. But the joke’s on you. When you grow up and have your own kids, you realize it’s the other way around, or maybe it’s mutual. Do you have kids, Mr…?”
“Oh, pardon me. I should have introduced myself. I’m Adam Fletcher. How do you do, Mrs….?”
Instead of answering, the woman laughed open-mouthed, hands on knees and bosom moving toward the same, generosity of flesh giving them a short trip. Just watching her, the pleasure she took in the act of laughter, made Adam laugh until his teeth came loose...