In Prospect Park, a caravan of families files down to the lawn. The men set up volleyball nets and barbecues. According one old fella’s chest, it is–ta-da!–the 2004 Sephardic Lebanese Community’s Father’s Day Barbecue. You can count on American t-shirts to tell you what’s going on. Where I come from, we lose that bold, unguarded quality along with the “I AM FIVE” badges.
Nearby, another father argues with two mid-sized children, who cry because they are forced to walk instead of being pulled in their red wagon. “It’s important that you get _some_ exercise on the weekend,” he says. So they lie down on the path and refuse to get up.
“Last year there were no chairs, nothing,” says one hefty mother to another as they push laden strollers down the slope to the barbecue. “We had to sit on the grass, can you believe it! Looks like this year plenty of people have brought chairs. I see sunshades too. And they rented PortaPotties, thank God. Last year the kids couldn’t even go, poor things.”
Dangling from her stroller, and from the crooks of her elbows, are folding chairs, a folding table, a parasol, a barbecue, blow-up balls, the Sunday _New York Times_, coolers, and several bags of the mystery gear without which American children cannot survive outside the home.
“See, we learn more every year,” she says, huffing as she sets up a small living room on the grass. “It’s so important to bring the stuff that makes you comfortable.”