God Bless America

The upcoming July 4 holiday reminds me of a little girl I met two summers ago at the Georgia State Tennis Tournament in Macon.

My kid was warming up for a match, his second of the day. It was late in the afternoon and hot enough that I could feel my white-girl skin crisping up like a batch of the Colonel’s Extra-Crispy Recipe.

I sat my stadium chair in the six inches of shade provided by an anemic magnolia tree anticipating the first serve of the match when a little girl planted herself between me and the court.

“My name is America,” she announced.

“Hi, America,” I said, smiling and tilting my head from left to right to see the action. I hoped she would get the hint that she was in my way.

“Today’s my birthday. I’m six.”

“Well, happy birthday! Are you going to have a party?” I asked, still trying to see around her.

“Uh huh. Guess what?”

“What?” I responded. Then, “That’s it, man!” I said, encouraging my kid when he won the point, my annoyance mounting as I exaggerated my efforts to see around the little girl.

“The night I was conceived, my parents were in New York City. And the next day was September 11, 2001.”

She had my attention.  I stopped trying to see around her. The child had just told me about the night she was CONCEIVED!

Now, I have conceived three children in my lifetime. And you know what? While I have a pretty good idea of where they were conceived, I’m not exactly sure about the when part. And you know what else? I’ve never discussed the where or my guesses as to the when with my kids. Because ewwww! Who tells their kid about the night she was conceived?

Collecting myself, I said, “I’ll bet that’s why you’re named America.”

“Um, no.”

And then she skipped away, leaving me to think that little America had just redefined “shock and awe.”

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