Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Queen & Her Rooftop Spaceship

Today is the birthday of the "Queen of the Next Gen". My niece Jessica - who is the oldest child of my oldest sister Evan (is it just me or are we working on a Dylan lyric) - celebrates her birthday today. I remember being a fairly young fellow when Jessica was born. In my mind's eye I suppose that she will be forever young. I know better than that. She herself became a mom for the first time not too terribly long ago. Her daughter is - based upon all photographic evidence I have seen - simply adorable. One cannot help but notice the striking resemblance between that little girl and her youngest great-uncle on her mother's side although I am at a loss as to why no one other than me seems to see the resemblance.

Jessica is not only the tip of the spear of the next generation of Kennys, she is unique among her cousins in that the life of her maternal grandfather actually overlapped hers at least for a little while. For most - if not all - of her first cousins, he exists only in pictures seen and stories recounted by parents and others of my generation. She was not just a baby in her shared existence with him. She was a walking, talking little human being and by my memory very much the apple of Grandpa's eye. It takes a strong backbone and an iron will to serve as a bridge. She has both.

I smiled thinking about my eldest niece this morning on the occasion of her birthday because I thought of silliness such as the infamous spaceship on the roof of Mom/Dad's house in Neshanic Station. For years when she was a very little girl I told her that there was a spaceship parked on the roof of the house. I also told her of course that she was too young to be allowed to go up on the roof and see it for herself.

Why I settled on "spaceship on the roof" as the ruse of choice I know not. It was likely my half-assed attempt to carry on the tradition in our family of age-based restrictions that older siblings created out of whole cloth to torture those of us at the younger end of the chain. Unlike Canal Road, the house in Neshanic Station did not have a full-sized attic - (accessible only by way of a staircase secreted from view behind a heavy door in an upstairs bathroom) - to serve as the "Age 10 and Older" Shangri-La. That glaring design flaw necessitated the creation of the spaceship on the roof scenario. Also, I had no younger brother or sister upon whom to inflict such inanity. That too was a glaring design flaw that I lacked the ability to remedy. Jessica was the best available option/target.

She handled her end of the bargain with aplomb. I suspect now that she never suspected then that Grandma and Grandpa had a spaceship atop the roof of their house - although we lived so far out beyond Nowhere's middle that the aliens from Independence Day could have parked their entire expeditionary force in our back yard quite comfortably. I suspect that she simply humored her dopey uncle.

Whether her belief in the existence of the rooftop spaceship was genuine or simply her way of humoring me I know not. And all these years later it matters not. Rooftop spaceships always make me smile. And in that regard, they are not only priceless but timeless as well.


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