It's the summer of 1984, my teenage sister is pregnant and my mother works at night, meaning they spend the day watching Soap Operas, especially, "The Young and the Restless". This is the time my mother and my sister are now using to bond now that it has been accepted that my sister made a youthful mistake and that we will get through this, together, as a family. Sadly, my sister's boyfriend who got her pregnant has opted to deny any responsibility. From what I understand overhearing conversations he joined the Army. At the time my mother said things like "he ran off to the Army to avoid his responsibility" but in hind sight, he was likely looking to join the Army anyway, and the fact that it allowed him to avoid responsibility was likely just a convenient benefit.
Them being in front of the television during the day was also convenient for me because it left me plenty of free time to explore the wilds of our yard. Our house sat on a very large plot of land. There was a very long driveway (about a city block long) from the street to the house. There was an empty house next to ours and at the very start of the driveway by the street was an old white building, smaller than our house, that my mother called "the bar” despite the fact that it wasn’t a commercial establishment of any kind. I think she called it this because Lorraine (my godmother) used to drink Pabst Blue Ribbon beer there with some of her friends on the weekends, and there was a Pabst sign in the window. But there was no cash register, and it was not open to the public. The driveway was a long, bumpy dirt stretch with a curve in it. Perfect for riding a bike on. We had trees, a swing-set and my mom had built me a treehouse. We also had a dock on the river out back behind the house where we would feed ducks and drop crab traps. There was a lot of fun for a boy to have. I spent a lot of time with a machine gun stick patrolling that land, defending it from imaginary evil forces long since forgotten. I would burn ants with a magnifying glass, I caught bees & butterflies and would sneak strawberries from my mothers garden even though she told me not to because she needed them all to make jam. It was tremendous fun. We had a big old shaggy brown dog named snoopy. Snoopy lived in a dog house outside, except for when my mom would let him in the house. Sometimes I would crawl into his dog house with him and lay with him. It was a very different time.
My friend Sam would come over from two houses over. We would play with matchbox cars and G.I. Joes and dig in the dirt. We played Cowboys and Indians and chased each other and went back inside when the sun was going down. I was a genuinely happy kid. I was just as happy when I realized that we were trying to pick out a new name for the baby. It seemed like weeks that names were discussed (it was likely just days). I know a lot of names were thought of. I even got to think of a few. But then someone had the idea they might want a unique name... a special name... There was a character in "The Young and the Restless" named "Cricket". That could be a cool name. Maybe... Me, at the age of almost 6, really liked the name Cricket. I was a big fan. I can remember jumping around yelling "Cricket!" "Cricket! Name her Cricket!"
But alas, the opinions of a five year old bear little weight. The name was decided. My youngest niece would be named Ashley. It's probably for the best.