Test 2, Day 1

South Africa 309 for 6 (Philander 54*, Morris 23*) v England


Like a lot of families in the midwest did — and still do — my family would pack up the car and drive to Florida for a weekend in the sun and at the pool. I think we made the trip two or three times, with the last occasion being when I was seven years old and my sister nine. We would leave first thing in the morning when my sister and I were still asleep, my mother making us beds in the back seat and we would wake up and already be on the road, my dad driving with his ball cap and his flannel shirt and his cigarettes.

We would stop for the night in Tennessee and continue on until we reached Ft. Lauderdale. We didn’t stay in a fancy resort or at Disney World, but rather in a condo that belonged to my uncle’s in-laws which was on the beach with a pool. It was great, but the rules were a little strict (one time a resident yelled at my mother because the resident thought she hadn’t showered long enough before getting into the pool). And it was always a little weird staying in what was essentially someone else’s house. But it was fine. We would spend the week making sand castles and swimming in the pool and playing in the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.

One of the main highlights was going out to eat at night, as this was something we rarely did when we weren’t on vacation. When in Florida we mostly went to seafood restaurants because our parents knew that that was something that us kids would eat and it was also something that we didn’t get a lot of in land-locked Ohio.

On our last trip we went out to eat right after arriving. The restaurant was dark and we sat at a circular table near the salad bar. My mother said she felt like she was still in the car. When the waitress came to take our order, my sister asked the most embarrassing question I could ever have imagined.

At this point I must be clear that my sister is a very bright woman. And it was no different when she was nine. She was always in advanced classes, and was a whiz at all subjects: English, math, science, whatever. She was — and is — no dummy, in other words.

And I should also point that while at the time I thought it was hilarious and teased my sister endlessly about it for, probably, years afterward, now when I think back on it it just makes me sad. My smart sister, completely embarrassed, while on vacation, out at a restaurant, something we never go to do, trying to order a shrimp platter, something I know she was excited about. I don’t know. It makes me so very melancholy, so deeply sad. It breaks my heart a little, is the best way to say it. And it makes me want to call my sister and tell her I think she’s great.

The waitress was taking our order, and when she got to my sister, my sister pointed at something on the menu, and — shudder — she asked the waitress how many there were in a half a dozen. How many. There were. In. A. Half dozen. She must have just been confused by something on the menu, as my sister surely, without a doubt, knew exactly how many were in a half dozen. Which makes this all even more embarrassing. She was just confused, not ignorant. Horrible, just horrible. In response, the waitress looked liked she couldn’t believe she was being asked that.

“Six,” the waitress replied, her voice oozing with contempt.

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