I remember a friend from Kindergarten named Sean. He had sandy blond hair and was extremely outgoing. I think early on, I admired this quality in others because I was shy and quiet. I wasn’t the type to go out of my way to make friends, but Sean was.
He gave me his phone number once (“Hey, this only has six digits” my sister said, when I gave her the piece of paper) but we never hung out away from school. The one time I saw him away from the usual surroundings was at a party my family attended every year. It was some kind of social to-do on a sprawling estate tucked away in South Clarkstown. I don’t even know who hosted it or why we got invited. I just knew that we always went.
That year Sean’s family was there too, and while the adults schmoozed, we stole away to run around on the grass. We found a hill and did what little kids do when they find hills: we rolled down it. At the bottom of the hill was a parking lot. When Sean saw a woman climbing the steps that led up from the lot, he said, “Hey, why don’t you roll down this hill with us?”
The woman halted and gave us an uncomfortable smile. She was young, but very clearly a grown up. Grown ups didn’t roll down hills.
“Oh I rolled down earlier.” She said.
Well, see, Sean? I wanted to say, she rolled down earlier. Leave the grown up alone.
Sean didn’t accept this. “Why don’t you do it now?”
The woman paused. Didn’t anyone tell him grown ups don’t roll down hills?
“Oh, okay.” The woman said, and in seconds, she was tumbling down the hill, dress and all.
Even then Sean knew something that I still have trouble with now that I'm a grown up: it never hurts to ask.