Meet eight-year old Moxie, who with three other girls, is playing one of the many clappy-slappy-sing-song games usually played in schoolyards. But this is not recess; this is a 4th of July barbecue at a family friend’s house in Albuquerque. The music is loud, the soldiers are half-inebriated and are raucously laughing at stupid jokes, their wives are not laughing with them, but at them, and their children are running around doing what kids traditionally do at 4th of July barbecues. What’s that which just whizzed behind Moxie at warp speed? Why it’s the four-year, old flat-footed, fartknocker Chanel, and she’s yanked Moxie’s shorts down to her ankles on the way past. It seems to Moxie that everyone is now laughing at her purple Jem (she’s truly, truly, truly outrageous) panties. Mortified, Moxie makes a dash for the door, but instead falls face-first into the grass because she neglected to pull her shorts up before taking flight. Moxie stumbles to her feet, rights her shorts, and resumes running for the door with Chanel’s evil, witchly cackles at her back. World, meet Moxie’s Embarrassing Moment Numero Uno.
Moxie and Chanel are spending the summer with their great-grandmother in sweet home, Chicago. Moxie ate so much at Uncle Mike’s 4th of July barbecue that by the time they got to the fireworks, Moxie’s tummy was feeling a bit squishy. By the time they returned to Big Mama’s house, she was downright miserable. Big Mama always says that either aloe, Tylenol, or Alka-seltzer can cure everything, so she gives Moxie a cup of the latter, sweetened with a bit of sugar. Within five minutes, Moxie was barfing up the contents of guts, and she may have even yakked up a kidney. After her stomach was empty, Moxie realized that she felt completely better. Once again, she was in awe of how Big Mama always seemed to know just what to do. Big Mama is seven years gone now, and Moxie seems to miss her on the 4th of July more than on any other day.
Moxie is 15 now and it’s the summer before Moxie’s junior year of high school. Frank has just graduated high school and is less than two weeks away from Basic Training. Moxie’s heart is aflutter, but she’s trying to play it cool. Through the past year, she and Frank have dated on and off (more off than on). Technically, they’re currently off. Maybe. Sort-of. Frank perplexes Moxie. They’ve been off for a few months now, with only a brief intermission to accompany Frank to his senior prom. They hugged briefly at graduation and Moxie thought for sure that with Frank soon to join the Army, it would be years before she saw or heard from him again. But to her surprise, a couple of days ago he called and asked if he could come hang out for a while to spend some time with her before he left. It was a flirty day, magical in all the ways of anxious, unsure teenage love. The next day on the phone, Moxie invited Frank to come spend the 4th in Savannah with her, her mom, and her sisters at a friend’s house. They’ve just finished eating, and now Frank has gone back the bedroom of the hostess’ old son, where for the past two hours he’s been on his knees playing basketball with the frisky five-year old. They just exploded from the room; Frank chased the tyke two laps around the couch and back into the bedroom, from where there are now hysterical tinkles of five-year old laughter. Frank must be tickling him. Moxie’s heart lurches with intuition. I’m going to marry him someday, she matter-of-factly thinks to herself.
Somehow Mom managed to miss the magic moment, but I think you smart grasshoppers can infer what happened here: