so it's early for a saturday night by some indicators, around 11 pm, but it seems a little bit late for the neighborhood kids to be out and about, counting at the tops of their lungs. this was the sound that greeted me as i climbed the back stairs at the end of a long day -- a chorus of voices, "twenty THREE one thousand. twenty FOUR one thousand. twenty FIVE one thousand..."
but the alley between my home and their sidewalk playground was playing tricks, and so the count seemed to be coming from many directions at once, sort of echo-y, hard to pin down or find with my ears. this called for further investigation, so thirston (dog) and i hit the trail for our nightly walk around the block.
sure enough, we walked into a small swarm of girl counters, barefoot, sweaty, and all jazzed up about the game they were in the middle of playing. "hide and seek?" i asked, hoping to demonstrate my vast knowledge of outdoor, late-night, summertime game options.
"nope," melissa (age 11) explained, "cops and roberts. and the boys are the cops and the girls are the roberts. the cops have to chase the roberts and then we switch and the roberts get the cops."
practically on cue three cops surfaced noisily from around some bushes and the chase began with six shrieking girls taking off down the sidewalk. what these roberts lacked in stealth, they more than made up for in squeal. thirston and i finished our walk, monitoring the game's progress from the other side of the block while also keeping our ears open for a late-night ice cream truck circulating the neighborhood with a 'last call for cones and cups.'