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The banner on the fireplace molding said:  “Another Beautiful Day in Paradise.”   It was straight across and neat,  in printed Nuptial script, about four inches high.  Paradise, day, beautiful, even “another”—all thoughtful, touching words.  It was a birthday party for Gracie, turning twelve.  I suppose we’re all beautiful when we’re twelve, and bright and eager to learn; also, a funny mixture of gawky and glamorous, like foals.  When I asked what school they went to, I got “O.L.P.H.” where the P stands for “perpetual.”  Another great P word.  Not as great as “paradise” but close, though some of the girls thought it was a weird word and some were proud that they had memorized the definition.

When they weren’t sitting for the caricature, they were playing “Minute to Win It” and being hilarious about it.  How could you not be hilarious shaking off the cotton ball stuck to the Vaseline on the tip of your nose!?  When the games petered out and the floor was being cleared of all the Minute debris, they gathered around to watch the drawing.  That produced lots of giggles.  But then they also noticed my water bottle in the midst of the markers.  Neat!  If it falls over it’ll spill a few drops but not much.  “How did you put the hole in the top?”   I used an electric drill, I said.  Electric drill?  This called for some elaboration.  I said, it was easy, but you had to clamp the top down on a work bench.  Work bench?   I had to explain that as an artist I worked with stuff like that.  It really was easy, I insisted, without seeing any conviction on their freckled faces.  But between perplexed looks, they said, I want one of those, that is so neat.  Very sweet.  They’re twelve.

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