All evening I sat at a picnic table pushed right to the edge of the lake, my feet in the waves. My father would not take off his shoes and they were soaked. Kiteboarders soared overhead, a high speed motor boat anchored offshore contained two bikinied girls ignoring two cowboy-hatted guys, and a Mexican man held a baby in diapers in the shallows. The baby could barely walk, and the man was coaxing it to touch the water, talking to the baby, giving it little rocks to look at, splashing its legs. There was no mother in view. The man picked it up and kept hugging it, caressing his back. Never did the baby cry. The man came over to our picnic table and asked if we were from town and that was the first time I saw his face. Always before he was bent over the baby or turned toward the lake. His expression was so crude and rough I said Yes, we were from town but nothing else. Rebuffed, he went back to his babytending, not teasing the baby the way my dad always did, my dad who was eighty-eight years old, who denied he ever teased any of his children. The man held the child's hand and led her or him into the waves and the child followed, stumbling, looking up at him. I wanted to call out: What a good father you are, or at least compliment him on how patient he was, but Dad was telling me a theory about lift and economics, and the bikinied girls had put their legs up on the bow of the boat, which did not seem to matter to the now beer-drinking cowboys but it did to my dad, and then the wind picked up and the kiteboarders whipped past us again. Although the Mexican man's pickup was parked close behind us, I didn't even hear it leave. My father and I watched the clouds gather and fall apart until my father said Mexicans were like that, they liked children.
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