Wednesday, June 08, 2005

People Watching

So yesterday I took Robin to this Burger King/Papa John's that has a play place. There was a pregnancy test in the garbage in the ladies' room.

[Robin: Mommy, what were you saying to that lady?
Me: I was just telling her it would be a good idea to empty the the trash...]

We went up to the play place while we were waiting for our pizza and there were some people there already. Unfortunately I'm very much against the phrase "white trash," so I can't use it here. It would have helped me describe this family (who, of course, were Costa Rican and not white anyway.) But I can probably describe them without the objectionable phrase. They included:

  • A cute little 2.5 year old girl with a dirty face, playing in the ball pit
  • An overweight Grandmother fanning herself with one of the children's socks, and whose blouse is too short to cover her stomach. She keeps telling the girl, "Don't go up there [to the big-kid part]. If you go up there, nobody's going to go and get you down."
  • A 5 year old boy with 2/3 of a butt cheek hanging out because his pants are 2 sizes too big and his tightie-whities have crept up into a monster wedgie. (Predictably, the grandmother keeps telling him to pull up his pants.)
  • An adolescent girl who appears to be the childrens' mother is stretched out full-length on the padded bench outside the play area, disinclined to pay much attention to anything. (One's mind wanders back to the pregnancy test in the bathroom...)
  • An additional young woman who seems much more together than any of the others...I decided she was the first girl's friend.

When we got there, they started talking to each other about how Robin and I were speaking English to each other. It seemed to be a source of confusion and/or wonder, and there was quite a bit of discussion and a few clarifications before they lapsed back into telling the boy to pull up his pants.

The boy had switched from the ball pit to the big kid playground, and once the adults realized that he had access to the two-story spiral slide winding down into a large, windowed well beside us, they began to call to him:

- Adolescent girl: Go! Go down it! Go down the slide! You'll fall on those pillows! [Note: there are no pillows]
- Grandmother: Don't you go down there!
- Girl: Go! Go down that slide!
- Grandmother: Don't you go down there!
- (etc.)

Robin went up into the vicinity of the slide and wandered around a bit. We couldn't really see where either of the kids were most of the time, but the boy must have said something to her, because one of the girls called up to him, "She doesn't speak Spanish."

- Me (in Spanish): Of course she does.
- Girl: She does??
- Me: Yeah.
- Girl: Oh.

Neither of the kids ended up going down the slide and then it was time for us to go down and get our pizza. The playground family must have been hungry too because when we got back upstairs they had given the little girl a squirt of mayonaise in her hand for a snack while they got the kids ready to go. I realized they had not actually bought any food, but had just come in to use the playground.

It was a little surreal to see this American stereotype so fully played out in a different culture.

On our way back up to find a table close to the playground we passed three tables of high school students (A demographic that, has anyone else noticed, is seriously getting younger every year. Maybe these were middle schoolers.) That was when I was forced to reevaluate my theory, because I picked up just one word of one conversation, and that word was pregnant.

And I had to admit that, while sadder, it really made more sense. I never took a pregnancy test in a public restroom. Who would? Obviously, someone whose mom would notice it in the trash at home. I tried to eavesdrop a little but they were too far behind me so I couldn't tell if they were talking about it.

And yes, I checked. The test was negative.


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