Monday, September 19, 2011

celebrate autumn like chris rock

My wife and I spent this past Saturday busy as all get out. My 13yo son was with his mother for the weekend. I was consumed with mowing the lawn (3 acres of it - this country living ain't all its cracked up to be) while my lovely bride worked in the house, played with our 4yo (who happens to be of Haitian origin), and caught up on her blog. By the time the afternoon rolled around, I was ready for a break and they wanted to get out of the house.

A quick shower later and we were supping at our local Dog and Suds drive in (yea country living!). Then we decided to do what all of the Chicago suburbanites do, head to the nearest corn maze and participate in agri-tourism at its finest. Since we both used to live in Chicago, we can mingle with the 'burbanites' who drove an hour to get here, even though we drove five minutes. What fun! And to boot, it was an antique tractor show weekend where admission was free with requests for donations going to our local food pantry.

And what an experience it was. Kids are running, screaming, jumping, and sliding all over the place. Even though the entry fee was waived,  the attractions do cost money to ride. The bouncy thing, the pedal cars, the rope climb, etc., basically parents are paying to have their kids exercise in a non-electrified Amish amusement park. Whatever the cost was for us, seeing these strange kids with their pudgy red faces huffing and puffing was worth the trip outside.

Our little guy on the other hand didn't even break a sweat. Maybe it is his Haitian heritage that makes him so athletic. Or it could be the fact he spent the first two years of his life in an orphanage in Haiti eating rice and drinking water instead of woofing down happy meals and arsenic laced apple juice like all of these other kids. This may be fatherly pride talking, but our little guy is solid and runs like a wide receiver.

So there we stand, proud parents of the lone bastion of racial diversity in the crowd watching our little man climb to the top of the big slide hill. I would like to note at this time that big slide hill is really a man-made earth mound with a 40 foot long, 36 inch diameter, PVC culvert section embedded in the soil. Children climb to the top, hand over their ticket, and jump into the pipe. Besides aspiring to a writing career, I am a civil engineer and I can say with authority that pipe was never intended for children to slide through it. Rather by the smooth interior surface I would say that was a pipe meant to carry sewage.

So our little man is climbing to the top of the hill and we are waiting at the bottom. This is the time my wife decides to discuss a YA novel I am working on. In it there is a black character who as a child receives a note in which a classmate uses a derogatory term which starts with the letter "N". If you do not know what word I am talking about, stop reading this and go get your GED already. Instead of using that "N" word here as I write, I will instead use the word 'peppermint.'  Got it? N-word = peppermint.

Our little guy is almost at the top when my wife says in a way too loud voice, "Hey, in your story, do you think you should really have him called a peppermint?" (I know, either my wife has no filter or she was too focused on my book). Well if I had dropped my pants and started singing show tunes there would not have been a more instant reaction from those around us. Yet no one said anything because no one had the street creds needed to say anything. We had all the cards in this game. And through it my wife never stopped looking at the top of the hill and when our guy slid down the sewer pipe, she squealed with delight at her brave little man.

So, next time you are at a harvest-fest type operation and you have your adopted Haitian son with you, why not pull out some Chris Rock material and see what happens. It might be magical.