Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Rat, Some Pizza and Hell

She came from nowhere.

One moment there was empty space next to my left arm, and suddenly a medium-sized white girl appeared. She stood out in the ocean of chocolate surrounding me, not just because of her color, but because of how brazenly she approached me and how close she stood to me. Very strange behavior for a little white girl.

"Can I have a token," she asked.

I paused, quite uncomfortable and more than a little angry. Why was this child panhandling? Her query cut through the shrieks of delight and despair in the crowded room. It momentarily distracted me from the cloying aroma of fake cheese mixed ever so subtly with dirty diaper. She wanted a token, and she wasn't afraid to ask.

"I'm sorry, I only have tokens for him," I replied, with a nod towards my young son, perched atop a giant porcelain horse flapping the faux-leather reins and kicking the spotted horse's sides with his miniature brown cowboy boots.

My reply was classic passive-aggressive behavior, a tactic I picked up after years of encounters with professional panhandlers. I perfected it on the streets of Washington, D.C. as I dodged the throng of bums that gathered in front of the McDonald's near my dormitory. The secret is to give them answers they don't expect, to never appear angry or rude, and to keep moving.

But the little girl was slick. She wasn't distracted by my ploy.

"So you don't have anymore tokens," she said, taking another step towards the horse than my son was still enjoying.

"Well maybe I can just climb on behind him, I can fit," she said, as she touched the hard saddle and began to mount.

"No sweetheart, I don't think you can do that. He's riding it, and only one person is allowed," I replied, slowly feeling my anger, and a little bit of fear, blossom.

"Well, I can show him how to do it then, he has to press this, and grab these," the girl said grasping the reins my son held, and reaching across him to press a button designed to make the best leap.

Now, I'm truly disturbed. The girl's initial panhandling was a breach of etiquette, but now she's crossed over into another realm entirely. Yet, I'm a little unsure how to handle this situation.

Clearly she's encroaching on my territory and my son's fun, but how do I handle a young white child? We may have a black president, but this is still the South and a little white girl being disciplined by a big, black man could cause some difficulties...

Where are this child's parents? How could they allow her to become a token slave without stepping in? Dammit, things were already bad, now I have to deal with this crap?

I turn behind me looking for assistance, my face a mask of shock at the girl's brazen attitude. I see a black woman, short, heavyset, her hair caught up in that hard style that was popular when I was high school. She too is shocked at the girl, we exchange looks that say everything that needs to be said about home training, but neither of us move towards the girl. Did I mention the little white girl had already pushed aside this woman's daughter who was waiting patiently for my son to finish his ride so that she could have her turn?

Another woman takes charge, her manner gruff, her words harsh.

"Hey you, little girl," the woman says, as she grabs the child's arm in a way I would have never been comfortable attempting. "You get down from there and get behind us. Behind us."

The woman is adamant that the little white girl move, I'm amused at her anger. She says in an aside to me and the other woman "What's wrong with her, like she can't see us."

My son's ride is over. He wants to go again, but I'm worried about these other parents waiting and the little white girl who begged me for a token. I take him down, he's disappointed, but obedient. I walk him away, asking him if he's ready to leave. A short tantrum issues, but I squelch it by reminding him that he can easily catch a whipping here, no matter what Chuck E. Cheese tells him about being happy. He relents, we prepare to leave, gathering up his cowboy hat and coat.

I look around as we head to the door. Children are screaming, parents are crammed in small booths hovering over sad pizza pies. A line stretches outside the front door as people wait to enter this whirling, beeping, sweaty, cheesy circle of Hell. I know for certain what I always suspected.

The Devil is a Rat.


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14 comments:

Darth Whitey said...

Geez that's crazy, I see your point. Woulda been much easier if she were the same race as you.

OK I'm sorry to change the subject but I have to bring this up, I'm sorry.

I realized last night that I'm racist. You see, I was watching a reportage on the French channel about this (white) French-Canadian family so eagerly and lovingly adopting a little girl from Haiti (black), waiting at the airport with tears of joy with the entire white-as-rice extended family in tow. They're all so moved and so happy. I see the new daddy hugging her tightly carrying her off, such a tender scene.

And I felt revolted, like it was gross or something. It was visceral, I couldn't help it. In fact I'd even go so far as to say it's not my fault because I was very alarmed by my honest reaction.

Now mind you I don't see this child as undeserving or inferior in any way and I would never dream of denying her opportunity or what have you based on the color of her skin. But my God I can't believe it!!!

Well there you have it. I'm sorry.

Big Man said...

1. I'd have to know why you were revolted to assess whether it was about race.

2. Why don't you think your reaction is your fault?

3. What prompted you to share this information?

Darth Whitey said...

1. I don't know

2. Because it's visceral and thus involuntary

3. Because this is a forum dealing with these questions and I was hoping to get some insight as to why I feel this way. You see, it's all about me and my feelings. Nevermind how it affects you /s

Anonymous said...

You know what, use GPS jammer to disable all secret transmitters in your room or office.

Brenda said...

Darth,

What exactly did you find so revolting about this situation?

Darth Whitey said...

The more I think about it the more I think it also had to do with the poor little girl herself, she had these annoying pig tails, no expression of any kind on her face, and she looked pretty unhealthy and skinny and stuff so she wasn't cute. Today I saw pictures of more children being adopted and they were real cute so I dunno. Maybe if it had been some gangly un-cute slavic kid I'd have been revolted too but I doubt it. It just seemed forced and unnatural or something. I guess that makes me racist. What can I do? Sorry folks. At least I admit it.

Darth Whitey said...

I guess the question is not whether one is inherently racist but whether they act on it to discriminate. I think the term racist implies that the discomfort with POCs automatically means they are intolerant and discriminate. I do not discriminate.

It's like a psychopath who has urges to murder people, well that's not his choice, he can't help it. But if he gives in and goes on a spree then he can be condemned. Same with people who are attracted to children. As long as they never act on it then it's merely a thought crime.

So what can you do about racists and these other people? Send them to re-education camps, clamping their eyes open like in A Clockwork Orange to try to change their wiring like in A Clockwork Orange? Some would argue then that gays have the same malfunction that needs repair (not me.)

So maybe the term racist has been overloaded, is there a term that describes someone with a visceral discomfort for something (or an unusual liking for things) but does not act upon it to discriminate or break the law? An asshole? But doesn't being an asshole require a will to be the thing that makes one an asshole?

Sorry yall

Deacon Blue said...

Thank you Big Man, for confirming for me the rat-ness of ole Chuck.

I was certain he was a rat, though my wife and son keep telling me he's a mouse. I was pretty sure I knew my stuff, because Chuck E. Cheese was born where I grew up. I was raised on Chuck, back when they had animatronic heads on the walls, no jungle gym setups, no tokens, and lots of video arcade games.

Turns out he really was a rat originally, and they re-marketed in as a mouse in the mid 1990s.

Now, as to your post itself...creepy girl. Bad situation for you to try to resolve. And sorry yours is as hellish as most locations I've heard of. Our local franchise is a fairly sedate one fortunately.

Brenda said...

Darth,

I'm still having a hard time understanding how your reaction to seeing what you perceive as an unattractive child who just happened to be a black Haitian makes you a racist?

I seen my fair share of unattractive, downright ugly white children. So by that measure I'm a racist?

Hmmmm...okay. I thought that was just me being incredibly insensitive and superficial, judging a person on their physical appearance.

Darth Whitey said...

Whew! Thanks for exonerating me Brenda hehe. Maybe you're right!

Shady_Grady said...

Anybody cutting in line or otherwise breaking the rules is subject to correction. Period. Race, gender or age don't matter.

Big Man said...

Shady

You would think that, but you didn't read the story I read about folks getting shot and cut at Chuck E. Cheese.

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Avril Simpson

Raving Black Lunatic