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Monday, June 23, 2008

Yeah! Still Got It! (In Honor of My Sister In Law's Thirty Eighth Birthday*)

This weekend was perfect. In order to secure our future reputation as cool parents, we took the big kids to their first concert. We left the baby with reluctantly willing doting grandparents who couldn't wait to stay up all night comforting him in between piecing together everything he had broken spend time with that adorable and perfectly behaved toddler. We loaded the big kids into the Prius and headed for Atlanta to see The National, Modest Mouse and...drumroll...wait for it...here it is...R.E.M.! We did this because, years from now, they'll be hanging out with college friends and having this conversation.

"What was your first concert?"

"Britney Spears." The other kids will laugh.

"The Wiggles." Boring!

"[Some Christian Band No One Has Ever Heard Of.]" Awkward silence or laughter, depending on who claims this one.

"Shania Twain." Eh. Then it'll be my kid's turn.

"Oh," he'll say with practiced savoir faire, "My parents took us to R.E.M. when I was 10 (or 7, if the X-Man is talking). Modest Mouse and the National opened."

Awe-filled silence will follow, broken finally by someone saying,

"Whoa. Your parents were so cool, man!"

Yeah, we are. And it was an absolute blast, by the way. The kids went nuts. The crowd seemed to be full of genuinely nice people, like the guy next to O. with all the tattoos who talked to him like they were both veterans of the music scene. Or the man on the other side who moved a few feet away every time he wanted to smoke. Or the people behind us who yelled, "Yeah! Those kids are out of control!" when security asked them not to sit on the backs of their seats. They yelled it in a way that made the kids feel like the biggest rock star rebels in the ampitheatre. It was so cool. And Michael Stipe seems like a damn good egg. He talked about music and politics just enough and it seemed like he really liked the audience. Refreshing, isn't it? I guess that's what it's like when you're so awesome you have nothing to prove. And I think it's fair to say that Michael Stipe is there and then some.

The next day, my sister in law V and I managed to talk our husbands into taking the kids back in one car, so we could stay in Atlanta to explore everyone's favorite Scandinavian shopping Mecca, Ikea. It was as cool as I remembered, but that's neither here nor there. We left an hour or so after lunch. After driving around downtown Atlanta for forty-five minutes trying to find the highway, V really had to go to the can. I'm always up for going to the can, so we stopped at a gas station about an hour outside of Atlanta.

There were some warning signs in the parking lot. A creepy looking couple (perhaps a pimp and one of his employees!) waiting in a car, for no apparent reason. A truck or two, and signs advertising "Showers," but not "Clean Showers." While V was in the bathroom, I went in search of my favorite road trip chips, Jalapeño Cheddar by Cape Cod, and a bottle of water. As she exited, she informed me, under her breath,

"There's a paper towel on the floor by the toilet. It is Not. Mine."

She shuddered as she said it. I'll spare you a description of what was on the towel.

I do so hate one-uppy sort of people, but the paper towel was nothing compared to what I endured while she luxuriated in the flickering fluorescent light of the filthy toilet. As I was looking for my chips, a man in sweat pants approached me. He wasn't particularly sleazy looking, nor was he particularly attractive. He extended his card.

"I'm a bouncer at [Insert Not-So-Vaguely Suggestive Name of Club Here, Such as "Booty Shakers" or Perhaps "House of Totally Nude"] If you want to come by with any of your lady friends, I could hook you up."

I was torn. At my age, it's oddly flattering to have someone even hint at the possibility of me becoming a stripper...or something. Less flattering when the offer is being extended at a truck stop by someone in sweat pants, but still. Then there was the fear thing. I didn't relish the idea of being abducted and forced to shake it (or worse) in the back room of a truck stop in a small town. And I don't think the nicer gentlemen's clubs are hiring pallid ladies with saggy bits and c-section scars. I do apologize for that visual, by the way.

"Thank you so much," I said with a friendly smile, because I hate to be rude, "But we're from out of town!"

I didn't take the card. The exchange was oddly unscary, so maybe he was just a nice guy who wanted to buy us a couple of Amaretto Sours while we watched the dancers. I'll never know. I made my way into the bathroom and there were several things that made me suddenly not need to go all that bad. We left quickly. I made V. pay for my chips so we wouldn't have to go to the cashier twice. And I wanted to save two dollars. How cheap is that?

I also wanted to leave as quickly as possible so I could tell V. about our job offer. She wasn't interested, either. She did point out a coincidence I completely missed. Right before we pulled into the gas station, we had been talking about a conversation I had the other day with the X-Man.

"Mom, do you know what 'pimp' means?"

"Yes. Do you?" I'm not embarrassed by this stuff yet. I suspect our conversations will feel more awkward a few years from now.

"I think I do. It means 'colorful.' That's what O. told me."

I explained that, while some people may use it that way, originally the word referred to a man who sells women. I saw no need to get more specific, as slavery is clearly wrong in the eyes of a seven year old. I explained that pimps used to be known for wearing colorful, flashy clothes, which is why people use the word "pimp" to mean colorful. I told him it wasn't even accurate, because pimps often wear sweatpants and stained t-shirts and hang out at filthy truck stops. I didn't really tell him that last part. I also didn't tell him that it's wrong to stereotype people, even pimps, some of whom might dress very tastefully. I thought that might confuse the issue. In conclusion,

"I don't think we should use that word, even if we just mean 'colorful,' because the original meaning is hurtful."

He agreed. That was easy. I'll save my lecture on using nouns as adjectives or verbs for another day. That's just too scary for a little kid to handle.

Namasté, y'all!

* Hmmm...hope she isn't one of those people who likes to keep her age a mystery. If she is, I may edit that later!

4 comments:

Blog O' Beth said...

I'm sitting here at my desk at 11:00 at night doing the "silent-giggle" thing because the kids are asleep, but I just laughed so hard I peed. And although I too would be torn between flattered and horrified I think I would go with flattered. You shake that c-section scar girl! I bet its awesome!!

atomicblonde said...

uh, yeah. i TOLD you it was a good show...now you've fulfilled one of your life-long dreams!

Annie said...

Atomicblonde - my kids owe you, because it really was your post about the show that made me go ahead and plan the trip!

Skye said...

And here I thought I was the only one who believes that using the word "pimp" so casually was a bad idea...