Friday, July 8, 2011

Reflections on a Week

We sat around at the fairgrounds waiting for the fireworks to start. We got there a little too early this year, so it was a long wait. However, between rounds of Uno and other card games, it gave me plenty of time to observe people.

The people were divided into two main groups: families (like us) and young people. Mostly, the families are uninteresting. I mean, they're busy corralling their kids just like we are. Or not corralling them, as was the case for most of them. I spend a fair amount of time trying to prevent my children from running amok, so there's not much interest for me in watching other people's children do so. Still, it was mildly amusing when the 4ish year old boy a few plots over grabbed a miniature lightsaber with both hands and attached it to his crotch and proceeded to act like he was peeing with it. Not that that in and of itself was amusing, but his mother started laughing uncontrollably and pointing the behavior out to everyone (strangers) around her. Of course, the positive feedback from his mother spurred him on to spin and dance around while holding the lightsaber in place. (I'm just not thinking the same behavior from a little girl would have been tolerated, much less encouraged.) This lasted until he spun himself so out of control that he could no longer stand.

When I say the other group was made of young people, that's not entirely accurate. I should say that the other category of people was made up of roving bands of young girls. Like packs of wild dogs roaming the streets in some post-apocalyptic world. Generally, 5 or 6 of them. Never fewer than 3. Hunting. Aged anywhere from 12 to 25. Mostly in short shorts and low cut shirts with artificial assistance to display their... assets. (Well, except for the 1 girl in a thin, white tank top with nothing beneath it except herself. There was nothing artificial there.) Roaming the crowd looking for stray boys. The problem being that there were no stray boys. And this is the part I find interesting. These kinds of events always attract groups of girls. Girls out to snag guys. But the guys don't show up for them.

Not that there were no guys. But the guys that were there were very obviously already attached. Like the guy behind us. He was there with his girl and 4 of her friends. I know this, because they had me take a group picture of them. The guy sat in his spot all night except for one foraging trip to the concession stands. Accompanied trip. Because it would be too dangerous for his girl to let him go off alone with so many predators around. No groups of guys wandering around looking for like-sized groups of girls, though. None.

Somewhere in there something is wrong. It's certainly not like the malls back in the 80s. Yes, there were the same packs of girls, but there were also guys. Mostly huddled in the gloom of the arcade hypnotized by flashing lights and the sounds of Donkey Kong. Or the food court. Of course, if you were in the book store, like me, you were safe. Completely safe. Better than hiding under a rock.

My daughter eats a lot. When I say a lot, I mean constantly. Like a hummingbird. We think she has a black hole in her stomach. I spend hours everyday trying to keep her in food. Which is in direct opposition to her desire to play. There was a watermelon eating contest for kids at the fairgrounds. I'm not exactly sure how they were defining kids, though. My daughter desperately wanted a snow cone. A $5 snow cone. Which I refused to buy. $5 for a cup of ice? What the heck is that about? The prize for the watermelon eating contest was a free snow cone, and the entry fee for the contest was only $1. So we let her enter. At this point, I'd like to point out that my daughter is 8. She was the youngest kid to enter at the time she was doing it. All girls and except for one other, all over 12. Did I mention the fact that it was all girls? One of those roving packs of girls, one other girl (with her father), and my daughter. She was upset because of all the big girls in the contest and feared she couldn't win. At the last moment, they split it into two groups: all the over 12s and all the under 12s. That just left one girl against my daughter, so it was a pretty easy win for her. However, she came in second out of the whole group. Pretty amazing. And she got her snow cone.

They have this thing here on Wednesday nights during  the summer called, in all originality, Wednesday Night Market. It's what it sounds like. Local businesses and farmers set up stalls and sell stuff in the streets of down town. We bought some great peaches. My kids got to hold some snakes and a newt at a booth being run by the local herpetological society. My daughter, who is pretty fearless, adamantly refused to touch the snakes. Until her brother did. He's a cautious lad. Perhaps overly cautious. His first reaction was also no. Which is what I expected from him (but not from his sister). After looking at all the snakes in boxes, though, and watching all the other people hold them (and wear them), he finally piped up, "I want to hold one." As soon as he had it in his hands, his sister had to do it, too. No, she's not competitive.

Although the crowd at the market is a bit more eclectic than the crowd for the fireworks (which I'm going to blame on the farmers' market section), there were still those densely knotted groups of girls wandering through the crowds looking for the non-existent guys. Again, any guys there were definitely already owned.

There was also a trip to the Academy of Sciences museum in San Francisco. We just renewed our family plan with them, so there should be, at least, a few more trips there within the next year. The albino alligator was doing well after a recent algae cleaning. My daughter was completely engrossed in trying to count the number of moray eels. And she made a friend in the rain forest:
Of course, then, my younger son also wanted to hold a butterfly, so he spent the rest of his time walking around with his finger out (Although my daughter hadn't been trying. It just landed on her). And trying to watch the frogs mate, which he also missed seeing. It was a fun day other than my daughter trying to constantly rush us on to the next thing before anyone else was finished with the thing we were on. That's just how she is.

That's most of the week. There will be reviews coming as soon as I can write them about Cars 2 and Super 8. I just want to point out (because I find it very (very) curious) that Pixar slams big oil in this movie, and it's the first of the Pixar movies to get bad reviews. Or less good reviews. Non-stellar reviews. But I'll talk more about that later.


  1. Roving packs of girls...what a unique observation.

    Young men are in high demand in my opinion. Especially true for those who are sexy (and all that attention ruins them in my opinion). Too much attention is never good for a person's development.

  2. I just loved this post. Beautiful description, and I so wanted to be right there at the watermelon eating contest, cheering on your daughter to win her yummy snow cone. What a victory! I must tell you, the 80's mall reference made me smile from ear to ear, because I so remember those days. Between Donkey Kong, Centipede, and Mrs. PacMan, we were guaranteed an entire night of fun. Except I always hated it when that ball-thingie on Centipede pinched my fingers.

    Great storytelling! Sounds like you guys had a really good time.

  3. Ah, people watching. Teen watching is even better. This post was quite amusing. I really thought my daughter was going to remain fearless, but she has suddenly delved into the world of fearing everything. She went from holding tarantulas (I have pictures to prove it) to screaming every time she sees a bug. Except for ladybugs and butterflies, basically. She also used to pet snakes, but would probably scream bloody murder if she saw one now (which would probably be good, as we live in rattlesnake territory, but still). I can only hope she will return to her former fearless state (within reasonable limits, of course) in the next couple years.

    Anyway, good for your daughter for kicking some watermelon booty! Way to teach her to be creative to get the things she wants.

    I haven't seen either of those movies yet, so I look forward to seeing them.

  4. Micahel: Yeah, roving packs of girls. Not the first time I've noticed that, either.

    I agree with you about the attention. As a nation, I'm sure we don't allow our children enough time, anymore, to run around and play unattended. And then there's all the e-attention devices. And I know that's not what you meant, exactly, but that's all part of it.

    Alyssia: Thanks :) And I'm glad I could give you a shot of nostalgia. I actually, sometimes, miss arcades. They were so short lived, but they were so great!

    Shannon: Ah, yeah, I know what you mean. My younger son started out completely fearless. Completely. Except for vacuum cleaners, that is. Not that he's scared, now, but he's possibly the most cautious kid I've never known. My daughter seems to have twinges in that direction every once in a while, but she's so competitive that it hasn't taken over, so far.