Okay, a week has gone by and it's time for some more thoughts. I heard a great talk this morning in my spiritual community about how we come into this world pre-wired to buy into group-think depending on our culture. What we're taught from the moment we land on the planet (and some would argue this happens even prior) forms our outlook and behaviors from that point forward. Of course we can un-learn and re-learn things (otherwise, I'd have to retire), but we have to at least know to question. I was hanging out doing my laundry at the coin-op a few weeks ago...I hate that just about more than anything else in my world...and looking around for some distraction so I wouldn't go into trance watching the dryer spin. I'd like to share this with you (remember, this blog is about creativity in its many forms...things often tumble out of me onto paper, or more accurately onto the computer screen. Sometimes they're fiction, sometimes they're fact. This one is fact):
I hate laundry day. I am a trapped audience to the cacophony of a football game from a TV strapped to the corner of the room. Two children careen down the narrow aisle, one pushing the other, just missing the toes of a baby crawling on the dirty floor leaving a trail of drool like a snail. A man in a tattered jacket stares transfixed at an empty dryer. A husband and wife bicker over bleach, of all things. She throws a towel at him.
As a diversion, I turn my attention to a family unloading three baskets of laundry. I notice first the toddler. She is two at the most, with soft brown ringlets circling a cherubic face, and large round eyes that both absorb and reflect the perplexing world of the Saturday morning coin op laundry.
She wears a furry brown jacket over her denim jumpsuit and sports magenta flip flops on her bare feet. Tiny gold post earrings twinkle as she tosses her spring of curls. There is a slightly bruised look about her mouth as if she has sucked one too many popsicles. An infectious smile lights up her whole countenance.
Her mother has faded copper colored hair--the kind that may have been strawberry blond as a child, and a round piglet face with an upturned nose. There's a large gap between her front teeth. Ashes fall from the corner of her mouth where a cigarette is wedged. She wears a white short-sleeved over-sized tee shirt with a sports emblem on the front and dark blue jeans that squeeze i njust under her butt. Her bottle glass lenses are housed in the silver frames popular in the sixties. In her Jersey-affected butch voice she's using to direct the sorting of clothes, I expect her to yell, "Yo, Chico, que pasa" across the street to the guy lounging against a signal light post, smoking a cigarette.
The child's father fades i and out of view with his mousy brown hair tied back in a scraggly ponytail as he stoops to unload the basket then stretches to empty the contents into a washer. His faded white tee shirt doesn't quite cover his pot belly and the skin before the jeans begin reminds me of a late summer melon. His teeth are crooked and he wears a perpetually stupid expression on his face as if his mind vacated his body earlier in the day.
Uncle John, as the mother refers to the biker dude with the slicked back hair, has a bristle of moustache, and a gold earring in one ear. Tatoos slither out from under the sleeve of his black body hugging tee shirt and crawl down his arm. They sneak up over his white ass and sneer at me as he bends to retrieve a sock from the floor. Uncle John ruffles the toddler's curly hair as he passes, gives her tiny shoulder a playful squeeze, and lifts her up at one point so she can throw a pair of boxer shorts into the washer.
From around her cigarette, the mother yells, "Sock Uncle John in the belly," apropos of no particular interaction, as if suggestion a new game.
The toddler looks hesitant, glances from mother to uncle. Her lips part slightly.
"Go on, sock him hard," mother encourages. Father snickers vacantly and leans against the washer. Uncle John squats to her level, bares his stomach, and encourages the toddler with a nod of his head.
The toddler makes a fist and hurls herself fist first into her uncle's stomach. The adults laugh. The toddler looks around for cues. It seems she's done well. A smile breaks around her puffy mouth.
"Now, hit him like you mean it," mother coaches.
The child blinks her lack of understanding. "Go on," father encourages and throws a fake punch into the air. Compliant, the toddler again runs her small fist into uncle's muscular mid-section. The adults whoop with laughter. The toddler's eyes are glassy and she grins so broadly saliva trickles from the side of her mouth.
What have you learned about the world today, sweet child, I wonder?