Tuesday, January 17, 2006

the french horn has not gone home to the french

It's a week of sho nuff birthdays. Steven's and MLK's on Sunday. Natalie's (and MLK's recognition) on Monday. Schmin's is Thursday. Then on the 29th I've got my dad.

While I didn't knit for Nat or Dr. King, I made washcloths for Steven and included them in a spa kit and I'm currently working on a k2/p2 ribbed scarf with a matching hat for Schmin. I interrupted Lake Erie to start Schmin's stuff today. Okay. So I'm not the most organized and on-time mother, but it's not my fault that I started Schmin's gift so late. I'd ordered Paton's Up Country from that Mary Maxim website and wouldn't you know it took them almost 2 weeks to write and tell me they didn't have the charcoal color I wanted? Shit. All they had was Silver Mist or whatever the hell color it is. Schmin's favorite colors are black, dark gray, and cream, in that order, and I was not about to pass off any Silver Mist on him for his 21st birthday. That's a big birthday, you know? You should get what you want. Bubba's got the strip club covered. All I wanted was to be on duty with the charcoal gray. So his gift will be late and the bizarre thing is I think he's actually looking forward to having something made by me.

He seems to like me and Steven lately. He's never had beef with the Bubba, who joined the parental shift late and has a level of finesse I haven't seen before or since. But Steven and I, who were dumb enough to go around saying things like, Hey, you have to get out of bed to pass that science test. And, You're 19, is it too much to ask that you think about getting a job? And, What do you mean you're going to take in some TV because you missed the bus? Well, we were the enemy.

But a couple days ago when I expressed awe that Steven is 40, which means that for all intents and purposes, so am I, Schmin said, Yeah, but he's so young. You too, Ma. Both of you do everything and go places, you're having fun. I hope when I'm 40 I'm still young like you guys.

This could be commentary on both my and Steven's level of maturity (or lack thereof). I mean, look who's giving the compliment. A very soon to be 21-year-old who has so far shown himself solely dedicated to finger-popping across the country. But I'd prefer to take it as proof that we still live and dream and savor. Because we do. And finger-popping or no finger-popping, Schmin is an intelligent, intuitive person. Maybe he sees us as we really are.

I can't speak for Steven, but so much of who I am is who I was. Sandra Cisneros wrote it in one of her Woman Hollering Creek stories, what people don't realize about turning 7 or 8 or 9 or 40 is that you're still all the ages you were before you turned the new age.

I thought a lot about this yesterday, when our good friends Dean and Efuru invited my friend V and me to watch LA's King Day Parade at their house. They live right on the parade route, so all we had to do was pitch a few chairs near their lawn. I figured it wasn't too much to stop and acknowledge a man who, when you think about it, definitely deserved to chum around with Jesus, had they walked the earth at the same time. I was watching the parade, having a funky good time, happy to see so much inclusion -- from Japanese business organizations to Black churches to Mexican non-profits to Chinese martial arts groups to the Hari Krishnas -- when the high school marching bands would come by and my attention would trail after them until they were out of sight. Especially the girls. And when there was a drill team, well.

Seeing those groups of young twirling, dancing, golden girls ricocheted me back to 9th grade. Sucky 9th grade. And all the sucky grades after 9th grade. The thing is movement has never been my strong suit. I love to dance but I've got a misfiring synapse. The action between my brain and my hips is broken. When I went out for 9th grade cheerleading, the squad leader took one look at me, pompoms flailing this way and that, and told me to go home. A colored girl with no rhythm is like a fish with a bicycle.

While I kept thanking The God of My Understanding that now at least I can knit, V was on the lookout for the French horn. The French horn was her baby back in high school band. She was the little girl with the big horn. When the first band came by, boy were we excited. It was a pretty good sized band with crisp uniforms and an impressive array of instruments. But no French horn. By the fifth or sixth band, we gave up hope. This made me feel sadder than I usually do that this generation of kids is so different from ours. Things have changed so much that I can hardly begin to relate. My usual solution is to pretend no one under 21 exists. And now America's youth had gone and abandoned the French horn, a perfectly respectable and fine sounding instrument.

After a while I pulled out Lake Erie and attempted a few rows, basked in other aspects of the parade. There was Congresswoman Maxine Waters, who's got to be kicking the hell of out 70 and walks the entire parade route in stilettos. There was the hottie hot hot mayor of Los Angeles, Anthony Villaraigosa, pictured above shaking hands with V and me (right before he reached Efuru, who clobbered him with a kiss). There was a big-butt lady who literally showed her ass, prompting someone in the crowd to remark, She's giving a new meaning to the word "parade." There was even a float from our church, Agape. But none of it was enough to stop me watching the dancing girls, wondering how they do it like that, and V from scoping for the French horn.

Near the parade's end, we declared it good, which it was, and just as we were about ready to fold up our chairs and go home there came the famous Dominquez High School Marching Band, clad, ironically, in black and gold, my high school colors. Born to headline, Dominguez featured dancing girls kicking so high you'd have thought they were trying to send the angels a message, and there, first row third from the left, teasing the remaining sunshine, a French horn.


Ellen Bloom said...

It was a perfect day for a parade!!! We caught the last of the parade at the north end of Crenshaw....very impressive. Yes, I agree...Mayor Tony has a magnificent smile and is extremely good looking (qualities that a Mayor of LaLa Land should posses).

sappmama said...

I call him the babe-o-mayor. :)

afrowalking said...

recently so caught up in NY nostalgia i had forgotten about the parade and that beloved wink at the end ... the angels were indeed listening ... thank you.