Monday, February 07, 2005

Those Books and Their Covers!

Perhaps not the ultimate people-watching opportunity but certainly a reminder of the "melting pot" status of the good ol' USofA is Mardi Gras in Galveston. For one thing, it's not New Orleans so we're not talking "Girls Gone Wild" video footage in the making. Families enjoy this parade.

On Saturday night I was struck by four distinct forms of family.

The first group was a Hispanic couple with their almost 3 year old daughter. She was dressed in a fluffy white coat -- which they said would stay white since she was such an obsessive child about cleanliness, totally contradicting the fact that I had just watched her dig her little index finger in the dirt along the crack in the sidewalk. We learned they were from Houston, in Galveston for the weekend, they'd not been to a parade since the baby was born, etc. As usual the child was a bead magnet with every float falling in love with her and dishing out all manner of prizes to the mom. We LIKED them.

The next group was an African-American family that include a tall beautiful mom, a shorter and stocky dad, a maybe 5 or 6 year old son that they kept pulling back from the chaos at roadside, and a 7th grader who was the nicest young man of that age I've been around in a while. At first quiet, they warmed to us and we definitely LIKED them.

A surprise was the five or six Hispanic youth who had "don't mess with us, we're trouble" written in invisible ink on their bandanas and t-shirts and what not. Initially fearful of them, something possessed me to stand up for my inability to stand tall and when they almost fell on me for the sixth time as they crowded in front of me to grab the thrown beads, I loudly declared, "I'm short and I'm older than you so move on down the road and give me some room." What I loved about that moment is that they stopped in their tracks, looked at me and did exactly as I said. Even the African American mom was impressed with me. Once they moved out of my way, I even LIKED them.

And then there was THAT group . . . the ones who came late, crowded in, chain smoked around the children and kept downing coke and crowns as if they were going to stop producing liquor any minute now. They were all heavy set, all unkempt, all near or close to three sheets in the wind and we did NOT like them.

I was sort of amazed at the diversity. And how each group was so very distinct. And then I began writing this and realized that any one of these groups might have relished describing my little band as well. Three men and one woman, middle aged, gregarious, talkative, obviously very comfortable with one another and not one of them looked married to the other . . . hmmmmmm wonder what their story is????

Can't judge a book by its cover, can you?

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