I have to say my social and political views are so far left that they’re out in left field. I tend to be a live and let live person who enjoys finding out what other people think. I personally think we all should take care of each other. I’m the kind of person who tries to find the owner of lost objects (that are now ‘found’, because I find them). I take in stray animals, and stand up for people who are being bullied.
I’m currently living in an area that I grew up in.
My area that can be described as ‘up and coming’ – actually, it’s pretty rough around the edges. I live in an apartment building where prostitutes had a unit on the 17th floor and teenaged marijuana smokers hid in the stairwells. Cops would be parked out front on long weekends when too much alcohol leads to domestic disputes.
I actually like living here. The people are very friendly (even the prostitutes would say hi to the kids) and most of the folks in the building know each other. If you don’t know someone you are still expected to chat with them if you’re in the elevator together or passing in the halls. Folks talk about the weather, weekend plans, the latest problems in the laundry room, kids or dogs.
I’ve given out extra diapers to new moms I meet in the elevators and made friends in the process. In our entire 17 story building there is only ONE person who does not talk to anyone in the elevator. So we all talk about him.
We have a fantastic community where most folks are well below the poverty line, or working damn hard to stay above it. A local church group is a regular visitor in our building, helping folks at Christmas time or whenever they need extra food or clothes for their kids. You could call us white trash – but I think someone would beat you up first.
I’ve been following lazyhippiemama’s Theological Thursdays post for a while, and her experiences with the church (and reasons for leaving it, then returning in her own way) make sense to me. I am not a religious person, but I strongly believe many religions have good points (and not-so-good points).
This leads to today’s events.
I am a regular visitor at my community’s readiness centre. This is a free preschool program for parents and children. The day runs something like a kindergarten program with free play, activity choices and circle time. I take Baby Dunk and Little Miss Adorable. Little Miss Adorable plays with the other toddlers and loves doing the crafts. Baby Dunk loves creeping around and chewing toys.
The centre has run many different community events, and follows whatever our school board does. Chinese New Year? Gong Hei Fat Choy. Diwali? Bring on the light. Day of Pink? (aka International Day against Bullying, Discrimination, Homophobia and Transphobia) My whole family wore pink.
Day of Pink was controversial at our centre. Some of the mothers from conservative religions were very upset at the event. Those mothers questioned me on why my baby boy was wearing pink. I said I support the rights for people to be themselves and not be bullied. (Truthfully, I am a huge gay rights advocate and have many gay friends, but, I wanted to keep our conversation simple.) Those mothers refused to let their children participate in any Day of Pink activities, and ripped the Day of Pink stickers from their children’s hands.
We all thought it was a little extreme, but typical for those mothers.
(Who’s being judgemental now?)
Those mothers would always race across the room to help me with my two non-walking children. They would hold Baby Dunk until he fell asleep. Those mothers would sit with Little Miss Adorable at the craft table and help her put glitter everywhere. They would wash her hands afterward and then help her play with the baby dolls.
Those mothers are my friends.
Bring on today.
I was staying at the centre with Baby Dunk and Little Miss Adorable over lunch; it was just myself and another mother. This mother always looks like she stepped off a runway, and ALWAYS has a perfect pedicure and 4” high heels. Hairs, make-up, clothes are always perfect. (Yes, she only has one kid, and he’s in kindergarten.)
She drives a really expensive car. She wears really expensive clothes. Her shoe collection is cutting edge.
In short, she has money.
I’ve been trying to chat with her all year. I try open topics of conversation; about the area, her son, whatever. After a brief reply she picks up a magazine and starts reading.
I do not think I am so hard to have a conversation with. I chat with countless folks in my building and chat with everyone else at the centre.
I thought she was shy.
Now I know I’m being snobbed off.
She will talk to some of the other moms, you know the cool ones with stylish (and not-too expensive) sunglasses and clothes.
One of the new families at the centre are recovering methadone addicts. Both He and She. I say this because they told me. I was the first parent they talked to. I’m also pretty well the only parent they talk to because they are snobbed off by almost everyone else. Yes, both parents are missing their lower front teeth. Yes, He is covered in tattoos. Yes, She talks about random things and you have weird conversations, especially about her cats. Yes, their baby was born addicted to methadone (they talk about life in the NICU).
I pass over my old clothes for Her. They pass over baby shoes their son out grew for my kids. She told me about her family (they own a strip club) and that He is ‘basically institutionalized because he spent so much time in jail.’
They are nice people. They sit on the floor and sing during circle time. They play with all the kids. They are bringing a cake for their son’s birthday. They whisper about people who will ‘kick you, when you’re down on your luck.’ They talk about the stuff our community church group gave them for the baby.
They also live in my building. So we’ve become friendly.
Unlike the fashionable mom.
Today when the fashionable mom and I were alone in the centre she was forced to have a conversation with me.
I will say, I did not look too fashionable. My shorts were practically falling off due to post-baby weight loss, my white T-shirt covered in yellow curry stains. Old flip-flops? Check. And pedicure? Let’s pass on that.
Our conversation went to the activities of gay men in our local park. (Yes, it’s that kind of park.) I mentioned how last year I called the police and city officials because I was not happy stumbling upon gay men popping out of the bushes as I pushed a stroller down the bike path at 10 AM. (Yes, 10 o’clock in the morning and men were popping out of the bush, scaring the cr@p out of me.)
Let me tell you those men were not friendly toward me, and some stared too long at Mr. Sensitive. (I’m not even going into the history of the park and young men I went to school with, but, let’s say there is one. And it’s not good.)
It’s also the kind of park that drug dealers arrange pick-up and delivery from. (Don’t ask how I know.)
So, in the interests of being able to take my kids to the playground at 10 o’clock in the morning and not stumbling into illegal activities – never mine confronting someone who is engaged in said illegal activities (talk about awkward!) – I made the phone calls.
I told her how police surveillance increased and the men seeking men went into hiding.
I mentioned my concerns about Mr. Sensitive.
It wasn’t so much of what she said; it was how she said it. The condescension dripped from her voice, “You know, they’re not going to attack you. They’re just closeted men, looking for someone. They’re at the park on their breaks from work. I’m not worried about it; at least I know they’re not looking at me.”
I felt snobbed off again. I realise this liberal b*tch has been treating me like some uneducated piece of white trash.
I thought of Robert Munsch’s The Paperbag Princess, where the heroine, dressed in a brown paperbag, tells her Prince:
Your Hair is nice. Your clothes are nice. You look like a Prince. But you are a bum.
I might just slash the tires of her nice, expensive car. That’ll learn her.