Monday, October 06, 2008

It's what's inside that counts

As part of my policy of getting out of the house at least once a day, Tovah and I make regular trips to Big Y. By "regular," I mean "at least six times a week." Sometimes we go more than once a day, but this is because we live across the street (translation: no wasting of gas) and Tovah goes in the stroller (translation: I can't fit that much in a basket).

The parking lot is not very pedestrian-friendly. The crosswalks are in weird places, drivers don't look where they're going, and there aren't a lot of curb cuts. (Side note: the more we've gone out with the stroller, the more aware I've become of accessibility issues. Like wheelchairs, strollers aren't designed to hop curbs.) We try to use the sidewalk in front of some of the stores, but we can't always get around the bags of Quik-Krete in front of the hardware store or the cigarette-smoking men in fatigues in front of the military recruitment office. Thus, we frequently end up walking amongst the parked cars.

Every weekday afternoon, the parking lot is chock-full of junior high students. Most kids around here walk or ride their bikes to school, and on their way home they all converge at Friendly's for ice cream and french fries. Let me tell you, I feel really old when I'm pushing a stroller through a pubescent crowd.

The other day we walked by a young fellow on a bike. "Casey, my little African-American friend!" he called to a friend of his who was several yards away.

Both Casey and his buddy were decidedly Nordic in appearance.

I will never understand the early adolescent male.


Anonymous said...

So, you heard a joke the subtext to which you are not aware of. Why would you assume that it had anything to do with these two people being male, young or otherwise? Would you feel comfortable if I were to site examples of confusing or quirky behavior and attribute it to the participants being female or adult?

Gerbil said...

Anon: sometimes inside jokes are amusing to the outsider for reasons entirely different from their original context.

Anonymous said...

Yes, granted. The concern of my comment, however, was that this episode somehow confirmed your belief in the “otherness” of young, adolescent males. My suspicion is that the same comment, were it made by a man about two women or by a white person about two members of an ethnic minority, it would instantaneously become unacceptable. Personally, as a young, adolescent male, I wish adults would spend more time trying to understand me and less joking about how alien I am.

Gerbil said...

Anon: yup, I too know what it's like to be marginalized and construed as the Other--in adulthood as well as in (female) adolescence.

Anyway, I don't actually believe that there's such a thing as "the adolescent male"--people of any age and any gender are just too complex to be reduced to a single, "typical" case.

You do make a very good point, though, about fun being in the eye of the beholder. Thank you for calling me on it so articulately.