August 04, 2004
Ik Kijk Niet
Five summers, and the fireworks thing has begun to gel for me, so that this year, as I walked along the sea wall to my usual spot, all the bitter-sweet tangents emerged nostalgic and strong. For example, I love the way all the faces were turned in earnest to the fire in the sky, smiling freely as they never do when they're downtown to shop. The excited families name each spectacle of light, and applaud the fancy ones, raising their children up high.
Tonight, I especially loved the serious-faced little boy, turned in the opposite direction to the thousands around him. He was back to back with his parents, who were enjoying the show, and his arms were crossed. I crouched down by his protest.
"You don't like them?" I whispered. He looked at me calmly, and said something strong-minded in a language I do not know. He repeated it for emphasis, and I nodded, loving the funny headstrong kid. (A newspaper today said that one in fifty children surveyed, given options amongst an array of family and friends, would rather play alone.)
But against this, there is of course the giant bank logo emblanzoned on the barge; sponsorship somehow granting the sponsor the right to gratuitous self-identification — so what if we know ads manipulate people?; because we know ads manipulate people. Kids identifying logos at nine months old.
There is the kite-cut-from-the-string feel of youth culture: wasted suburban teenagers going around bleary-eyed and screaming. The boys threaten each other, and the girls fall down so they have to be caught. They are dangerously drunk, and the catch-and-release treatment of their childhood alcoholism — cuff, pour out the bottle, uncuff — really just condones it all. The city is theirs tonight.
Meanwhile, murders at night clubs caused by peers a few years older are called gang-violence; that's not this, of course. Meanwhile again, I haven't been to a fireworks in memory without seeing some native adult caught and not let go. It's because they're aggressive when they're drunk, the cops always say.
"Are you okay?" I asked tonight's scape-goat, an Inuit man cuffed on the curb outside of that upscale restauant with the view of the beach.
"This fat honky wants to kick in my head," he lamented quietly. I understood that language enough. I nodded.
Suddenly it's good cop, bad cop: one tells me the guy is dangerous and for my own safety I should go, the other tells Ma'am to back off. There's no good cop. The Inuit man doesn't look in too rough of shape for a guy in cuffs, so I say goodnight and hope to hell the fat honky doesn't kick his head in tonight.
It is constantly challenging to live in the West End, especially at the best of times.
Posted by delire at August 4, 2004 12:38 AM