Friday, February 4, 2011


It was hard to get comfortable. I was out of place. The couple of guys and the girlfriend brought along for one of them were half drunk and working on another quarter when the usher kicked them out of our seats.

Apologies, apologies, they cried.

"Sorry man, we didn't mean to steal your seats."

"I thought he knew what he was doing."

The two men grinned and stumbled to their seats a row or so over.

We filed in. I guarded the aisle and handed out 29 cent earplugs. I'd never been to a monster truck rally and had little interest in attending this one, but I also have a five-year-old boy and all of the little boys in his daycare are interested in trucks. Because they are interested, so is Emmett --at least for now --though I doubt it will last.

We watched and he caught the attention of the two drunks in the row behind behind us. While I was trying to keep him from crippling the man in front of us with the toe of his rain boot, the boy was mugging and entertaining. They'd brought their own bunch of kids, but they thought my son was a riot. They liked him. So, when one of them went off to fetch another round of beer, he returned with a glowing fan.

"I hope you don't mind," the man said and handed it to Emmett. "Children are precious."

He seemed sincere and besides the fan was already in the boy's hands. I'd have had to have cut them off to get him to let loose, but it was a generous gesture. I thanked him and had my son do the same.

The drunk smiled. It made him happy, too.

We watched the trucks do their fascinating mechanical ballet until intermission, when Emmett announced he needed to go to the bathroom. So, shedding a pretty cumbersome package of licensed merchandise and candy, we went.

Everybody had the same idea at once, of course. Hey, the trucks aren't jumping over cars, time to take a piss. You had to navigate through the herd. You had to scan and look and move quickly like finding a parking space at the mall with a dozen voices yattering away in ever direction.

One caught my ear.

"The damned Jews," he said and I turned to see who said it. "The Jews, you know? The Jews."

It was a kid, probably 12, talking to another kid, probably 12. I couldn't make out why he was saying what he was saying, only that it seemed like the strangest thing coming out of the mouth of a 12 year-old.

I looked around. What was I supposed to do? I was trying to bring a small and precocious child through a crowd of men in a restroom, a child who needed to pee --now. Was I supposed to confront the kid, tell him to grow up or at least say, "Hey, that's not cool?"

Part of me wanted to. Part of me wanted to stop the moment and have a weird little discussion about race in a men's room at a monster truck rally. Sure, I could have opened up the floor for discussion. Instead, I pivoted around him with my kid and took the urinal he'd been moving toward.

I guess he could blame the fucking Irish if he wanted to.


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