Tuesday night I chaperoned the Mayor’s Youth Action Council (MYAC) event called “Grill-Fest.” There were more than 300 teens and young adults at one of our community parks. The MYAC kids scheduled a skateboard and BMX bicycle stunt contest at the skateboard park and five bands at the shelter. I taught them about planned spontaneity by having them set up a volleyball net, a croquet court, and toss a bunch of Frisbees on the grass.
The crowd moved back and forth from the music to the skate-park to the volleyball and Frisbees. Alas, croquet attracted no one. We emptied 5 huge bags of charcoal into a super-sized grill and provided the utensils for anyone who wanted to cook out without the hassle of firing up their own. I wandered back and forth between the venues as did seven of the MYAC members. They were just flabbergasted at the flow. My job was to be the Buzz-kill and make eye contact with those people who seemed a little too well-oiled for their age, or bent upon bothering each other or strangers.
Other than a few nasty spills on the skate-park half-pipe, it turned out to be a very nice night. I handed out band aids and ice packs, and was in the middle of congratulating myself on the night’s success when five middle school-aged grinders started bashing on a beautiful oak shelter door with their skateboards. The door was closed and locked to keep them out of an off-limits area filled with band members personal items. It mattered not that they had been escorted out of the room twice prior to the door getting locked. They felt slighted and showed their righteous anger by smashing their wheels and hardware into the newly refinished hardwood. The day started at 5:30 AM, so I was on my last nerve, as the saying goes, when they acted out. They received a reaction that they may believe was a tad extreme based upon their effort, but I was tired, and hot so I gave it to them with both barrels.
The perfect moment-within-the-moment occurred as I escorted them out of the park. They were calling my gender, family history, sexual preference, and judgement to question when a beautiful, abeit, scantilly clad blonde young lady; pierced and tattooed in all the right/wrong places joined me on the road and addressed the boys. And I quote:
“It’s about fucking respect, you little pricks. Show the woman some respect and shut-the-fuck-up, you ass holes.”
“Thank you,” I said.
When compared with the passion she displayed in my defense, it seemed inadequate, but it was all I had. She thrust out her chin, and acknowledged my thanks with a bob of her head, before disappearing back into the crowd. Whatever the boys said after that didn’t register in my memory. I was buoyed in the same manner as the two hot air balloons that launched smack in the middle of the park, smack in the middle of our event. The angel of ass whoop had descended upon me and yea, though I walked in the valley of trash-talk, I feared no evil. (Except maybe her).
That night I couldn’t sleep because I had let myself get too dehydrated during the long day. My body informed me of this fact by cramping not just in a single muscle or immediate muscle group, but skeletally, structurally clamping down on blood flow and ramping up the pain. Side to side, front or back, it didn’t matter. I sucked down water until my hair was damp, but it was too late to stop the cascade. At 2 AM I ended up in a reclyner downstairs. Every ten minutes or so I would get up and shuffle around to keep the blood flowing. I finally fell asleep around four. I didn’t go into work until after ten, but the world seemed to manage without me.
I have scheduled some half-days the last week of the month so I can play in the garden or write. If I can’t stop the speeding train that is my typical summer, I can at least arrange to spend some time in the observation car and enjoy the view.