Note to self: when you make your plans for Independence Day next year, make sure you have an Exit Strategy.
I happen to be a great planner. Let me rephrase that. I am a control freak who obsessively compulsively devises a step by step Outline for every Outing scheduled for our family. Independence Day is no exception.
“So, first we will arrive at the mall at 4:00, and get our prime parking spot. We will shop until 7 when the stores close, then eat at the restaurant where I have made reservations. We will take potty breaks after eating and then retire to the parking lot, where we will take out our chairs from the trunk of the car, and settle down to watch the wondrous display of fireworks provided by the amusement park next door without having to pay their entrance fee OR deal with their claustrophobic crowds.”
I must admit that the potty breaks were not in the initial Plan, but were wisely inserted by my husband and daughter.
Everything went according to the Plan. The problem was what had not been included in the Plan…
“Ouch, these ants keep biting me!” my daughter, Dimples, exclaimed. Apparently, our prime parking lot property was crawling with the critters, who seemed only interested in 10-year-old toes.
No problem. My husband, Cap’n Firepants, carved out a nice little spot in the trunk of the car for Dimples. And I tried not to concern myself with what the rest of the population of San Antonio, who had obviously posted some viral Tweet of my Plan and completely filled the parking lot , would think about a family who stashes their child in a car trunk.
Of course, once the fireworks started, Dimples realized her wonderful nest verged on child abuse due to the fact that it was facing the wrong way. This forced her to stand up to watch the display, which caused some grumbling and a donning of her father’s shoes in order to stave off any errant ants that might feel the need to crawl miles up the side of the car to feast upon her toes.
The show was great, and the entire parking lot of people seemed to experience a group camaraderie as we oohed and ahed over the “Lights of Liberty” for an exciting twenty minutes.
It was all well and good until it was over.
And that is where the Exit Strategy would have come in handy.
The problem was that, while everyone had arrived in the parking lot at different times, we all seemed to have the same Departure Time in mind. Which meant that no one. got to. leave. Ever.
I spent the next two hours picturing the havoc that a herd of zombies could easily wreak on a parking lot of people stubbornly glaring at the lanes of immobilized cars and willing them to move the f- out of the way. I realized that the same people who enjoyed a certain fellowship with me moments earlier would not hesitate to mow me down now just so they could get in line to leave ahead of me.
I contemplated how useful my fully charged iPad might be if I needed to fend off desperate mobs of people trying to get the bottled water we had stashed in the car.
Fortunately, it was not necessary to sacrifice my iPad, the bottled water, or my 10-year-old daughter. After two hours of complete congestion, the lines inexplicably began to move, and we finally arrived home, safe and sound and with great resolve to never go through that experience again.
The following is a perfect example of why I decided to start this blog…
It happened when my daughter (AKA Dimples) was about 3. We had traveled to New Orleans a mere month before Hurricane Katrina to visit some relatives who had just moved there. I had actually lived there when I was in high school and was looking forward to showing my husband and in-laws some of the (less obscene) sights.
The evening we arrived, we decided to take a short jaunt to the French Quarter from our hotel to find a place to eat dinner. Our group of about 9 people crossed Canal Street as I pushed Dimples in her stroller. Our daughter had never seen such traffic, and she asked me how we knew when to cross the street without getting flattened by a trolley- not so much in those words, of course.
I pointed to one of the lights on the other side of the crosswalk, and said that when the light was a red hand that meant we had to wait. The light changed. I said, “When it turns into the white guy, that means we can cross.”
So, we crossed busy Canal Street, and proceeded on. A few minutes later, we quickly crossed one of the side streets. Being a minor road compared to Canal, it did not have a light. With no car in sight, our little party plus the stroller and I sauntered across, trying not to lose each other in the increasingly chaotic crowd.
Once we all made it to the other side, Dimples suddenly started to yell, “WHERE’S THE WHITE GUY? WHERE’S THE WHITE GUY?”
Now, keep in mind that we were downtown. In New Orleans. Really not the best place to be spouting racist remarks. Even if you are only three years old.
So, obviously, I reprimanded myself for not really thinking that one through. But, really, when you think about it, what would be your way to describe it? He’s white, and he’s male.
I was relating this story to some friends the other day, and it made me think about what the reasoning had been for making the figure WHITE. I mean, in the universal language of traffic, stop is red, and go is GREEN, not white. So, what’s the history behind that? And, come to think of it, why is it a guy, and not a girl? Could you be more politically incorrect?
So, my solution is, since it is all the rage anyway, to go GREEN. And, maybe, try putting a man and a woman pushing a stroller with an androgynous baby.
On second thought, maybe that won’t work either. Imagine how embarrassed I might be if we were in New York, and Dimples had yelled, “WHERE’S THE GREEN, MARRIED, HETEROSEXUAL COUPLE?”