Friday, October 21, 2011

Scene at a Suburban Park

I always try to avoid fights. In fact, I have always succeeded. I have never once been in a fist fight. Or even a slap fight. I have been known to raise my voice a time or two, but only rarely at strangers, and the time I hung up the phone on a guy at my library job, I got fired for it. Everyone thinks I'm quite demure, so when I flare for a moment, the troops dive for the bunkers, so to speak.

Recently, I've taken up a friendship with a person who shall remain nameless, who used to "organize" a "fight club" at his/her place of work after hours in a big city. Frankly, all the talk of this makes my heart palpitate and I wonder when his/her old "associates" will "catch up" with him or her and I will have to witness a "payback."

Truth be told, I'm not even entirely sure what a "fight club" is, but the notion is rather gripping, isn't it? And herein lies the problem. I like gripping. Not much in my life is gripping. Never has been. This may be why I once wanted to be a reporter. Reporters crave gripping, and they go after it, and then they write about it. I'm a housewife. But I still crave gripping, and I go after it, and afterward I write about it.

Why, just today I loaded my four offspring into our automatic-door minivan and drove up past the nine-million-gallons-per-minute fake fountain into the country club neighborhood of Anthem. Ah, Anthem. Not really a gripping place. But I parked my minivan and stepped out and smelled trouble in the air.

Dozens of middle-school-aged youth were swarming on the playground equipment. "Don't they have anything better to do?" I complained to my friends who had accompanied me to the park. We should have been an intimidating sight to those middle-schoolers. Three housewives, one of us nine months pregnant, walking in slo-mo toward the playground with eight children between us. But these are middle-school-aged youth, as I've mentioned, so they didn't disperse as I hoped they would. Instead, they turned up the volume on the swear words, blocked my daughter from climbing on the play equipment, and one of them, inexplicably, pulled his pants down. I didn't personally witness the pants incident, but my housewife associate did and I'm just lucky it didn't bowl her over, because she is the nine-months-pregnant one and I would have had to help her up in the midst of all the gripping turmoil.

Add to all this craziness the fact that I had recently ingested two cups of coffee, and am still new to caffeine. The psychological drama, paired with the coffee gave me the shakes. Or maybe I was just scared of a brawl. I don't care how brawny I am...  no one, NO ONE can take on several dozen junior high misfits at a park. Well, maybe my fight club friend could, but he/she wasn't there. So I did what any self-respecting middle-aged suburban housewife in her right mind and with a penchant for "gripping" would do: I called the cops. I didn't mean for it to turn into fodder for my facebook page, but I can't help it - it just was.

After Little Miss Non-Emergency Dispatcher in her safe-haven control center got through asking me questions like, "Are there drugs?" (No.) and "Are there weapons?" (Well, no... but they're cussing, Little Miss Non-Emergency Dispatcher! Cussing! And I don't get out much!) --- she agreed to send an officer on the double! (She didn't actually say "on the double!" - but I wanted to somehow work that in to my story. You understand.)

Mr. Officer was so nice! But don't confuse "nice" for "not intimidating." As soon as those kids (read: hoodlums) saw him coming, they picked up their backpacks (maybe chock full of knives and nunchucks) and skedaddled. Mr. Officer followed on foot and issued a "stern warning" to some of their remnant to "keep their pants on" and "find another place to play." Then he came back to chat with me and assure me of my safety in this mean suburban jungle. During this chat, some other friends of mine arrived on the scene and were intrigued to see me talking to a law enforcement officer, since the last time I invited them to this park, there was a bus load of convicts cleaning up trash on the grounds. I know what you're thinking - action follows me. Come with me to the park sometime!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Flying Kids

I grew up flying over town in my dad's single-engine airplanes and playing in grease in hangars during Summer while other kids played in swimming pools. My dad is an A&P mechanic and a workaholic, so I learned the NATO alphabet at the same time I learned the regular one. Therefore it makes perfect sense that I try to introduce aviation to my kids.

Until recently, my efforts included meals at the municipal airport cafe around the corner; watching jets land in the designated observation lot near the runway at McCarran; and trips to see Grandpa at the hangar where he's working now - even at the age of 74.

But earlier this month, we took advantage of a very cool program which is part of the Experimental Aircraft Association - the Young Eagles. You can read all about it by following the link to their website, but for the purposes of my blog, you only need to know that Joseph got to fly for free over our beautiful Nevadan desert for about half an hour in a homebuilt airplane. I have included a photo of the plane, just before landing safely, in case that word "homebuilt" makes you nervous. Preceding the flight, he was given a basic explanation of the parts of the plane, how it flies, and a logbook of his very own. Any child between the ages of eight and eighteen is eligible for this and you can find a chapter in your area on the website.

The experience impressed my often-stoic ten year-old. And I was proud to have done my part to promote an ongoing affection for aviation in our family. Plus, four more children have been taught to "walk wide around the propeller." Heard that a time or two growing up.
Cayna declined a flight, but liked the right seat.
Bethie wanted to fly, but has to wait a couple years.
Coming in for a landing!