Saturday, April 4, 2009

Nostalgia


One hot summer day, the Matron decided to take her children to the zoo!  With friends!  The Matron hates the zoo and isn't fond of 90 degree August days, which this one was.  So you see the magnitude of Love for children and the desperate, end of summer need of entertainment that did not involve screaming through the kitchen (that would be the Matron).

The zoo was its usual animal imprisonment, a condition the Matron just doesn't quite understand or enjoy -- which is probably why she's only been to the local zoo, once.   So she spent the afternoon tinkering with her moral compass, all Peter Singer-like.  The children flitted and flowed and enjoyed themselves, although Stryker revealed this:  "I don't like zoos either Mom.  Seems mean."

And zoos aren't really even the point of the story!  (Speaking of which, the point of the story is a wee bit delicate, so please exercise peace and love for all in comments.)

When they were tired, hot and hungry, the Matron got in a very long line for an ice cream.  Because she is this kind of mama on 90 degree August, shadeless days, the children sat three feet away, under an awning at a table while the Matron waited in the blazing, long line.    

Many slow, agonizing minutes into the wait, Merrick fell off his bench!  And started crying!  He was 4.  So the Matron said to the woman in line behind her:  "Exccuse me just a second while I pick him up!   I'll be right back!"  

The Matron lifted her guy and landed a kiss in a single fell swoop and went back to her spot in about 45 seconds.

Except. . . . the spot was taken.  By the woman in line behind her.  Who pointedly took three steps forward.

Who said:  "Looks to me like you LEFT this line.  What kind of world is it when you think you can just say to ME -- I'll be right back?  That's the world before the civil rights movement.  That's the world before the civil war.  What world are you living in when you can say 'I'll be right back?"

Now, the Matron had thought that she and this other mama were sorta exactly the same--both with a gaggle of children in tow, who were all now watching the two grown-up women.   One white (the Matron), the other black (the other mama).

The Matron wishes she could say she just immediately conceded.  She did not.  She had been in line for a considerable amount of time and could not endure the thought of starting all over when the children were so spent that they were falling off benches and crying.  

Matron:  "What in the world are you talking about?   You saw him fall.  I was gone for like 30 seconds.  I left my purse here!"  (isn't leaving the purse as good as staking a claim in 1840?)

Other Mama:  "And you're arguing with me?  This seems like a mighty unChristian thing to do.  You seem pretty unChristian to me.  Get to the back of the line or I might have to take some stronger action-- a nonChristian stealing my place in line!  Who do you think you are?"

The children were now PEELED to this exchange, as were the 40 million people waiting in that endless line.  Which was LONG and they were near the front by this point.

Matron:  "UnChristian?  Oh my God -- what would you call not letting someone pick up a hurt child and return to her place in line?"

At which point the other woman completely flipped out and started screaming at the Matron -- largely about her lack of Christianity, but there were some white supremacist observations as well.

During the onslaught, the Matron understood that her children were seeing how she would handle this assault.   They were frightened.   The other woman's children?   Looked equally out of sorts as they watched their mother on the attack.

Indeed, the entire line was holding its collective breath as the Matron (known to them as "you white unChristian thoughtless bitch") picked up her purse and waited until her character assessment had been completed.

Matron:  "I apologize.  I'll go to the end of the line."

The relief from the line and the children lowered the temperature to 85.  Really.  And while the woman continued to mutter about the Matron's march toward hell, the man DIRECTLY behind this woman, also African-American and about the Matron's age and with a similar crew of children in tow (also watching), took a large step back and held out his arms to the Matron.

"Here," he said.  "Please take this spot in line, sister."

And when the Matron's eyes welled up and she stood next to him, he put his arm around her and said, "Just you never mind."

The Matron is still saying thank you.

21 comments:

Daisy said...

What an incredible memory. I have tears thinking of the man letting you in line and calling you Sister.

The Gossamer Woman said...

That was one sweetheart of a man.

Kelly said...

That is an awesome story. It makes me want to rush out and do a good deed.

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I probably would have also gone to the end of the line, but without an apology. Unless it was the "I'm sorry you are such a raving idiot" sort....

God bless that wonderful gentleman behind her! Although I guess she would have called him an Uncle Tom.

Heather said...

Wow. And Wow.

Ree said...

You made me cry. AGAIN, might I add?

Love him.

Karen ~ said...

WOW, the tingles are all the way down to my toes. LOVE that man!

Professor J said...

What a wonderful story. I love the "sister," and "just never you mind." I do wonder about the other woman, though. What kind of a story turns you into that?

Minnesota Matron said...

Professor J -- I was talking about that with a friend who's Korean-American and has done a lot of work around race. Yes, there must be a story and lots and lots of anger -- probably legitimate rage - but misplaced in this situation.

smalltownmom said...

And how big was the chip on her shoulder? Wish there were more people out their like that man.

I would have saved your spot.

kmkat said...

I too love the "Sister" and "just you never mind". Now THAT is what Christianity should be all about.

I may not be a Christian but I would have let you back in the line. Motherhood trumps Christianity.

Minnesota Matron said...

Amen, KmKat. . Amen!

SUEB0B said...

For every loon out there, there are 100 good people. I am convinced of it.

Mayberry Magpie said...

Lordy, lordy that story makes me sweat. And makes my head hurt. I have such a hard time with confrontational people. I usually want to get all over their shit, but look how it turns out when you don't, when you take the high road. Other folks are compelled to the take the high road, too. Great story!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I would never have heard that wonderful man because I probably never would have given up. Not that I would be right--I just don't seem to have clarity in the heat of the moment to be the bigger person when I'm right. Kudos to you.

thefirecat said...

Sister. Now THAT is a fine Christian gentleman. And I want to hug him.

(and yeah, you're Buddhist. Which is only unChristian with a capital C. I hate it when people play the race card, the sexism card, the any sort of bigotry ism card. I once had a conversation that ended when my erstwhile housemate--a subletter--said, "You don't like me because I'm gay!" and I answered, "No, I don't like you because you're an asshole." That pretty much shut him up. Your way is better.)

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Oh man--that is such a horrible experience to have to endure. Good for the nice man behind the crazy lunatic woman. I don't care what kind of a bad day she had, it's obvious she was ITCHING for a fight.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

The Matron? She's got me all choked up. Again.

MJ said...

I've never had that kind of confrontation. Canadians are far too polite, apparently. We'd probably just be busy saying "sorry" all over the place.

But should I happen to find myself in that situation, I think I should start to carry that card that I purchased an eon ago that reads, "You can never get hemorrhoids; you are such a perfect asshole".

You are welcome to use that line in these sort of situations. That man seems like a blessing!

Coco said...

Wow. What a psycho bitch. Thank goodness someone had some sanity. What a nice man.

disa said...

I love it ! Very creative ! That's actually really cool Thanks.