Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My pride in my Polish heritage swells, then quickly dissipates.

Everyone in the neighborhood has unearthed their Polish flags, and hung them solemnly outside their homes, small black ribbons trailing from the masts in honor of President Kaczynski, recently killed in a plane crash along with many other members of the Polish elite. Some people apparently do not have black ribbons to signify mourning, and improvise via other means: a streak of black sharpie drawn along the edge of the flag, or a makeshift ribbon fashioned out of black electrical tape. Yes, they're a resourceful people. When I walk through the streets, the signs all advertise God-knows-what in those foreign letters with slashes and accents and flourishes in them, and the people's speech is full of those harsh zschhuszzhing sounds that remind me of my dad and uncle and my grandmother's conversations. My command of the Polish language is limited to three to five likely grammatically incorrect profane phrases, which were employed only in an effort to discipline Grandma's old dog. Words commanding the dog to hurry up and take a dump. Not so cosmopolitan.

Walking around the neighborhood this weekend, the weather was perfect and the flowers were exploding in the park, and everyone was out enjoying life. We walked to the deli, where I procured a Coke, and iced tea, a small bag of potato chips, and a little chocolate, carmel, and salt cupcake, then sat down on a bench outside. We had a great view of the sunny street full of people, as well as the drunkard seated on the adjacent bench. As we ate, a little round-face boy rode up on his bicycle. He dismounted and politely asked if he could pet our dog. Yes (obviously), and then he asked the dog's name, and our names, and introduced himself as Michael. Based on the slow, deliberate precision of Michael's speech, it was clear that had some sort of developmental delay, which his parents had evidently compensated for by teaching and practicing social skills with him. As a result, Michael is more polite and kind and even-tempered than most kids. After a quick visit, he took his leave, scooting away on his small bike, saying goodbye and and calling our names as he pedaled away. I breathed in deeply, and said "this place is perfect." Then the drunk man next to us grumbled and shifted and pulled out an empty detergent bottle and urinated into it. A resourceful people, indeed.

4 comments:

Holly said...

a salt cupcake??

Jill said...

Awesome! What a great place you live in. And I'm with the last commenter, a salt cupcake? I want one.

p.s. I didn't know you had Polish heritage?

Matt Beers said...

I thought I was the only one who recycled detergent bottles.

Marina said...

HAH! this made me chuckle out loud.
xxoo i also want to inform you that the word verification below this text box that i have to enter in order to post is: "pinglebe". AWESOME.