Multiculturalism reached its apex this weekend as we stayed with Edmond, Sasha, and Lara in their new house in San Diego. As I mentioned earlier, I was near my ancestral motherland, Mexico, and since my wife Viv is of European extraction, and Edmond is from Iraq, and his wife Sasha is from China, the potential for some outstanding political discussion was ever-present. But it was parenthood that drove our talk to subjects like bedtimes and baths and tantrums and toilets. We are living proof that even though your motorcade may fly the flags of all nations, if you're a parent the trunk is crammed with plastic toys made sticky from when Junior drooled his Cap'n Crunch.
This is changing, of course. Thanks to the greenest of efforts by folks who grew up in the 60's, the trunk of your Volvo can now be filled with toys made of hemp and renewable wood now sticky from when Junior drooled his bran muffin smeared with the honey of free-range bees.
But don't get the idea that we had a bad time. We had a delightful time. My sense of impending penguins was unfounded as prior to the trip both sets of parents kept mum about the zoo and Sea World. The girls, after all, just wanted to play together. There's no need to pay lots of money if all they want to do is chase each other and giggle. So we got in our cars and drove down to Balboa Park, a great place to take the kids. It's got museums, exhibits, shops, cultural stuff - and most importantly, swings and slides and jungle gyms.
We were very much the visitors, showing off our directional impairments with that slow twirly ambling around that screams "Tourists!"
We happened upon a cool theater (cool as in not warm), where some of the junior members of the San Diego Ballet were performing.
We strolled through the conservatory and looked at ferns and orchids and flowers we wished we had at home.
We saw several wedding parties in various stages of thermal afternoon meltdown.
We finished our visit to the park with some time for Amy and Lara to go nuts on the playground. Which they did.
In an attempt to do more grown-up stuff, we then drove over to Old Town. It wants to be San Diego's answer to L.A.'s Olvera Street, but it lacks the grime and the bums. Edmond got in line*for the big Mexican restaurant there while the rest of us wandered around through the shops and listened to the music.
Several years later we were seated and enjoying our food. It was pretty good, but then I've eaten a lot of Mexican food. I know from Mexican food. As is the case with most meals at Mexican restaurants, this one was a compromise of convenience and tastes, taking into account the palate of the American public and the necessities of running a successful business. It was a great place to people-watch though, and if I were a drinking man I'd still be there, glass in hand, with the debris of a margarita binge surrounding my table, lubricating my spirit and urges and interest in the sea of humanity that flows through that part of town.
But I'm not a drinking man, nary a drop of demon rum had passed any of our lips, and so we were back at the house by 9:30, and everyone was bedded down by 9:45. Ain't we the wild ones.
But ha! I was no stranger to adventure, for earlier that same day I tried something new, something daring. I ate a bean popsicle. It was Chinese. Sasha, who has a diet I admire, is always finding stuff like that. But for me, Middle-of-the-Road Boy, to eat a bean popsicle is to dive headlong into the exotic. She offered it to me soon after our arrival at their house, as a refreshment after the long drive. I will tell you that what it lacked in flavor it made up for in density, and it didn't have nearly as much of that pesky sweetness that we beige folk have come to expect from a popsicle. Another plus was the sensation of fiber on the tongue for that psychological assurance of colonic forward-thinking.
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It had been a few years since I'd made that drive along the southernmost coast of California. My early days were filled with visits to Huntington Beach, Newport, Corona Del Mar, Laguna, and San Clemente. There have been many changes, as one would expect of such a place, though many of the old icons remain, the Capistrano Mission, the Fun Zone and the Pavilion on the Balboa Peninsula. There is a new icon, though, that stands along the highway just south of San Onofre near the U.S. Border Patrol Inspection Point. It put a chill on my warm remembrance of things past:
Sadly, it's very much a sign of the times.
"Chiapas" -- Stan Kenton And His Orchestra -- LIVE AT REDLANDS UNIVERSITY
Wisdom of the Day:
The family you come from isn't as important as the family you're going to have.
-- Ring Lardner
Here's a couple of pals enjoying a delicious beverage while out on the town during the early part of this century. One of them is my grand-uncle. Apparently my family's been hanging around near the border for some time now.
Surprisingly, he is the one without the bottle.