Saturday, October 25, 2014
Soup Supper multi-culturalism
The child's eagerness was as remarkable as it was darling. You could barely finish your coffee without her asking for your cup. I told our friends that this kid was really in training to become the queen of Dutch Calvinism, not for her theological strength but because she was a living, 10-year-old embodiment of that ancient text "cleanliness is next to Godliness."
She was quintessentially blonde, charming pink glasses over her nose; but her eyes rarely met ours because, well, there was just too much to clean up. She'd been assigned our table at the Christian school soup supper, and she was not--listen to me!--she was not going to let a teaspoon-full of sinful messiness get left unretrieved.
Truth? I'd have hired her in a heartbeat if she'd told me she cleaned houses, but it wouldn't have been legal. I'm not a judge of age, but I'd guess maybe fifth grade. Just a kid, but a blonde whirling dervish with a cleaning rag.
"I just love to clean up," she told me when I told her I was mega-impressed by her breathless energy. "I really do." Zeal?--way, way, way beyond her years. Cleaning up at the soup supper was a calling.
Our visitors were impressed too. The one wearing the big black cowboy hat, the one with the middle-of-the-back pony tail, couldn't help chatting to Ms. Cleanliness. "Ever meet a real Indian?" he said, being one himself.
Honestly, she could barely stop working. The question didn't seem to register. She didn't get it. Then she pulled back the rag, stopped and looked at him as if she hadn't heard.
"You ever meet a real Indian?" he asked again, or something close.
She went into one of those kid-like stalls, wheels churning inside somewhere as she tried to determine what on earth was going on with this grandpa with the wild silver mane. She looked at him, eyes narrowing, that handy-dandy rag still in her hand but motionless.
Seconds passed. More. She'd become something akin to Lot's wife, without the tragedy.
Finally, what was in her came blurting out innocently. "You mean you're a real Indian?" she asked, as if he might have been spoofing.
"A Navajo," our friend said, reaching out his hand to shake. "You ever meet one before?"
She shook his hand, but once again seconds passed. Her mind was a slot machine, the symbols still spinning.
And then, finally, she says what comes up. "I'm going to be an Indian on Halloween," she told him boldly, as if he really ought to be proud.
We just about fell off our chairs. What a sweet little hoot.
And now I've got this little necklace our Navajo friend picked up at Pipestone yesterday. He wants me to find that little girl who's going to hit the streets as an Indian on Halloween. It's just a little thing, but he says he thinks it'll help that costume along.
It'll be a joy finding her in school and getting it to her before she gets herself into her getup. She won't be hard to find. I'm sure she'll be the one cleaning up the classroom.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 11:18 AM