Tuesday, May 24, 2016
A Tulip Time Night Show
I may be wrong but I recognize some of our newest neighbors here as Guatemalan, distinguishable from other Hispanic newcomers by their height--among Frisian-American volley-ballers, they'd all be setters--and the long colorful dresses the women wear on city sidewalks.
If those cultural markers are accurate, the young mom standing in the grocery line ahead of me Sunday night was Guatemalan. At her side were three little clingy brown-eyed girls, the oldest of whom may have been in kindergarten, but not a smidgen older. That the Mom and kids were brand new to the community was clear by the way the clerk carefully explained the check-out procedure--what buttons to push, where to sign--all of it accomplished beautifully, by the way, in fluent Spanish.
The tall high school kid at the register shyly told his bi-lingual co-worker that the Guatemalan mom hadn't answered the final question on the card reader, so the clerk who knew Spanish gently took the woman back four or five steps to be sure she understood the procedure, all of the explanations in Spanish. That little drama was, by itself, a thing of beauty.
But there were more acts to the drama. The oldest of the little girls--she could barely see up on the counter--had herself a Hershey bar and a crinkled dollar bill she laid out for that giant of a high school kid, who duly punched in the purchase. It came to $1.06, and there was only that crinkled dollar bill.
The tall kid never flinched. Mom was being schooled at the end of the counter and the little girl with the Hershey bar was already starting to unwrap her treasure, so he just reached down and pulled out six pennies from the plate on the counter. I couldn't help thinking it was one darling act of love.
But more was coming. You couldn't help notice that when the younger sister saw her big sister's treasure and didn't get a bite, that little girl's bottom lip curled up in a fashion that needed no translation.
And soon enough there was a whimper.
Now the clerk who knew Spanish was oblivious to the offending Hershey bar, so she asked the Guatemalan mom how it was that her little one had suddenly turned sour. When Mom pointed to the chocolate, the clerk quite magically produced a big dish of what, decades ago, we used to call "penny candy." Where she got it from, I don't know, but just then it looked like five loaves and two fishes or some other miracle.
That little down-turned lip straightened out into one glorious smile once the little tyke reached into the miracle bowl of goodies. Goodbyes were said, and I just happened to be there, next in line with a couple of oranges and a little bag of stroops.
It was the Sunday after Tulip Time, a kind of sabbath all its own, a moment in time when most of Orange City sits down and takes one huge breath.
But right there before my eyes a sweet drama went on, a ethnic play whose story line was perfectly universal, a midtown Sunday "night show" just as poignant as West Side Story, and maybe even more darling, a Sabbath blessing all its own.
Posted by J. C. Schaap at 6:18 AM