3rd bastion of defense
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.
According to Moomin, this castle, with its three or four lines of defense against the oncoming tide, was populated by the Hydrogen people. The oxygen people were attacking, disguised as the ocean. As long as the oxygen people were lured into Moomin’s maze of traps, they’d be neutralized and changed into just plain water.
We were pretending to be helpful giants again, working for peanut butter and beer. Iz and Sophie had no concept of sand castle work ethic, but declared that they were pixie princesses helping to save the city. I made them stop talking in foul baby talk. Ugh! Iz brought a huge piece of seaweed (Turkish Bath Towel) and said it was a whale skin, adding:
But of course we only use the skins off whales that died of natural causes! The people of the castle drink the whale milk, but don’t worry, they treat the whales really well and take good care of them, and the milk is organic!
Her mom’s Xtreme California mentality has been transmitted so strongly that even imaginary sand castle people are carefully ethical with the animal products they eat. Funniest thing ever! Was there a hint of irony in her description of the castle’s organic foods? I wasn’t sure.
Finally, near the end of the day, Sophie and Iz figured out the fun and dramatic horror of the moment when you’re working frantically to keep out the waves and they finally obliterate all your hard work. The kids all stood and stared, mesmerized, as the final wall, with its feathers and drip castles on top, were breached.
Those of you who grew up on beaches with me may recognize the mastermind behind the castle style, with moats and canals, designed for a strategy of falling back over time.
Squid and I lurked in the background as much as possible. Did I mention it was foggy and freezing cold? Leelo sat in her lap almost the whole time we were at the beach – and they took a long walk together. Then off to a taqueria in Moss Beach, “El Gran Amigo”, which true to B.’s observation is in what is obviously an old gas station and auto body shop. It was the best taco with pollo asado I’ve ever had. The chicken wasn’t gristly (a frequent problem. ew.) the sauce was to die for, probably because it had lard in it but I don’t care, the veggies were nice, corn tortillas fresh, grated cheese also good and actually Mexican cheese and not a block of cheap monterey jack from Cosco.
I was thinking as we ate about how in Texas where I grew up, the hicks who were polite would say “Spanish” instead of ‘Mexican”… so “Spanish food” or “Are you Spanish?” Because there, out around Tomball outside of Houston, it was like a bad word to call someone Mexican, even if you were from Chicano and they were too or were Latino, but it was more that white and black people said it to each other or Latinos as an insult. That thought struck me today, how sad it was, and I wondered if that’s still true in that area. Like, in Spanish classes in middle and high school, if you pronounced the language right, you’d get a lot of scary sneering and posturing, some tobacco-chewing football player dude would inevitably get right up in your face and be all, “You sound like a Mexican.” You can imagine what I would say back, right? “So what if I were? You sound like a dumb hick.” (Note the obnoxious deliberate over-their-heads use of the subjunctive.) It was only being a girl and 3 feet high that saved my ass from being beat right there in the hallway. There was no Mexican-American Students Association, the way surely there is here, no expression of pride that I ever saw . . . I hope it’s better there now.
Digressions -R- Us!
We ended up at Squid’s house, and then Seymour and Jo and Manny and Eliz joined us, and Squid’s parents, and we all hung out for hours. I ate the best nectarine in the world while lying on a small trampoline in the sun, reading the manual to my car. Kids all got along pretty well. No one had a screaming fit. We watched a short movie called “hung” to see the hairstyle Squid wants (after kicking the kids out onto the porch because it was all about some lesbians who take a drug that makes them grow a penis for a day and then some of them have sex offscreen and some of them cruise around in frustration and nothing really happens, but this one chick had a cute hairstyle.)
The kids all built a fort out of Iz’s entire room, some christmas ribbon, and all the blankets and pillows in the house.
It was a really nice summery day! I felt like I was properly relaxed and summery all day long and was doing stuff with Moomin and all the other kids in our clan, as I ought to do more, instead of lurking on the couch with my computer and snapping at them to get their own juice boxes out of the cupboard, because I’m busy writing.
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