Sunday, June 16, 2013

Reality Avoidance at The All-American Picnic

 I have a sneaking suspicion that I picked up on this blogging business about 10 years too late, or that the blogging business picked up on me after my natural blogging abilities had already come and gone. I only say this because of my observations of other bloggers, whom I study more intently now that I've joined the ranks of HuffPost bloggers who will happily blabbinate for free in return for exposure outside of their established circle (in my case all 6 of you that visit Limboland regularly). The difference between me and them is that they are all self-proclaimed subject matter experts on something - politics, religion, celebrities, sports, world events, books, music, life over fifty (one might guess I would know something about that), parenting, pets, food - the HuffPost categories seem almost bottomless. What's more, these SME, in their youthful exuberance, always have something to say, whereas the only reason I say anything at all is to attempt to herd the random thoughts rattling around my cranium like marbles in a tin can, and when I do manage to herd the naughty naked gnomes into some type of thematic structure, it almost always falls into a category that you would be more likely to find in a Bellevue therapy circle than the HuffPost.

For example a couple of days ago I realized that living so close to Stinson Beach State Park on the weekends is like living on the border of not one but at least four third-world countries (is it more polite to refer to these nations as "emerging markets"? ) Our little hillside bungalow in Coon Hollow is a five minute downhill walk to the Stinson Beach Market at the junction of Highway One and Calle Del Mar, the only ingress to the residential neighborhood on the hill known at The Village. Across Highway One is the town park, the post office, The Lunch Box, a housecleaning service, and The Parkside Cafe. A little bridge over Eastkoot Creek leads to the north end picnic grounds of the state park, beyond which lies the official state beach, complete with lifeguard towers, The Surfer's Grill, and, on the weekends hordes of extended families , nuclear families, partying youths and the occasional couple playing tonsil hockey, tickle the bean and snap the carrot under a strategically placed beach towel.

What hits your average lily-white boy-in-the-bubble Marinite upon venturing to the state park is that these aren't the same folks you see over the hill at Whole Paycheck market or sipping lattes at The Depot in Mill Valley, nor are they the tourists escaped from the Muir Woods adventure. No way. Most of these groups have been on the road since dawn, escaping the Daly City scene, over from Richmond, San Pablo, Oakland, San Leandro, Hayward, Castro Valley and points east where a little cool drizzle is a welcome respite from the fumes of the bay lowlands. They've brought patio canopies for the picnic ground, tents for the beach, portable tables and little kettle bbqs to handle the overflow from the park grills, coolers on wheels full of beer and Chablis, bowls of Safeway potato salad, macaroni salad, jello ambrosia, nachos and beans, sheet cakes and buckets of ice cream. Sometimes the half gallon bottles of vodka, rum and brandy are parked proudly in the middle of it all, sometimes they're partially hidden in grocery bags under the table. But you can tell from the clear plastic cocktail cups with the slices of lime that come 3PM there will be some serious napping goin' down.

The families at the picnic tables are practically sitting on top of one another, with a couple sets of grandparents parked off to the side under a shade tree in the best portable chairs with cupholder armrests, blankets over their legs and a grandkid or two yanking on their skirts or jackets. The picnic table is piled high with bags, bowls, and buckets of food as are the benches leaving the picnic-goers to sit around the table in their colorful fold-up nylon chairs to hoist and masticate. Some have boom boxes blaring Ranchero or some hippity hop rap rhythms while others rely on shouting, laughter, and crying rug-rats to drown out whatever worry may be may be lingering in their addled heads.

And that's where the similarities between the packed weekend picnics ends. At one table tucked under a low slung wind flattened Monterrey cypress a Hindi family, recognizable from the bindi on Grandma's forehead and the bright sari wrapped around her sea lion bulk, seems to be hiding from the boisterous gang of young Mexicanos across the asphalt path. The Hindi grandma sits in the deep shade, a garish yellow windbreaker pulled over her sari, quietly eyeing three tattooed young men in tank tops kicking a soccer ball from one to the next, each attempting to display their hands-free  juggling ability before passing it on and taking a drag off the cigarettes stuck to their lips.

Grandma motions to a son-in-law in short-waisted sky blue jacket and horn rim glasses, khakis and topsiders,  looking like he just stepped off the Cisco corporate campus after a day of coding, to take a look at the Mexican futbollers. Frowning, she nods at the tatooed tank tops like she's giving her son-in-law an order to go whack their jabbering asses, but the Punjab programmer just looks at her, palms open, with a "what am I supposed to do about it" expression of bewilderment across his dark French roast face. In a classic act of Punjabi disdain, Grandma hocks a thick forest green loogie and lets it hang off her cracked lower lip before it drips onto the grass, then bares her yellowed dentures at her daughter's husband. Bristling at this blatant act of disrespect, the son-in-law now grabs the arm of his wife, who is quietly jib-jabbing at the table knee to knee with two other young brides, and spins her around to look at her own mother, who is now a picture of the calm, respectful old Hindu grandparent, smiling sweetly and almost imperceptibly swaying to and fro on her fold-up chair. He points at her and shouts something directly into his wife's ear and she is just about to get up when the soccer ball comes flying across the picnic ground and smacks Grandma right on the forehead causing her dentures to pop out of her mouth with such force that they land with a rattle and clatter directly in the red plastic beer cup of a 325 lb black man sitting in a portable recliner at the next picnic spot over.

"Well shit goddamn!" cries the big man, staring into the cup and sticking his chubby fingers in his mouth thinking for sure those are his teeth in there. He hoists the cup and drains the brandy press on the rocks before fishing out the yellowed dentures and holding them up for closer inspection. After a few moments turning the teeth and looking at them from various angles he looks up into the sky and the wisps of late afternoon fog beginning to blow off the ocean. His companions, like him just moments ago, are all asleep, or passed out, after starting the day at 7:30 with Smirnoff canned screwdrivers from Leroy's Liquors and Donuts in Vallejo, then switching to Budweiser followed by Beam and Coke once the beach camp was set up. Upon moving to the picnic ground the group of 12 opened several gallon jugs of Gallo Hearty Burgundy to wash down the chips n' dip, bbq chicken, po sal, mac sal, ambrosia, somebody made the mistake of bringing straight fruit salad which went completely untouched for fear of further loosening up some already very loose bowels), cornbread, watermelon and cookies of a dozen varieties direct from Safeway, like everything else.

So while Grandma Poonjabber sits semiconscious slumped over in her chair, tongue lolling out the
side of her toothless slack-lipped frown, and the big fella from El Cerrito tries on a new set of teeth, the Salvadoran (or did I say Mexican? Or perhaps Honduran?) soccer stars are trying to negotiate for their ball with 3 very upset Hindi women who are so goddamned happy to be able to yell at men with impunity that they'll keep these poor boys at bay until the park closes.

And I'm still sitting here wondering what I could possibly blog about that would be of any value on the swingin' Huff n' Puff home of the digerati, something that the urban urbane will like and share, pin and retweet with unbridled enthusiasm to their thriving networks of pundits and soothsayers. Because I'm pretty certain that whatever it is, it has very little to do with any of the HuffPo categories and, barring some unforeseen miracle, will probably be relegated to Limboland forevermore!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let's get the conversation started, people!