30 January 2012

California State University, Northridge

"Mama, are we near Disneyland yet?"
"Remember, Trevor, that I told you Disneyland would have to wait till another time?"
"They have a pirate cave ride where things explode!  It's real fire and everything."
"Wild World has rides too.  Lots of them."
"But they don't have pirates, do they?"
Trevor asked this in the dejected tone of a boy who already knew the answer.
"No, I don't think they have pirates, but they do have roller coasters."
Trevor's mother plucked the Dr Pepper out of the flimsy cupholder and finished it off.

She was treating Trevor to a day out that a boy would enjoy.  Paying for eight hours of babysitting was an unpleasant idea.  She couldn't afford both the Disney admission and the round trip drive to Anaheim, which would be almost $10 in gas, more if they had to sit in traffic.  She also couldn't afford to take unpaid time off of work, but Christmas came and went with only promises.  Trevor didn't complain, but she could tell he was a little down for it.

Trevor's mother pointed to the empty aluminum can.
"Trevor, there's a roller coaster on the can here.  Can you read what it says?"
Trevor picked it up and studied it.
"$5 off."
"That's good!  But I meant the name of the roller coaster, the big fancy words there."
He squinted at it.
"I don't know what it says."
"Well, sound it out.  One letter at a time."
"M...mmmmm...mah...tah...door.  Mah-tah-dor?"
"Matador!  Good!  Perfect!"
"What is...matador?"
"That's the name of the ride.  I bet it will be exciting!"
"Matador.  Mad at door.  I am mad at the door.  That's a funny word."
Their two-door Honda puttered past Trevor's primary school.
"Mama, why is there no school today?"
"Today is Martin Luther King Day, Trevor!  Didn't they tell you that in school?"
"I don't know."
"Today is a national holiday in honor of a man named Martin Luther King.  He fought for people like you and me to have rights like everyone else."
Trevor took this in.  Why was a king fighting?  Doesn't being king mean everybody does what you say?
"Who did he fight?  Pirates?"
Trevor's mother laughed before she could stop herself.  "Oh, no!  He did not fight with violence, he used his words to lead the people.  This was happening when your mama was a little girl."
Mama is really old!
"Tonight when we get back home we will watch a program about him on TV.  They have a big concert in Washington, D.C., which is the capital city of America."
Trevor looked uninterested.  Kings were kind of cool, but they had to stay in the castle.  Pirates had the whole ocean.
Radio ads for an MLK weekend blowout on all Sealy, Serta, and Simmons repeated on every break.

They pulled into the Wild World parking lot.  A bright red roller coaster snaked overhead.  When they got out of the car, Trevor's mother reminded him, "Now remember Trevor, if anyone asks, you are five years old."
"I don't want to be younger.  I want to be older.  Why do I have to say I'm five when I'm not?"
"We can get the same ticket for a little less money if you are younger.  And that means we can go on more rides!"
Trevor knew they weren't rich.  The same backpack since kindergarten with the left strap ripped off, the packed lunches that sometimes left him hungry, no presents this Christmas.  He saw his mother come home from work really tired, so he would help her where he could - making dinner, emptying the garbage, keeping his room clean sometimes.  But he didn't want to lie, even if meant going on more rides.
"You can say it.  I don't want to say it."
This was her 'you need to do what I'm saying' tone.
Trevor screamed.  "No!  I don't care about these stupid rides!  I don't want to go!"  He turned around to go back to the car.
"Trevor, get back here!"
She turned and grabbed his arm.
Trevor unhinged his jaw with a piercing screech.  Other guests in the parking lot turned to look.  Tears streaked down his cheeks as he struggled against her.
"Trevor!  Trevor, Trevor, calm down.  Calm down now, please.  Calm down!"
"No, get off me!  Let me go!"
She picked him up and heaved him over her shoulder, rocking him.  He began to quiet down.
"Shhh, shhh.  It's okay.  You don't have to say you're five if you don't want to."
"I'm not supposed to lie.  You're not supposed to lie.  It's not good."
"I know it's not good and Mama was wrong to ask you to do that.  I'm sorry, okay?  Okay?"
She put Trevor down.  He wiped his nose on his arm.  "Okay."
She unlocked the car and pulled a napkin from the side door.  She cleaned his face off.
"We will go to Disneyland and ride the pirate rides some time.  It's just a lot of money.  Now do you want to have fun today?"
At the ticket booth, Trevor's mother handed the Dr Pepper cans and cash over to the attendant.
"One adult, and one six year old."
Trevor was hopping up to see through the ticket window.
He said, "I'm the six year old."
The attendant smiled and slid the tickets under the window.
Trevor stopped jumping.
"Mama, the ground just moved!"
"I know!  The Matador is a real big roller coaster, isn't it?"
"The roller coaster did that?  Okay.  Can we go ride it now?"
"We can ride it as many times as you want, baby."

A fine photo of a cell phone photo of CSUN's campus orange trees.

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