Last night, I got off the train, dashed home, Kate and I filled the baby with vegetable soup (“Noodle! Noodle!”), zip-tied twenty feet of blue EL wire (thanks, mom!) to the baby’s howdah, and we walked uptown to the West Chester Halloween Parade. Which was… soo super-great. Some things we saw:
- The West Chester University Golden Rams and the West Chester East high school marching bands. Marching bands are a wonderful bit of alchemy — individually: so geeky! Collectively: so awesome! As I’ve written before, marching bands are a funny mixture of Raw Youth, martial pageantry, and focused group dedication. At five feet away with a toddler on your back, it’s like drinking from a firehose. A firehose of awesome, that is!
- Incredibly lithe, springy tumblers spinning down the street: they’d do nine backflips in a row, then bounce to a landing, stick one finger in the air, and then put the finger down and assume a slouch, resolving to a perfectly ordinary and unassuming-looking eleven year old girl in a blue nylon “Downingtown Tumblers” pullover. I’m having a hard time articulating the Atticus Finch life lesson this illustrates without sounding either obvious or preachy: “suburban people are just as cabable of harboring astonishing abilities as anyone else?” “Don’t judge a book by its ‘wwjd’ keychain and its look of bland, studied unconcern?” “Your next-door neighbor might be able to fight ninjas; you never know?” Resolution: work on developing some astonishing, non-obvious abilities.
- Fantastic neighborhood hip-hop dance troupes. When you see the crowd of kids coming down the street with hair extensions and a boom box, you know you’re in for a good time. In another year or two, I’m going to take a hip-hop class with Lydia; first so we can have fun, then later so I can embarass her terribly. I’m going to have to add some moves to my standard jokester’s repertoire of “running man, cabbage patch, hammer slide” if I’m going to do a really workmanlike job of embarassing her in junior high.
- Come to think of it, that gives me some ideas about what my astonishing unknown ability could be.
- The champion baton twirler of the world (according to the vinyl banner that preceded her, which located her victory in Marseilles, France.) She had a different outfit than all the twirlers behind her, which all videogame players know makes her the boss. They all had glowsticks integrated into their batons. The boss twirler had long, straight, balletic kicks, a really amazing repertoire of moves (“she’s… with her… elbow! Did you seee…?” and sort of a distracted demeanor. It’s tempting to speculate about the rags-to-riches-to-rags life of a champion baton twirler, but I think that’s probably being uncharitable. She was pretty awesome.
- Teenagers who complimented me on my EL wire backpack. Yeah, that’s how we roll in West Chester. My baby has ground effects.
Lydia had a great time: picking out the Elmo costumes in the crowd, bopping along to the marching-band standards, clapping every time the crowd clapped. Kate remembers seeing the parade when she was a kid. What a great, great time!!!