Monday, August 11, 2008

Stealing your line Aretha

Una and I had the good fortune to have some quality time Sunday morning and we decided to hit the playground(s). Sally had an appointment in the South Side of Providence. Since we were unsure of the length of her appointment, we decided to stay close by so we could swing back and pick her up when done. Thus, Una and I set out on a ride. Two blocks away we both spotted it at the same time...From the back seat came, "paygown". That would be playground to those uninitiated in Una-speak. We passed it, but I made a mental note of where it was as I was sure we'd end up there. Two blocks later we passed another playground, this one even larger than the first.

After cruising by one of my favorite South Providence sites (City Farm) we pulled up to the first playground we had passed and I was a little discouraged that the area for small toddlers was sand filled and not the new rubberized material. We had planned to go to breakfast after Sally's appointment and I didn't want Una to get too dirty. We walked into the playground nonetheless. We were greeted by a host of empty plastic juice bottles, empty plastic sleeves which formerly held frozen flavored ice, a couple of empty glass bottles...oh, and the lovely USED Pamper next to the teeter-totter. I carried Una to the swing and she swung for awhile. As I pushed Una thoughts of a blog raced through my head. I was pleased to see such a nice playground in the inner city, but disgusted by the state of it. I was torn as to how to properly voice my outrage about its state without offending someone. I put the thoughts aside and concentrated on enjoying the time with Una. We finished the swings, headed for the slide (six feet from the teeter-totter and the lovely used Pamper.) Una took one slide and I decided it was time to go. We could hit the other playground two blocks away. Una was NOT happy about leaving. Unlike me who focused on the filth, she focused on the fun items in front of her.

We arrived at the second playground which was more impressive than the first. Sponsorship signage abounded. Terrific. Donors thought enough to establish a modern playground in the inner city of Providence. It was one of those nice commercial grade Little Tike playgrounds, with the slides, rock walls, swinging bridges, rubber covered stairs just right for little toddlers, and the cushioned recycled rubber base should such a little toddler take a header. It was lovely...

Except for the graffiti written all over the plastic fire engine Una wanted to play on. I'm sure [fill-in the blank] is indeed hot and can provide a good time, but neither Una nor I really cared. I'm sure the next seven year old who can read will have wonderful questions for their accompanying parent. I was disgusted. In case you're not aware I HATE GRAFFITI. It seems to be everywhere in Providence. Even our new "I-Way" (relocation of a major highway interchange) is plastered with it before it's even finished. What a nice greeting to those visiting Rhode Island for the first time. I digress. I immediately thought of my youth and about how I treated things that were not mine. My parents instilled in me at a young age that you respected other people's property. Perhaps I was naive, but all I knew of graffiti when I was young was from pictures of NYC subway cars. I can't recall or imagine writing such vulgarity on a wall or a plastic fire engine designed for those not yet 3 feet tall. I thought about my youth and what might be synonymous with today's graffiti. It's a stretch, but all I could come up with was trying to carve JS + [some girl's initials] in a heart on a tree while camping when I was 12. I say"trying" because my little pocket knife was never sharp enough to make a dent in some majestic Ponderosa Pine. It's the thought that counts, though.

So, Una climbed, slid down the slide, crossed the swinging bridge (she's got my genes in that regard as the swinging bridge was one of my favorite things to run on at Disneyland). She had a grand time while I noticed more empty plastic juice bottles, empty plastic flavored frozen ice thing-a-ma-jigs, and the rest of the graffiti. No used Pampers here. In their place, however, was the nice 30-something gentleman in his bathrobe and slippers. I fully expected him to flash us, but he didn't. Instead he deposited his ass on the bench right next to the commercial grade Little Tikes structure Una was enjoying and lit up his wacky tobacky.

Come on Una...time to go.
"All I'm askin' is for a little Respect" and we're not finding it here.

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