Thursday, November 12, 2009

Notes from Veteran's Day (11-11-09): Part I

At the five and ten, we strive to preserve the atmosphere that my great-grandfather automatically created when he opened it in 1930. Thus, we have many "retro" or "antique" things (depending on how snotty you are), such as the original hardwood floors (which need to be oiled - I have not yet witnessed this. Apparently it doesn't smell too nice), a popcorn machine that still takes dimes, a scale that gives you your weight and a fortune for a penny, and a mechanical pony ride, also for a dime.

The catch is, having been invented prior to the age where anything smaller than a Sumo wrestler is considered a choking hazard, this horse (Sandy), is much rougher than most of today's kids are used to. It is not uncommon for a three-year-old to be placed on the horse (possibly against his will; it's never clear) to the eager cooings of his mother and grandmother and sit on the still Sandy with an expression of befuddled anticipation that quickly changes to terror and a sense of betrayal once the bucking commences. "Too rough?" the grandmother will say (as if there's a question) as the mother quickly lifts the child from the bucking bronco to prevent the impending crying fit, saying, "You don't like it. It's okay. You can get off." (After all, it only costs a dime, which most people, even in this economy, consider to be an annoying source of extra weight in their pockets or purses as opposed to actual currency.)

It's not uncommon for me to be at the candy counter (located directly across from Sandy the Steed), and it's also not uncommon for me to look up at the sound of the floor-vibrating jolts of movement and see Sandy rocking back and forth with all his might for nought, as he lacks a jockey. But yesterday when this happened, I saw a group of middle-school kids crowded around Sandy as though they were cannibals and he was the meddlesome action hero who'd come to their island, eagerly watching his thrusting back carry his phantom rider. It occurred to me that, as there is an age limit on Sandy (7 years old), perhaps they had wanted to lighten their pockets in a novel fashion. They didn't seem to know what to do until one of the shorter boys hilariously stood in front of Sandy, held his head down, and attempted to pulsate in time with it. That's what teenage girls want to see.

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