Friday, September 22, 2006

Ghetto Mama and would-be Sugar Daddy

AS A NATURE LOVER, I'm a frequenter of our region's fine county forest preserves and State parks. I feel better when I'm out in the midst of natural greenery, breathing fresh air. Away from lots of people, buildings, traffic, air pollution, noise pollution, electromagnetic pollution. I figure the other people who frequent the forest preserves feel better in such an environment too.

So, I figured, that must explain why so many of the people I might run into on forest preserve paths or in parking lots on a Sunday afternoon -- including men, who seem prevalent at many of these sites -- are so friendly and always say hello.

I figured, why shouldn't other men be sitting there in parking spaces in their cars, trucks or vans (there are always vans)? I sometimes came to sit too. I would read a book, finish my greasy fast food burger, or just think, or write, or plan things, or whatever, while watching the sun set and the moon appear and the deer come out to eat. I figured they were doing that too.

Until I started hearing WLS radio guys Roe Conn and Garry Meier doing "bits" about the fact that the forest preserves are also notorious gay cruising spots.

My eyes thus opened, I've recently seen a great deal more of this than I'd like to. For example, a couple of nights ago.

It's about 6:00. I go to a Tinley Park forest preserve (not far from World Music Theater/Tweeter Center/First Midwest Bank Ampitheatre/whatever it's calling itself nowadays) which is designed primarily for model airplane flying. I pull into the lot and light up a cigarette and started reading the book I'm studying for my class at the Henry George School, Economic Science. There are a couple other cars backed into spaces -- that's part of the "code." If you're backed into a space it means you're looking. Then a prospective partner backs into the space next to you, and as they say, "it's on."

Well, knowing this, I park normally at the far end of the lot, away from the other guys. Yet even so, in the space of the next hour four cars enter the parking lot and pull up right next to me, even though they could have parked anywhere. Each one sits there for a few moments. When they see I don't look at them, they back out and leave.

This one dude -- a fat, pasty white guy who looked about 55, wearing shades and driving a white hatchback -- pulls up on my right side. After a few moments, he leaves.

Then about 15 minutes later, comes back, drives toward me, U-turns, leaves again.

Then 20 minutes later, he's back again. Pulls in next to me. Leaves again.

After 20 more minutes, it's getting dark and I'm the only car left in the lot. Here he comes again! Man, this guy just won't take no for an answer. I ignore him. He goes away.

I wait a few minutes, and then go home. I hate being there when the cops comes to close the place down, because they probably assume I'm cruising too.

HOW IGNANT CAN YOU GET? I'd rather not have seen this, but I did. I'd just left the class at the Henry George School, where were talking about political economy. Afterwards, we students had hung around with the instructor and discussed education, why schools don't educate, the vital importance of educating yourself ... Stuff like that.

And so I get on the Red Line south and I sit down next to a little black girl who seems to be about 3. The apparent mother or caretaker is seated across the aisle. She looks to be under 20, and is bottle-feeding another child, a blanket-wrapped baby; also, sitting next to her is a third girl, who's about 8).

The 3-year-old who's next to me is clutching a couple of sections of the Reader that some other passenger had discarded. She looks up at me and smiles. Trying to mimic speech, she offers me a section of the newspaper. I say, "No thanks, I have my own. Why don't you read it?"

I actually then open up a newspaper I'm holding (it was the African paper, the Chicago Inquirer), and the little girl, looking at me, likewise opens up her copy of the Reader and starts pretending to read the classified ads.

But suddenly, mom gives an order. And like lightening, the big sis leaps across the aisle, growls "gimme dat!" and snatches the newspaper from the toddler's hands.

"Throw it under that seat!" the mom orders, motioning to her which seat to throw it under. The 8-year-old  crumples it up and chucks it underneath a seat. Then the mom barks to the 3-year-old, "Get over here!" The little girl comes over obediently and sits next to her mom, now only able to stare at people -- or stare out the window at the inside of the subway tunnel.

What just happened? I was astonished, then angry. Is it her goal to raise stupid children? The little girl was sitting there, quietly occupying herself, probably trying to teach herself to read (which is not really possible without learning phonics, which I'm sure will not be forthcoming from mom). For her trouble, she just got  yelled at, scowled at, and punished. Will this child grow up to have a love of reading and learning? Not if mama can help it.

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