Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Man Who Sits In Toothpaste

Daughter: How are you so white daddy? Your bum looks like it's made of coconut.


I've asked people here a ludicrous amount of questions since I moved. Admittedly at first it was either "why in God's name are you wearing a coat?" And, "please - it's so brutally hot - why do people live here? You have to tell me..." I remember spending a morning at coffee shops and the library asking other people if they also spend their relaxing evenings on their apartment balconies under the warm glow of police helicopters. After some deeply uncomfortable encounters that then moved to me asking random people (and I genuinely do mean random strangers) "how the hell can there be a bug in my house the size of a babies foot?" And, "if there really is no way to stop scorpions from getting inside your house WHY DO PEOPLE LIVE HERE?" After a very short period of time  - as I warmed to the place (very much in a solar sense) that changed to asking people why every other block you drive down has a dentist, an Urgent Care and a Wallgreens on it. And why the Urgent Care places have named themselves Ouch! Personally I think that makes minor wounds seem a little too playfully cute. Very much in the American lexicon of, "Friendly Fire." Although that has convinced me that all STDs should have an exclamation mark at the end of them when written from now on. Imagine much brighter would someones day would be after going to the doctor because their urethra itches to look down at the pamphlet they've given to read, "So - You've Got Herpes!"

My curiosity spilled over to my kids. Who in turn remembered lots of questions they had when they moved here six months earlier. However - just like me - that was a startlingly brief period, and their questions quickly evolved into asking (usually whilst laughing) why I was so white. Or, "can I have a milkshake?" Or why people spent so much time and money trying to grow grass in their yard when a) it's the desert, and b) it always ends up looking like the world's worst mini golf course. My son wanted to know why there are so many girls in bikinis on every other street corner jiggling at you to go get a car wash. Actually that's hilarious - there are LOADS of these bikini-girls. The hilarious part being that almost every time if you look fifteen feet to the nearest parking lot where you can get your car washed you will nearly always see four or five massive Mexican men waiting to wash your car. It's the perfect boner killer for those perverts that saw the fifteen year old girl jumping and down - only to now find themselves sat uncomfortably in their car outside a Title Max Loans as that girls dad and his brothers glare menacingly through the windshield.

I cannot stress how hilarious my daughter thought the whiter parts of my body were as the more exposed parts became more tanned. She would ask me how I was so white all the time. She'd even ask if I'd visited the opposite of Arizona and somehow got whiter. Coconuts. Milk. Toothpaste. These are just three things she accused me of sitting in to get such a white bottom. Every other hour I could tell by the lilt in her voice that she was driven again to ask, "But Daddy - How!?!" My son wanted to know why anyone would be remotely interested in Thomas the Tank Engine. Yeah - let that sink in. If ever there was a candidate to grow up and be on one of those Channel Five television shows about people who might have put their willy on a train it would have been him. But not now. Thomas is so 2013, man. More on that another time though.

My daughter also wanted very much to know why scientists hadn't invented a playground that wasn't made out of plastic and metal - especially considering that in Upstate New York in Summer you couldn't go down a slide because you'd singe your arse. Yet here we were in Glendale, Arizona where it was Summer in December. Actually parks have canopies over them. So do parking lots and cafes and outdoor sitting anywhere. This is a place where people move to so they can spend their days avoiding seasons, rain and having to stay indoors because the weather is crappy. And yet from the end of June through early October people avoid going outside for fear the sun might touch their skin and burn it instantly. Think that bit in Indiana Jones and The Raiders of The Lost Ark when the Nazis open the Arc of the Covenant. Or getting Russell Brand's sperm on your skin. That kind of brutal.


And no - I didn't consider resolving the Casper The Friendly Ghost whiteness of my derriere by taking a few trips down a slide or two. Good old fashioned flashing joggers in the park did the trick there.

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