A dear friend of mine went with me in search of Seattle’s gothy/new wave jams (I doubt I’m allowed to call them “jams”) and we ended our night, successful, at 2 AM on Capitol Hill. While traversing the blocks to our parked car, we met a man she knew waiting at a corner. He was tall, white, head shaven, older than me, head-to-toe in what I remember as a floor length black tunic (so far, he could be my husband, similarity-wise, except), he wore an eye patch over his left eye and clutched some sort of walking cane. He was very gentlemanly and engaged in conversation with my friend.
At his waist, dancing in and out of the street, was a black girl, dressed in all black herself, in glasses and curls, bobbing left and right, and sometimes in between the two chatterers – saying only, “sushi.” I guessed her age to be about 8. The conversing pals paid her no mind, as she wandered away, wandered forward again, sometimes twirled, and uttered only, “sushi.”
She went remarkably unobserved for what felt like quite awhile. Her Rain Man repetition of the word “sushi” left me certain that she was a mentally deficient homeless child, and I seriously began to worry about her wellbeing. Bob, weave, twirl, “sushi!”
In 2006 you could still walk over the border into Mexico without a passport. I did so with my husband, from Arizona into Naco. Within the first block the kids came begging, pouring out of seemingly empty alleys – some selling, some just asking, some in Spanish, some in English. All a little heartbreaking. That’s where I learned the borders of Mexico weren’t exactly Puerto Vallarta. It’s also where my husband flashed back to 2003 in Iraq, recalling the children that would chase his Humvee in the street pleading for candy, “Mista! Mista! Choc-o-lawt?”
I’ve seen a lot of wandering, begging children in my day. Naturally, I had every reason to think this girl, this mentally handicapped, homeless, 8 year old girl was….well….. a mentally handicapped, homeless, 8 year old girl. One that was out at 2 AM in the mean streets of the city, was apparently desperate for sushi, and was being completely ignored by society.
After at least two minutes of “sushi”, wander, swivel, pace, ballet pirouette, “sushi!” (if you’re familiar with the episode of “The Big Bang Theory” where Dr. Sheldon Cooper pops in and out of the ball pit with only a hasty “Bazinga……..bazinga….”, it was like that) I felt compelled to do something. I approached this poor, retarded little girl and said, with all heartfelt sincerity, “Sweetie? Where are your parents?!”
She turned to me, looking at me for the first time, and with absolutely no malice, just a touch of shock, she replied, “I’m 26.”
And my friend laughed and said, “Yeah Nik, didn’t you see her in the club?”
And the Gothic Pirate said, “She’s just really drunk.”
Now, you know how sometimes, when you say a stupid thing, an avalanche of other stupid things come roaring out of your hapless mountain of a mouth? No? Never happens to you? Oh yeah. Well, me either. That’s why the next thing I said totally wasn’t, “Oh! I’m so sorry. It’s just that my ten year old daughter is taller than you.”
“I mean I have giant babies, is all.”
“I mean I breed with giants.”
There was laughter. In the end. And I discovered who the mentally deficient one was.
And that’s good, at least.