This week I attended my first high school football game in years. My son’s a freshman flutist and plays in the band. It was the season opener and I beamed with pride as his flute contributed to Cameo’s “Word Up.” But sitting on those bleachers was painful for someone with only the padding God gave me. Frankly, it made me rethink those butt implants I’d put on hold, but it also made me rethink judgement and race in America.
My son and I moved to Los Angeles last year. Living in California has been an acquired taste. If you ever saw the SNL skit ‘The Californians’ and laughed your head off, this has become my life. Californians do things their own Californian way and being from the east coast doesn’t make it any more appreciated or sensible. You simply have to accept it. For example, my son’s football game was scheduled to kick off at 7:00. When I arrived to the gate at 6:58 they were already playing. Yep. Started early. That’d never happen on the east coast. Not only that but the Californians had one person accepting cash for tickets for a line longer than one at In and Out Burger. Anyway, I waited ten minutes to give the ticket taker eight dollars of my money so that I could take pictures while wishing I had tucked two whoopee cushions in my bag—one for each cheek.
Now, on to the seating arrangements… I pride myself with being a practical parent. Therefore, I didn’t want to spend a whole lotta time looking for a seat inside the stadium. So, I sat closest to my son and the band which happened to be in the handicapped section. Before you judge me, sitting in the handicapped section means parlaying on the first row of these aluminum bleachers and parking next to someone who may not be able to walk so good or someone who may be in a wheelchair. When I strolled up, there was plenty of handicap seating and not so many spaces for the non-handicapped so there I sat.
For the first ten minutes of the game, I enjoyed my prime seating, the band played beautifully, our team was winning and the cheerleaders were appropriately bouncy and full of cheer. But somewhere along the 11th minute, my neighbor who had brought her own seat to the handicapped section turned to me, tapped my arm and said,
“That black girl with the purple hair, she doesn’t smile at all, just look at her. She doesn’t smile, she doesn’t deserve to be a cheerleader.”
I tell my children that I will TRY NOT to embarrass them in public. I tell my children that I WILL TRY to be on my best behavior at all times. But, in that moment, I’m like, “Oh no, this old biddy didn’t. Sisters in solidarity, Rise up!”
Mindful that my son is sensitive and I’m sure he doesn’t want his mom banned from the rest of the games on the VERY FIRST game, I tell the lady, “I’m not going to look at her. We don’t know what kind of day she’s had. Maybe she’s not smiling because she has a reason not to.” Then, I proceeded to roll my eyes. I mean I didn’t roll them from Arizona to LA but I did roll them from Santa Monica to Culver City (a much shorter distance.)
Anyway, now I’m heated. I wanna really go off on this lady because why she gotta single out the black girl? And, why she gonna tap me, her African American bleacher mate and tell me about it?
She should keep that non-sense to herself. So now I’m feeling fidgety. I wanna go all in. I wanna say stuff that I shouldn’t say and my son is behind me about 4 rows to my left and all I’m thinking about are the cuss words combinations from my youth. I’m officially in a pickle at the first game of the year.
Then, peaceful Yasmin decides to show up. I decide to inhale, think happy thoughts and try to take photos of my son. The aluminum is cutting into my backside like a hacksaw and the high school girl sitting next to me who also is not handicapped keeps bumping into me. I’m ready to elbow her into October, but that wouldn’t be right so I keep my pointy bones to myself.
Now, back to the Trump supporter who’s seated next to me… My son’s school scores a touchdown and just like a scene out of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, this geezer smiles at me—all 64 of her dentures. She’s grinning like she’s won the lottery.
I don’t know if it’s guilt but I hear her mumbling to herself, “We don’t know what kind of day she’s having. We don’t know what kind of day she’s having…”
Delayed reaction sure. I’m almost expecting her to repeat, “I’m not gonna look at her…” but she doesn’t. I don’t return my pearly whites, I’m still sorta annoyed because I didn’t come to the game for this. I came to listen to one flute player, but as usual whenever I go to do one thing, God shows me something else. On this night, he showed me how quickly strangers judge each other. I finally stand and take a walk. It’s halftime. I’m not going back to sit next to the judgy old lady, I’m going to do something productive instead. I’m going to write a blog post about how messed up she is.
Former SuperHero Who's Cutting The Cape
SuperDuperYasmin aka Yasmin Shiraz is the author of several books and screenplays. Some you may have even heard of… Follow her if you like real people who are also sorta funny.