November 9, 2007
I totally stood you guys up yesterday. I promised a post, and I never delivered.
I'm feeling a lot like the absentee uncle who promised his seven little nephews a fishing trip to Florida, but pissed all of his money away on Bud Light and Marlboros. So instead, he takes them to a seedy local motel where they use dental floss and paperclips to fish for Orange Crush cans off the bottom of the pool.
Speaking of shady motels, we have one right behind our apartment complex--you can clearly see the florescent sign from our master bedroom window. It's called The Tropicana, everything about it is painted pastel pink, and for some reason, my friend Beth and I walk past it every single morning.
It's not like The Tropicana is on our way to anything--there are six-thousand and one routes we could take to avoid the hot-sheet dive--but every single morning, we strut by with our high-end strollers and casually assess the goings on.
Our next step is to start carrying binoculars.
We've seen a lot of typically trashtastic things at The Tropicana--old wood-paneled caravans held together with nothing but duct-tape and string, dollar-store thongs littering the street like Big Mac wrappers, and the obvious aftermath of a high school rager.
We've seen a variety of disgusting things at "The Pink Palace" as well. A raccoon hopping off the reception desk and scurrying out the front door of the lobby comes to mind.
And, of course, we've seen a lot of strange things, too. Like a prostitute dressed as a stereotypical librarian, a man driving off in a head-to-toe gorilla suit, and a maid exiting a room with a clear trash bag full of basketballs (?).
But yesterday morning, I saw the first thing that ever really bothered me at The Tropicana. It was two unsupervised children playing alone in the parking lot. They looked to be about nine or ten years old. One was a boy and one was a girl, and they were having a contest to see who could jump further off the trunk of a beaten-up purple Dodge Neon. The contest seemed to be pretty competitive, and the little girl had quite obviously inherited the majority of the jumping genes.
The fact that a parent or caretaker would leave two children alone in the parking lot of a pay-by-the-hour dive is nothing short of infuriating. At the very least, they're exposing those kids to the hustle and bustle of illegal and immoral activity. At the very most, they've inadvertently converted those children into unsuspecting, vulnerable, and friendly little targets.
I watched, as the man who owns the nursery next store waved the kids over and put them to work tossing overripe pumpkins and big, wilted mums into the nearby dumpster. They were excited to help, and I know he was relieved to have them out of harm's way.
As I walked down the street and began to head home, I felt grateful that the boy and the girl were safe for the next little while. But I couldn't help but wonder--if they were lured away so quickly with a pile of rotted-out pumpkins, how easy would it be to lure them away with candy bars or video games?
It's a really, really terrible thought.
(sorry for the doomsday post--but it's been on my mind)