Monday, January 3, 2011

A Burqa, Some Bikinis and Me

My parents decided to go rogue this Christmas and mix up the gifts ideas. Instead of buying toys, they bought all 24 of us a day pass to the local indoor water park. Plus pizza. For 24 people, that's a pretty generous gift. Plus, it's memorable and didn't get lost in the shuffle of tissue paper and gift cards.

Have you been to an indoor water park in late December?

A) It's -2 degrees outside, a balmy 83 degrees inside. Freaky.
B) There's water and squealing everywhere.
C) There's winter bodies in summer attire. Eww.

I don't do water parks for two reasons:

A) See above, C.

B) I don't like water in my face. Not even in the shower. So why would I pay to stand under a giant bucket of water or sit in the wake of a tube slide? Plus, there's bare feet. Again, eww.

So whilst my kids were frolicking in the cess pool of half-dressed humanity, I spent the time people watching. I could not help noticing the Muslim family to my right. This is just not a place I'm accustomed to seeing Muslim dress. The mom stood out because she was covered in head to toe cloth. The only flesh I ever saw on her was her eyes. And she was in the kiddie pool. I became fascinated and stared openly only when she went to sit down and the material billowed up and around her, like a giant lily pad. I was jealous. If anything would  give me a reason to frolic in a public pool, it would be the burqa. There was absolutely no love handles to criticize or thunder thighs to wince at. Everything was hidden. Genius, sheer genius.

Sometime that day we ate pizza. At this water park, the eating area is pretty much right in the water park. So as I'm eating my pepperoni pizza, I get to watch the activities of the water park, much like one watches a football game or C-SPAN on pizza night.

All the while we are eating Christmas dinner on greased soaked paper plates, the burqa is bobbing; a pregnant woman in a polka-dot bikini is parading back and forth in my viewing area; a pale man with a belly that proceeds him tugs at his Hawaiian swim trunks; the usual assortment of dragons, unicorns and dolphins glisten on calves, backs, elbows and ankles; perpetually entwined honeymooners try to navigate the stairs without releasing their grip; two bitter lifeguards whistle shrilly at running children, lots of screaming children, more screaming parents, thirty-something women sit in a group, drinking beer in their terry cloth towels; more tattoos, wet hair, running mascara and me.

The whole time I'm eating my Christmas pizza, and watching the aquatic circus in front of me, O Holy Night is blasting over the intercom.  I hear it above the din of the rushing water and clanging boat bells.

All that to say, the kids had a great time. They were pooped and wet and wrinkled and wrapped in towels at the end of the day. It wasn't typical, but at least it was memorable.

This was definitely not a typical Christmas celebration. But I wonder if Mary looked around her at the hay, the animals, the strangers, her new child and thought, "This isn't typical, but at least it's memorable."

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