Sunday, February 19, 2012

Odd Thoughts

You may have noticed that I did not publish yesterday. I'll admit, I almost didn't publish again today. I'm working with a team writing an article for journal publication and it has eaten almost all of my free time this weekend. I'm only here now because I've had problems with Word and can't figure out how to do what I need to do. After frustrating myself, I've given up. So, I'm got time this morning that I didn't think I'd have.

We did get out yesterday for lunch in a food court and to catch a movie. We saw 'Albert Nobbs' and my reaction is so complex, I can't even think of how to write it. Then, let me comment on the food court experience. I love food courts. It's taken me a while to come to this conclusion. For the longest time I found them noisy and crowded and difficult to get around. I still find that true. However, now I see them as something very peculiarly democratic.

We're all there.


I don't think I've ever been to a food court that hasn't been bustling with diversity. Everyone is there, everyone is talking and eating and communing. As a really fat guy in a wheelchair, I always draw attention when I pull up to a table, but moments later, people are distracted by their food, by other newcomers, by the very act of being out in public. I like being surrounded by difference. I like the size and the texture of the human community. I like seeing all the different colours and shapes and sizes. I like seeing all the different ways of being, ways of communicating, ways of moving. I like seeing the old feed the young and the young inspire the old. I like it all. I like that Joe had Thai, I had Indian, the table next to us had burgers and the guy across has spags. Tables full of diversity surrounded by a diversity of choices.

Yesterday we ran into someone we met before and the atmosphere of the food court was one of spontaneity and welcome. Our little crowd grew as others joined and we all laughed and talked. About nothing. About everything. The informality of the place dictated that we be simply ourselves in each other's presence. It was fun. Being on the road can be lonely so it was a break from our own company.

Leaving the food court to go to the theatre, was like leaving a safe place and entering one much less so. From the mass of humanity we became individuals all eyeing each other, weighing and comparing value. I wonder why I feel more like an individual a crowd than I do anywhere else. They say 'it takes a village' ... I'm not sure that what it takes isn't simply a food court.


Maggie said...

We missed you!

... and it's lovely to take a break now and then, especially when free time is eaten by a valuable-but-frustrating project. (And don't get me started about software that won't do either what it's told or what I want).

I love food courts, too, especially the ones where the designers have given some thought to both accessibility and ambience. Some of the early mall food-courts just offered an assortment of high-speed-delivery over-processed food-imitations in a huge room that was far too noisy because all of its surfaces were easy to clean. Recently though I've been in a few that have some sound-deadening materials hanging in colored banners from the ceilings and offer a wide variety of genuinely fresh food.

My mate can eat burgers while I eat sushi and our friend eats lasagna. I love food courts; thanks for writing about them.

L. said...

Dave, this must be a Canadian bit of lingo, but what are "spags"?

I wish our food court was as diverse as yours, food- wise :) but I do agree with your real point. We almost never go to our local mall, so when I spent some time in its food court recently, I was interested and surprised by the breadth of people types there. Or, for example, to see that although we live in a very white area, a sari store had opened to serve our growing immigrant population. It is a central gathering place for everybody, and I really enjoyed it for that.

Dave Hingsburger said...

L. sorry, 'spags' is just a short form of 'spaghetti' ... your question caused a conversation between Joe and I. We don't know if it's just a term we use or if it's a Canadianism. I'll let others tell us!

Atomic Geography said...

We're not all there.

I'm sad that you made such a point of it.

I'm glad you had the experience of being just another person in the crowd.

But everyone is not there.

I rejoice that you could have that experience. But I am sad that upon reflection, you still forgot.

Everyone is not there.

John R. said...

"spags" was a term used in my very, very blue collar American upbringing (upstate NY...close to Canada).....therefore, I do not think it is a term specific to Canada...I do not use the term now but do not think that my provincial family gathered the terminology from Canada....In fact, I am not sure my family knew where Canada was situated....thus, why I am a social worker by profession and a recipient of years of therapy...I am having "spags" this evening with my family (who are from Japan and Italy respectively)

Dave Hingsburger said...

Bob, could you expand on what you wrote please. I'm not sure I understand what you are saying and I really want to ... if I got it wrong, I'm open to hearing so and re-reflecting if that's possible to do.

Anonymous said...

For whatever it is worth, I'm fairly sure "spags" is not used as such in either the Boston metropolitan area nor in Washington DC. At least, not among the people I've known in either location!

Anonymous said...

Dave - I believe Bob is commenting on your statement placed about 3 paragraphs in, "We're all there."

Perhaps Bob is unable to be in such a place (food court) or does not feel he is represented in such a forum.

It is a rather inclusive statement, which could sting if it couldn't apply to you - as much as you may wish.

Just someone looking at things from a different angle I imagine. As frustrating as your mobility challenges are - there are others who have more.

Kudos for trying to understand - hopefully Bob will clarify.