PRATIE PLACE

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Sweet evenings with Menticia

I've worried about being away from my mentee, who starts sixth grade in a couple weeks, so even though I was tired and cranky last week after my long trip, I saw her the day after I got back from Paris.

We went to dinner and she wanted to talk about "The Da Vinci Code," which her older brother is reading. She was convinced, of course, that everything in the book is true, because that's what her older brother told her. I'd neither read the book nor seen the movie, but we had an excellent discussion anyway about these two words:
  1. Gullible
  2. Skeptical

When we got back to my house we sought websites on this theme: "Dan Brown's assertions: Truth or Fiction?", and we talked about how believable the websites themselves were. And I pointed out there are some things which she, Menticia, adamantly believed in a year ago (like trolls, for instance) which have now fallen off her map of the real world.

Last night was my last chance to see her before I leave for Massachusetts on Wednesday, so we had another date.

I'd somewhat underestimated how much time the afternoon's wedding gig would take ("Twist and Shout" was, by the way, our last and most popular number - to our delighted astonishment, many elderly people of all sizes and shapes got up and danced with enthusiasm) so I had to go straight to Menticia still dressed in my work clothes.

When she told me her mother had remarked this was the first time I'd been late to pick her up (seven whole minutes) in our almost two years together, I felt absurdly proud.

I wanted to walk - after sitting and sawing away at the fiddle all afternoon - but Menticia said it was still too hot. So we went down to Chapel Hill, to the Kurama Sushi & Noodle Express, a Japanese dinette that has a conveyor belt (well, the review calls it a "mechanized sushi-go-round") trundling around the room carrying little plates of delicacies past waiting customers seated at the counter.

Since this is the sort of thing for which I have great enthusiasm, we talked about "real" conveyor belts, which are straight, and what an assembly line is, and then we talked about this sushi-go-round, which was made of little circles of metal so it could go around corners, and we speculated on how it was driven. It was like watching suitcases go by on a baggage carousel.

Menticia methodically scrutinized the foods as they circled past us, several times around, before making her first selection. I absolutely loved this setup and was reminded of how I admired the Horn and Hardart Automat when I was a kid.

Do you remember automats? A suburban kid on a rare outing to the Big City, I'd come through the revolving door (a mystery in itself) and be immediately dazzled. Every wall covered with rows and columns of gleaming little aluminum doors with little glass windows, and there was food behind those windows. You put in your nickels and opened the doors and took the food out and, after a while, the food would be magically replaced.

I wasn't so good at looking behind things when I was little, so, since it never occurred to me that there were actual people walking around behind those walls of little doors, the place seemed miraculously futuristic. The food wasn't very good, but the fun more than made up for it.

It wasn't hard to amaze me back then.

I found a 20-Euro-cent coin in my purse and gave it to Menticia. I wrote down the exchange rate on a napkin and challenged her to figure out how much the coin was worth in "real" money. As usual, though she's "studied" decimal points in school, she had absolutely no idea how to tackle the puzzle. That was a bit discouraging.

Then I took her to the home-made ice-cream place near her house (it used to have a smallish arty cow outside made out of buckets and other found objects, but somebody has stolen it). It was my plan to get her hooked on Harry Potter #5 while her mouth was full of fudge sauce.

This place, generally staffed by teenagers who are either high or permanently befuddled, had a scrawled sign on the door which said "back at 3:30." Since it was already 7:30, the sign's credibility was tarnished (see "skeptical," above), and we decided to go elsewhere.

I drove her out to Mapleview Farms and she read to me on the way. We sat on the porch and watched the sun set beyond the meadow, silhouetting the hormone-free cows (silhouette was one of the new words in Order of the Phoenix, Chapter One).

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2 Comments:

At 11:39 AM, Anonymous Sylvia said...

You're a very nice person. In my little universe the gift of time is right up there behind the gifts of life and love.

I think your photos of Paris are spectacular...such color! Please post more if you have them.

 
At 4:37 PM, Anonymous alma said...

Regarding DaVinci Code, the History Channel has a very good program that discusses the claims in the book. Much light is shed on the probabilities, possibilities and some out-right impossibilities. With the popularity of the book and movie, they they run this program all the time. I think you and Menticia would like it.

 

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