Friday, March 18, 2005

Woman Bites Dog

Why I Take Viva to a Park that's 2 Miles Away When We Live 2 Blocks from a Park

1. There are always at least three (presumably) homeless people sleeping in various places in my neighborhood park. It is just one block south of a main urban thoroughfare -- Sunset Blvd.

2. There are prostitutes of various genders and inclinations in the area. Which is fine and dandy, world's oldest profession and all that, but I would prefer that Viva not actually have to see any, I don't know, transaction, should we say?

3. I have witnessed what I believe is drug activity at the park. I think they call it possession and distribution. I have seen too many Law & Order episodes, clearly. But seriously, I have seen cars pull up, cash handed over, and a second person further down the block hand over the goods. By the way, this is about three blocks from the police station.

4. Sweet William has told me matter-of-factly numerous times not to go to "the Bum Park."

And yet, it is a lovely park. Nice big trees, park benches with little paths, and a playground area with sand and swings and climbing structures for little ones. It always looks pretty peaceful. I mean, the transients seem pretty pleased with it; it must be a pretty peaceful place to flop.

The other day, I piled Viva into the car and drove first to the post office, where I mailed my credit card payment, and then drove past the Bum Park on the way to the Nice Friendly Bum-Free park, where unicorns frolic and ice cream grows on trees. From the back seat:

Viva: I wanna go dere!
Me [hoping against hope]: Where, baby?
Viva: I wanna go dere! Dat park!
Me: Oh, baby, really? You wanna go to that park?
Viva: Yes!
Me: Oh, sweetie, but if we do that, we won't see your friends. Don't you want to see--
Viva [on edge of tears]: I wanna go dat park! [breaking down] I wanna go dat park...[sob sob sob]
Me [sigh, turning right]: Okay, honey. We'll give it a shot. It sure would make things easier...

So after I made a complete circle around the block, we parked, got out and walked into the park -- just behind a guy with two pitbulls. Red flag #1.

We went to the playground, at the far end of the park, furthest away from the gate. In fact, there is a gate at that end, but it is locked. I guess because if you are on the playground and need to make a quick getaway, you can't. Maybe this is helpful to the cops in some way, but it sure wasn't helpful to me. We said hello to the family that was already at the playground. They said nothing in return. We shared the climbing structure in relative silence, since although Viva kept smiling and saying "hi" every now and then, the kids did not return her greeting. Red flag #1 1/2.

We went on the swings, with me keeping an eye on the dogs, who were off the leash and chasing a huge stick, at times grappling with each other and snarling. Their owner was sort of keeping an eye on them, I guess, but then he got a cell phone call, which must have been very important. Too important to pay attention to his dogs and/or maybe put them on a leash, as many signs posted throughout the park demanded that he do. Viva and I had sat down on a park bench and she was eating a blueberry cereal bar, and all of a sudden these two dogs went thundering through the playground, chasing each other and snarling, right where we had been crossing the sand mere minutes before. Now, I don't know about you, but I have been bitten by a dog before. A dog that was not rabid, that was a family pet, that I did not provoke in any way. And, you know what? Fuck that. I picked Viva up and beat it the hell out of there.

Viva's friends were happy to see her.

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