Slow To Anger

“Clap now H-!” he said, clapping his own hands in the process.

She began to clap and asked, “Why daddy, why?  What happened?”

“Our team did a good thing.  And you clap when that happens,” he explained.

“The purple team?” she asked.

“Yes, the purple team.  Remember, it’s like I said earlier.  Just watch the crowd.  When the people wearing purple clap, then you know it’s time to clap,” he reiterated, “but if you hear clapping and see people in red clapping–then don’t.  They are the enemy.”

“Clap when the purple people are clapping?” H- asked.

“That’s right.”

The father-daughter duo found themselves amidst an afternoon ballgame’s cheering crowd.  The team played in a city whose native residents prided themselves on their origins, and the nearly overwhelming amount of fans wearing red illustrated why.  Seated next to the pair was one such Cardinal fan who was unafraid to sport that day’s evil color.  And next to her sat a teenage daughter who was about to leave for college.  This was learned from the bits and pieces of their conversation that could be heard over the PA announcer, H-‘s incessant demand to know when there would be some shade and/or dessert, and the roar of the crowd.  This mother, then, was already nostalgic.

“How old is she-” she started to ask, addressing the man.  His face wore raised eyebrows and wide eyes which he hoped would express some mix of “Why are you asking me?’ and “She’s not deaf'”, so the woman turned to the little girl.  Re-starting, she asked, “How old are you?”

“Four,” H- answered politely.

“And what’s your name?”

“H-,” answered the girl who then had to clarify upon the mother needing help with the slightly uncommon name.  “What’s your name?” H- asked in kind.

“B-,” the woman answered.

“B-?”

“Yes, that’s right.”

“What’s your last name?”  H- asked, never straying from the divinely ordained interrogation method.

“Watts,” B- answered.

As if used to having to repeat herself, or perhaps simply aware that it was a noisy environment, H- repeated herself calmy, saying, “I said, ‘What’s your last name?'”

B- chuckled at this unforeseen development while shrugging as she looked back at another similarly stationed mother who was seated one row up with her teen and was intently listening in on the interaction.  As B- answered H- again with “Watts”, her sunglasses did little to hide her sharpened determination to speak clearly.

It was only after the three of them–father, B-, and the mother from the row above–saw H-‘s perfect expression of almost-frustration as she was about to complete the question for the third time that the problem became clear to everyone but H-.

“H-,” the father asserted, now laughing and shaking his head.  (So focused was H- on learning B-‘s surname that this interrupting voice and calming touch on the shoulder could be seen to startle her.)  Nonetheless, the man continued, “She’s not asking ‘What?’  She’s saying her last name.  Her last name is the word ‘Watts’.  Watts.”

“Watts?” H- questioned.

“Yes.  Watts,” he answered.

“But we don’t clap when she claps, because she’s wearing red,” H- said.

“That’s right.  She’s the enemy,” he said, smiling proudly.

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