Saturday, January 28, 2006

I'm ethnic, you're ethnic, he/she/it is ethnic...

The Ethnic Float:

Note Danish nisse sticker, doled out by RW from her special stash, and the moose, strategically parked at the corner of Denmark and Wyoming. (We had to wedge him in the corner because otherwise he flopped right over, despite the cork stuffed into his empty little finger-puppet body.)

Er, not that there are any moose in Denmark. Except possibly at the zoo. RW thinks there might be some in Norway, where we have no relatives.

The Statue of Liberty, creating a 3-D effect in front of an old postcard of mine. That orange blob taped in front of it is a plastic camel. It's supposed to represent Israel, as is the silver Chanukah gelt to the left.

Vancouver, of course, is for Uncle Skaterboy. It's also where MG was, uh, started. We didn't actually go into that with her. Too busy teaching her how to make masking-tape loops to hold everything down.

So, it turns out, all it takes is one little kink in our schedule and everything falls apart. In this case, that was the Ethnic Potluck, which was a sweet and valiant attempt to make the most of what little ethnic diversity there is at Mermaid Girl's blindingly monochromatic elementary school (about which I should just cease taking potshots, since--as dawned on me about this time last year--if living in racial/ethnic diversity were really truly our priority, we'd be living on the other side of town. Or, Seattle being what it is, in a different town entirely. So I'll shut up about it now and just report).

Tuesday was devoted to tracking down pastrami and rye bread for the pastrami sandwiches with pickles with which I was representing my ethnic heritage. I listed their origin as "New York Jewish," since I have no idea whether they really ate pastrami sandwiches back in Mother Russia. Somehow, I doubt it. But what do I know?).

Wednesday was the Potluck Itself, which was, like most events at MG's school, a cacophany of noisy kids and adults all barrelling around (and occasionally into) each other in the cafeteria, which was decorated for the occasion with the sayings of many nations, a quilt of Martin Luther King-related factoids (by the third graders, maybe? or fourth?), and the kindergarteners' Ethnic Floats.

There was a lot of food. RW counted at least four kugels on the "International Noodles" table. Everyone had a little form whereupon they were supposed to identify their food's name and country of origin. There was shepherd's pie and rice and beans and several Asian noodle dishes and sushi, and chips and salsa, and some borscht that looked delicious but was unfortunately unaccompanied by a serving ladle or any spoons or bowls. One beleagured parent filled out his/her form as follows: “Name of dish: Something fast with pork in it. Nationality: American??”

Someone stood up and mouthed some heartfelt platitudes about people celebrating differences and how it makes the world a better place and might save us all. A (white) librarian told an Anansi story. Some first-graders sang a Chinese New Year song that sounded suspiciously like “My Darling Clementine.” MG ate some Norwegian Getost, the inside of her pastrami sandwich, an orange, an Indonesian doughnut-like dessert, and the inside of a Pennsylvania Dutch whoopee-pie. And two fortune cookies.

Then the sound system screeched and blasted our ears off, and we decided it was time to go home and recover.

I veer between thinking that the whole event was laudable, embarrassing, or both. It was certainly American, for what that's worth.

And the food was excellent. Though I didn't get in line fast enough to grab any sushi.


Anonymous badgerbag said...

"I veer between thinking that the whole event was laudable, embarrassing, or both. It was certainly American, for what that's worth."

I've SO had that same experience... and very similar feelings about it! ahahah!

12:52 AM  

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