Debra rounded the side of the school just as the skies opened up. She shifted boxes of snacks as she struggled with her umbrella and rushed over to the visiting team’s bench.
She was only ten minutes late but this part of the city confounded her with its labyrinth of tiny narrow streets. She hoped Melanie would forgive her. She made a big deal of waving frantically when her daughter looked up and noticed her as she settled into a spot on the bleachers with the other parents from the visiting school.
They were a conservative-looking bunch under their umbrellas and hooded jackets; polo shirts and khakis for the very occasional dad, with the mothers dolled up in their upper middle-class finery of cropped pants, ballet flats and pretty cashmere sweaters. Debra cheered enthusiastically when Melanie’s team got control of the ball.
On the next set of bleachers, the home team parents were a rougher-looking bunch.
“Goodness, it’s all very ‘urban’, isn’t it?” asked Ginny Wilson, the goalie’s mother, as the home team parents erupted in a raucous cheer when one of theirs scored a goal.
Debra tried to ignore the racist insinuation in Ginny’s comment. They came from a very white suburb and this was obviously a very mixed community; kids and parents were clearly from a variety of cultures and backgrounds, represented by everything from blue dreadlocks and tattoos to hijabs, turbans and door-knocker earrings.
“It’s good for the kids to meet new and different people,” she replied, trying to sound open-minded without triggering a debate. Debra liked the folks in her community well enough but found some of them excessively narrow in their views on other cultures. She hated debating with them, and made a point of avoiding discussions on anything resembling differences. It wasn’t that she agreed with Ginny but she’d rather not have to defend her point of view.
Ginny sniffed with disdain. “I guess, but there are some people I’d rather my kids not interact with, you know?”
At that moment the home team scored another goal and a bunch of parents stood up to cheer. One women in particular was louder than the others, her distinctive voice echoing across the field.
“That’s it Katy, kick ’em in the bleedin’ arse!!”
The visiting parents uttered a collective gasp at the swear word, loud enough to be heard, and the woman turned to look at them with a wide grin on her face as she twirled her umbrella. “Oi, you bunch of pearl-clutchers! Get over yourselves!”
It was then that Debra paired the woman’s distinctive voice with her wild, curly hair, big eyes and sarcastic smile. Patty Smash. THE Patty Smash. At her daughter’s football game.