Last Saturday, the family surprised me with a trip to the Monster Truck show down at the Citrus Bowl. It was loads of fun, but the parking was a bit tricky. We ended up parking on some guy’s lawn in Paramorre. If you’ve ever been to Orlando, you’ve probably heard of Paramorre. It’s the district the locals tell you to stay away from.
Despite its reputation, it’s a lot better than it used to be. Even so, it’s not the kind of place you want to be walking your family through at night.
On the way over, I noticed my eight-year old had his jacket zipped up over his chin. His eyes darted all around, taking in the graffitti, the abandoned buildings, the police working the crowds, and the weirdly ominous rusted chain link fence.
I bent down as we walked. He and I were in front of his younger brother and mom, so they couldn’t see what I was doing or saying. “Hey big guy,” I said. “Let me show you something.”
He looked at me suspiciously.
“No really,” I said. “You’re big enough to learn how to walk. Let me show you.”
At his nod, I unzipped his jacket. “Leave it unzipped, okay? Now kind of roll your shoulders when you walk. Keep your feet farther apart. You don’t want them to touch each other.”
After a few more instructions, the big guy was walking like John Wayne.
“Okay,” I said. “Now relax it. You want to look like you can handle anything. Doesn’t matter if a ten foot tall fire-breathing giant shows up, you can handle it.”
He gave me another startled look.
“And if you can’t, I can,” I added. “I’m right here, too.”
That seemed to do the trick. All his jitters left him, and he walked down the sidewalk like he owned it. “Looking strong,” I said. “Nobody’s going to bother you now.”
“Not only that,” he said, waggling his eyebrows at me. “But there are pretty girls.”
He flashed me a big grin, and then went back to his serious-faced walking.
Ah yes, the pretty girls. Can’t forget those.