Sunday, May 8, 2016 – Mother’s Day
I want to tell you another train story, but this is a sad one – a little girl’s discovery of evil. I haven’t known what to do about sad train stories, to say the truth, but the sad truth is, they’re there. There are no monsters at the mall, or none that I’ve met, but still there is tragedy – the kind that lasts a lifetime.
So this is a tragedy about religion and silent cinema.
Every story I have to tell about my time driving the choo-choo train at the mall is a story about religion, ultimately, because the train itself is the first idol in the lives of the children who idolize it.
And a whole lot of train stories are silent cinema because, in the din of the mall, with the clamor of the train, if we’re not standing face to face or speaking mouth to ear, there is no point in anyone talking. To drive the train is to communicate by signalling – by hand gestures and facial expressions.
And I see your part of the story whether or not you’re aware of me, and I see more than most people do in the first place, and I see the same silent movies over and over again – different players, same scenes. And that makes it easy to spot the things I’ve never seen before.
So: A taxonomy: Infants, babies, toddlers, children. Infants bawl and sleep. Babies bubble and coo. Toddlers babble in words used as signals. Children converse – in abstract conceptual language. Infants, babies and toddlers are mammals graduating into their potential humanity. Children are short, inexperienced human beings.
To infants, the train is a loud distraction, at best, and a reliable nap-disturber. To babies, it is the wondrous other, vast and thrilling and incomprehensible. My choo-choo is a benevolent dragon to toddlers, a true super-hero, a great and powerful presence who is nevertheless perfectly reliable – unlike, perhaps, some other could-be-heroes (more…)