“Personally Opposed”

Two individuals stroll down a dusky street: one tall, one small. The woman, slim and wearing a fashionable red dress, is the mother, Kim. The short, wide-eyed girl holding her hand is her daughter, Liza. The two live in the heart of New York, on the edge of a bad neighborhood, an area which they normally ignore and avoid. Tonight, however, Kim’s husband has gotten two front-row tickets to Evita, and since the family’s usual sitter is on vacation, Kim is dragging her ten-year-old through the grimy streets toward an acquaintance’s home, which is actually outside of the rundown district; but, for several reasons—including their car being in for repairs, this route being a short-cut, and Kim’s unwillingness to pay for a cab—here they are. While rushing through, Kim is dreaming of the delightful dancing and marvelous musical numbers that await at the Marquis Theatre, much too busy to pay any attention to the tragic poverty around her. This explains why, when Liza tugs on her mother’s sleeve to say, “Mommy, a bad man is hurting that woman,” Kim reacts as she does: turning away from the unshaven fellow—who happens to be waving a blade at a teenaged girl—and continuing to walk away as if nothing were the matter, dragging Liza with. “We can’t leave her,” insists Liza, “We have to help. That’s bad.” “Of course it’s bad,” says Kim, wrapping a reassuring arm around her daughter. “But it’s that man’s friend, and only he can decide whether to do the right thing or not.” “That’s not very…” says Liza, but her mother yanks her down the street so quickly that she swallows the words. Kim hopes that the incident is the worst the streets have to offer, but just a few minutes later, a young man comes sprinting down the street, pulling a clearly-exhausted dog behind him on a leash, the animal near the point of collapse, but forced to continue running. “Mommy, look! We have to do something!” says Liza, pulling on her mother’s hand with renewed urgency. But Kim quiets her once more. “We don’t have to do anything. It’s his dog, and he should be the one to decide to treat it well.” This logic forces Liza to think long enough for her mother to whoosh her far from the scene. In any case, they’re only a few blocks away. Kim mentally wipes the sweat from her brow. Very soon, she’ll be free of her daughter, free of these grimy streets, and free to admire Argentinian talent. But fate seems to be against her that night, and before she knows it, Kim feels a final tug on her sleeve. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy!” whispers Liza, with such desperation that Kim almost stops this time. “What, dear?” “There’s a woman up there.” “Up where?” “In that building.” “What about her?” “She’s going to drop—” “Liza, it’s not our business.” “It’s a baby!” Kim grabs her daughter by both shoulders and gives her a hard look. “Honey, listen to me, everyone makes choices in this world. Some are good, and some are bad. And of course, we’re personally opposed to threatening others with knives and pulling dogs too quickly and leaning out the window to drop…um…things, but—” “No!” Liza screams, tearing away. “Those are bad people doing bad things! Anyway, you’re not really opposed at all. You’re just scared!” With that, Liza goes to be more than “personally opposed.” She goes to be the opposition.

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