The GGA Project -- Day #87 "Shady Business"

Today I went to my best friend Nicole's house to hang out with her and her daughters Maya and Sureya (Monkey's girlfriend).  Since it was such a beautiful day, we decided to go for a stroll through SJSU's campus (where, we agree, the students seem younger and younger every year, a sign of our own impending old age), into downtown San Jose.

Nicole grabbed a pearl tea and a chicken snack thing at Quickly, and then I decided to do a minor new thing I've been wanting to do for a while.  If you know downtown at all, you know that La Victoria pretty much rules the roost when it comes to taquerias.  I'll admit that I'll rarely ever go to any other Mexican joint  in the area, even though I know some of their food is far superior.  The reason for this is simple.  La Victoria sells this crazy orange sauce that brilliantly masks all the food's shortcomings and adds an amazing (if extremely difficult to pinpoint) flavor.  Something like cream-based, mildly garlicky salsa.  But not at all like that.  I don't know...it's hard to describe.

Anyway, I kind of have a love/hate relationship with "La Vic" as it's so wittily nicknamed, and I think a lot of people do.  I love them for inventing and spreading so much joy through their orange sauce, but I resent them for taking our collective business for granted and pretty much slinging whatever they want into a foil wrapper and calling it Mexican food.  I swear I am not exaggerating when I say that, a solid majority of the time, the veggie burrito I order arrives containing 10% pinto beans, 15% cheese, and 75% cold lettuce....so much of it that the cheese doesn't even melt.  Why oh why would anybody put up with this and come back again and again?!  I already told you....it's that damned ORANGE sauce.

Anyway, a couple of years ago another taqueria, Taqueria Los Gallos de Villa, opened up just behind La Victoria, and I was really pulling for it to do well...if the food proved to be good anyway.  I noticed, however, that nobody seemed to be going there, while often the line was to the door at La Victoria.  Unfair.  It was making me really mad that people weren't venturing out and giving the new kid on the block a try, until I noticed that I wasn't either.

Until today.

Taqueria Los Gallos de Villa was one of those places I love where there is a helpful picture of each menu item:

And as an incredible suggestion for an impulse buy, you can apparently rent U-Haul trucks there too.  For real...we saw one in the parking lot.

I ordered the veggie torta, which was toasty goodness and which hit the spot.  And in an added plus (when compared to La Victoria), the chips and salsa bar were free, and the chips were fresh, homemade ones as opposed to the stale, out of the giant plastic bag disks they offer at La Vic.

Alas, however, they don't have The Orange, which would have made the torta that much better.  Win-win solution will be to buy a bottle of The Orange next time ($6 well spent) and make the hybrid, San Carlos Street meets 4th street dream team super meal.  Good call!

Now, as for

Today's New Activity: Playing Shadow Tag

...it was borne from a conversation Nicole and I were having in which we talked about how sometimes, getting caught up with all the day-to-day work of taking care of kids, we can miss out on the playing, the act of simply having fun with them.  Nicole was saying that she does, in fact, play with Maya sometimes, but Maya disagreed.  "You' don't play with me.  When did you play with me?"  A question to which Nicole replied "I played shadow tag with you that one time" (which made me laugh because it called to mind an exchange in Modern Family during which Clair is lamenting to her young son Luke that she's no fun and that his dad does all the fun stuff.  Luke doesn't want her to feel bad, so he reassures her with this: "You put that potato chip in my sandwich last week.  That was a crunchy surprise."  "Nope," Clair says, "that was also your Dad.").

I asked them what shadow tag was, and Nicole said it was tag, except you tag people's shadows instead of their bodies.  Well-named game, I'd say.

So on the way back from lunch, we went back through campus and plopped down on a big patch of grass, where the babies were free to do their roaming without the danger of cars passing by, and without anything at all in sight that we'd have to try and keep them from grabbing at.  Why hadn't we found that spot sooner?!

Nicole and I talked for a while, and when Maya got tired of chasing the babies around (and she's so sweet with them, and such a good big sister...it's fun to watch her getting such enjoyment in playing with them, and vice-versa), she reminded us that we'd promised to play shadow tag with her.  The fact that neither of us jumped up to make good on this promise just reinforced for me the idea that dads really are better cut out for (dare I saw pre-programmed for?) fun in a way that moms just aren't.  It's a shame.  I'm not saying every mom is a stick in the mud.  It's just that I don't think we naturally act as silly or as playful or as energetically as dads when it comes to recreation with the kids.  Maybe I should just speak for myself (or for myself and Nicole, since we talked about this and are in agreement), but it feels true.  I can't think of any mom I know who is a fun in the sense of play-like activity as any of the dads I know.

But we did play after all.

So the rules of shadow tag are that you can't "tag back" immediately the person who just tagged you, and you can run to the shade for refuge (since your shadow isn't visible there), but you can only stay there for 10 seconds (which seemed like a long time to me, for the record).

A word to the wise about shadow tag....it's probably best not to play in the late afternoon/early evening, when each shadow is ten feet long and the "it" person needn't be anywhere near the others in order to tag them.  I don't think it's really how the game was meant to be played...me stepping on Maya's shadow from so far behind her she couldn't even hear me.

It's probably also good to play with more than three people, especially when two of them are moms who would rather be talking than running :P  We gave it the old college try though.  And I couldn't help but scream and squeal like a kid when Nicole or Maya was running toward me and I was trying to get away.  Given that we were clearly playing some kind of tag but nobody ever actually touched, the students walking by must have thought we were off our rockers.  Or maybe they *knew * about shadow tag, I don't know.

Chupi and Sureya--already loaded back into their strollers and ready to head home--watched with curiosity and big, happy smiles on their faces as their Mamas crossed back and forth on the grass in front of them, as they'd been doing moments earlier.  It was funny to see them watching our every move for once...quite a role reversal.  I wonder what, if anything, they thought we were doing.

Shadow tag and the walk back to Nicole's were nice finishes to a really, really nice day off.  Not sure I'll be playing the game again any time soon, but I would like to put more effort into being Fun Mama.  I'd like for Monkey to have those kinds of memories of me, too.

1 comment:

  1. I think the kids are blessed to have you, given that you even gave it the Good Old College Try. I have to say, *back in the day,* that neither moms NOR dads were players. I mean, the dad worked and the mom cooked and did the laundry. That was about the extent of it. Kids were supposed to use their imaginations and come up with their own games, and we did: making rocket ships and submarines out of cardboard boxes and climbing onto the roof, by way of the rubber tree, to spy on each other. All good fun, and without a parent anywhere nearby, not even to scream at us to get the hell out of the tree or off the roof. Good times! All about running with scissors, in a way...