Rutledge Fun Center was right next to the highway, with a large hedge at the edge of the miniature race track in an effort to block the noise. Families lined up for the water boats, and small children argued with their parents about why they should be able to ride the Giant Screamer. Outside of the arcade, Jeremy chomped on gum and looked around for Trish. He spotted her walking towards him, a bottle in each hand.
“Hi, Jeremy,” she said, handing him a bottle. “I got us some sodas. Let’s play course 2 so we can work our way over to where the loggers are.” The loggers were moving statues that slowly enacted the felling of a tree.
“Thanks, Trish,” he said as he took a bottle and handed her a putter. “I’m glad we could look at this tonight instead of Saturday since I work on Saturdays.” They started walking over to the course.
“Yeah, I have Hebrew school on Saturday, anyway,” said Trish. She dropped her ball and hit it weakly so that it didn’t make it over the berm, and it rolled back to her.
“Wait, you’re Jewish?” said Jeremy as Trish hit the ball again, this time so vigorously that it sailed into the air and hit a structure at Hole 7.
Trish looked forlornly at her ball and turned to answer Jeremy. “Well, sort of. Yes, I guess. It’s a complicated story. See, my Mom is Mexican and my Dad is Dutch.” She went over, picked up her ball, and tossed it near the hole.
“Wait, you’re Mexican?” said Jeremy. “Are you serious?”
“I know I don’t look it since I look a lot more like my Dad. But my first language was Spanish, then English. I don’t know any Dutch except little things you say to a grandmother. My full name is Patricia Princesa Isabela Jansen. Very Catholic. Are you going to hit the ball?” Trish asked.
Jeremy hit the ball and looked up. “So, you’re Catholic, too?” He wondered if that was an inappropriate question. Maybe they shouldn’t discuss religion.
Tricia didn’t seem offended. “We were Catholic, some of us, sort of. See, my Mom is kind of a rebel. She rejected a lot of the Latin culture, because it was so Catholic and favored the men so much. Mom thought it was all about controlling the women. She said she wouldn’t marry a Mexican man and contribute to the patriarchy, so she disobeyed her parent’s wishes and ran off to become a stewardess. Sorry, flight attendant. That’s how she met my Dad. He was a business traveler, and they fell in love and got married.”
Jeremy was trying to keep up. “Is your Dad Catholic, then?”
“No,” said Trish, “His family wasn’t really attached to any one church, so they were kind of on the same page. Then, when my Mom started having kids, my grandmother badgered her and convinced her to at least send us to church and catechism. Which she did.”
“So then how are you Jewish?” asked Jeremy, completely abandoning the golf game.
“Oh, yeah,” said Trish. “Recently my Mom was researching the family history to see if we are descended from King Ferdinand – and don’t ask me why she thinks that, because I don’t know – and she finds out her ancestors were Sephardic Jews. They were forced to publicly convert to Christianity years ago to avoid being killed.”
“Wow,” said Jeremy.
“Tell me about it,” said Trish. “Mom figured this was why she’d always rebelled against Catholicism so much. Her own past had been taken from her. Everything fell into place. The other night at dinner, she declared we were a Jewish family, and enrolled my sisters and me in Hebrew school.”
“Oy,” said Jeremy. “How did that go over?”
Trish laughed. “My youngest sister, Olivia, started crying and asked if that meant we didn’t get to have Christmas any more. My other sister asked why she was forced to go to catechism all those years. My Dad just kept his head down and ate his potatoes.”
“So how long have you been going to Hebrew school?” asked Jeremy.
“Just a couple of weeks, so far,” said Trish. “We’re in with the adults looking to convert, since the actual Jewish kids are way ahead of us in learning Hebrew. I feel totally out of place,” she admitted.
“I know that feeling,” said Jeremy, then immediately regretted it. “So are you okay with the whole thing?”
“Eh,” said Trish, screwing up her face. “I figure you have to pick your battles. I’m just going along with it. I’ll be out on my own soon enough, you know? May as well make my Mom happy right now.”
“That’s a good way to look at things,” said Jeremy.
“Here we are. I’ll putt while you check out the loggers,” said Trish, glancing around. She dropped the ball and took some practice swings while Jeremy hopped over the short fence to the electrical display. She heard the soft click of the camera function on his phone as he took pictures of the mechanics underneath the display. “Okay, I think I got it. I’m heading back over,” came Jeremy’s voice from behind a hedge. Trish turned to put her putter down, in anticipation of jumping the fence to see the mechanics for herself, but instead saw the park maintenance man Darrell marching towards her. “Where is the boy?” he yelled. “I saw him jump the fence. I will call the police if we have any sabotage!”
Trish thought quickly. “He had to pee,” she blurted out. Jeremy came out from behind the hedge and hopped back over the fence to join Trish.
“What are you, an animal?” said Darrel with disgust. “You can’t walk 20 feet to the bathrooms? What’s wrong with you?”
“Sorry,” said Jeremy, his face flushed red. “I, uh….we’re leaving now.”
Darrell pulled out his cell phone and aimed it at Jeremy for a mug shot. “I’m calling the police anyway, you little jerk. Stand still.”
Jeremy ducked his head and took off running toward the exit. Trish was a few seconds behind him and caught up with him as he was unlocking his bike from the parking lot fence. She quickly did the same with hers and they raced off down the residential streets near the park.