There was a hatch tonight


We live a block away from a park. Besides being one of the oldest parks in Seattle, it’s also one of the oddest—built on a hillside, with a tennis court enfolded in light-damping trees in the lower part, and a beautiful view walk on the upper part. The upper part is a popular dog walking and gathering ground. The lower part boasts year round residents, some who pitch tents, but most who find dark corners to sleep in. Last year, the Seattle Police decided to evict the homeless population, and had to serve up eviction notices after the park became unsanitary due to human waste. Did you know they can’t just boot out the homeless population? I didn’t.

Also in the park are two houses. They’re not literally in the park, but they have fences that open to it. In one of those houses is a guy that used to throw a lot of parties, and was involved with the music scene. I don’t know if he still throws parties or if these things just happen in the park without him, but Kinnear Park is very popular with teenagers.

Around four or five times a year, right about 10 p.m. on the nose on completely arbitrary nights (like tonight—a Tuesday in October), a gaggle of loud teens emerges from the park. They get in their cars, blast their stereos, block the streets and generally make a bunch of mayhem. Once they raced motorcycles up the street. Usually the bass is window shaking. Often they stand around in groups, girls with girls, boys with boys acting cool, with that adopted urban air that you hear so much on the streets. I would be surprised if there wasn’t a keg in the park that drew them in like electromagnets on iron ore, and they emerge freshly emboldened from hearty commercial brews.

More often than not they are out there on our street corner for 10-20 minutes, and then they disappear into the wind, or for a more lively party scene then hanging out in front of condos and apartment houses. Christine and I are endlessly amused by this phenomenon, which she christened a hatch, because it is not unlike walking into a flying wall of insects after they have had a hatch—suddenly they are just there.

Tonight there was a minor hatch. Loud bass, small gaggle, lots of backwards baseball caps. They all climbed into cars—one kid sitting in the window as they went down the nighttime street, fist in the air in triumph for all the partying they have done.

Posted by: Martin McClellan
On the date of: October 11, 2005 11:02 PM
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