August, 2007

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I will bet cold, hard cash

…that I am the only person who has ever had these conversations with an almost-3-year-old. (I’m not saying you haven’t have weirder or funnier ones, mind you, and in fact if you have, I feel strongly that you should post them here in my comments section.)

During a car trip:

W: I conducted my music very badly before.
Me: Oh, you did? Sorry. When was this?
W: This was when I was in my place called Pasadena. And I had a band, and I conducted Double-Decker Bus [one of his original compositions].
Me: That sounds great! Was it fun?
W: Yes! I had trombones, and a sousaphone, and tympani.
Me: Oh, cool! Where was I? At work?
W: You were not there because you were at your very own preschool!
Me: Wow, bummer.

[subject changes for a few minutes, and then]

W: Oh! There were snare drums in my band also!
Me: There were? Who played them?
W: What?
Me: Who was your snare-drum player?
W: [two beats] John Phillip Sousa.

Me: Do you want to watch some videos on the computer?
W: Yes!
Me: How about some Sesame Street?
W: How about Richard Thompson?
Me: Um… Richard Thompson? Really?
Me: Well, OK!

[I will provide the video for those of you who wish to fully experience the rest of the conversation in context.]

W: Why is he wearing a hat?
Me: Probably because it looks good on him?
W: Why is his guitar brown? I thought he had a green guitar.
Me: He does! He has a lot of different guitars!
W: What is this song called?
Me: 1952 Vincent Black Lightning.
W: Whaaaaat?
Me: Would you rather call it Vincent Black Lightning?
W: YES! … What is he talking about?
Me: Well, it’s a story about a guy and his girl and his motorcycle.
W: Ohhhhh.

[long pause]

W: What’s happening now?
Me: Well, uh, he gave his motorcycle to his girl.
W: Why?
Me: [making mental note not to pick song about violent death next time] Because he loves them both a lot.

[The song's pretty much over, so I scroll down to see what other RT videos are available.]

W: Wait! Go back up! I wanna see the picture! Did his little girlfriend come over?

I love that he built in his own plotline, complete with preschool-level suspense.

So what strange behavior is your child exhibiting?

We have to talk about something.

It’s that photograph to your left. See?

Yeah, that one.

I want you to know I would never actually wear that outfit.

I realize my credibility is undercut here by the fact that there is a picture of me wearing it right there – a picture which I myself put up on the Internet.

What happened was – well, first imagine you haven’t slept more than three hours a night for – how old is W. there? – say, 18 months. So your judgment is impaired. Then, let’s just say you had a baby or something, and your clothes didn’t fit, and the only pants retail could offer you that did fit were made by Gloria Vanderbilt, so you have to swallow an enormous amount of your fashion pride just to make the purchase; it’s no surprise that you accidentally swallow a little too much and buy all the colors, even beige, a color you are on the record as categorically opposing.

Then one morning, in a stupor, you throw on the beige pants and a pastelly top and go to the zoo, and your good friend, say her name is Jodi, takes a really cute picture of you and your kid, and pfft! Years of fabulousness down the drain.

(I sleep now, just for the record. I’m much more vigilant now.)

Things that are awesome, chapter one

Are you familiar with jazz vocalist Carol Sloane? She’s quite delightful. Today, while researching jazz weblogs for work (nice work if you can get it), I discovered that she has a blog, and my lord, is it fabulous. She’s not the first blogger I’ve read who uses language in a wonderfully precise manner, nor the first who’s laugh-out-loud funny, but I believe she is the first who can use those qualities to relate stories about, for instance, opening for Lenny Bruce.

I got the new CD by Nerissa and Katryna Nields, Sister Holler the other day. I put it on in the car last night and – well, I should tell you I have a rule. On the first listen to a new album, I don’t allow myself to hit either the Repeat or the Skip buttons. With Repeat, on a good album, I usually have to restrain myself once or twice. On a great album, it can go as high as five or six. Sister Holler? ELEVEN. I am almost certain this has never happened before; well, probably on 69 Love Songs, but that’s hardly a reasonable comparison. (For the uninitiated: It actually contains 69 love songs.) Sister Holler consists of new songs based on existing songs, in the folk tradition – some gospel, some traditional, some pop, some classical, that sort of thing. I will almost certainly post more insightfully about the music later, but I need to completely geek out and research the original songs first. Oh yes, I’m going to full-on obsess about this album. For instance, the cover photo shows Nerissa with her face completely obscured by her hair; I may be able to find evidence that she died in 1964 and was replaced by Paul McCartney.

My, that would be geeky, wouldn’t it?

You may think you don’t want to read a blog entry about a lost teddy bear. You’d be wrong in this case; this is the single best piece of writing I’ve read in recent memory.

And finally, Julie from A Little Pregnant details a common medical procedure using props and Play-Doh. Inspired. Or maybe deranged.

I have to tell you what’s going on down the street

For some weeks now, a couple has been picketing a local car dealer who, they say, “stole $7700 from our family.” I got one of their flyers once; it contained extensive documentation of the guy’s being a big jerk, but no details about the theft. So I can’t really take sides. I’ve bought enough cars not to put anything past a car dealer, but I’ve also worked in sales long enough to know customers are sometimes insane.

Anyway, they’ve been picketing, and occasionally drivers will honk at them to show support. So about a week ago, the dealer started putting people in cheap cartoon-character costumes out on the sidewalk. These characters carry signs with the dealer’s name, and the message “Please honk to say hello.”

The first time I drove by, I thought, hmm, that’s weird. The second time I got it. It’s a honk neutralizer! “Yes, people will honk,” says the evil car dealer, “But is it because they believe you? OR DO THEY JUST LOVE SCOOBY-DOO? You’ll never know!”

This has got to be the most impotent battle of wills I have ever seen. I’m generally conflict-avoidant, but I secretly kind of hopes it escalates. It has the potential to reach shocking new levels of lameness!

I’m a Sweet, Beautiful Pig

We’ve been fairly deeply immersed in the land of multiple identities here at the homestead. W. is turning out to be the Daniel Day-Lewis of toddlers, selecting a role and then not breaking character (or allowing anyone else to do so) for weeks on end. Why, for a full month, we were the stars of Maggie and the Ferocious Beast: I was Maggie, W. was her pig friend Hamilton, and R. was, of course, The Ferocious Beast.

Some dialogue:

“Come here and let Mommy put your shoes on.”
“You’re Maggie!”

“Hey, whatcha doin’, cute boy?”
“I’m a cute PIG.”

All. Day. Long. (Perhaps needless to say, the entry title also comes from this part of the story.) (Less needless to say, I had not called him a sweet, beautiful boy. He may have been saving up adjectives.)

But it really got special when you took into consideration that (a) he was referring to his father as The Beast, and (b) we have to live in the world, which has other people in it. For instance, the helpful lady who worked at the pharmacy and tried to do her part to stomp out toddler lollygagging by telling W. “Sounds like your daddy’s calling you!” He looked up at her, flashed his sweetest smile, and corrected her: “He’s a beast!”

Also, if you happened to be at Santa Monica Beach a few weeks back and saw a frazzled-looking redhead chasing a small blond urchin and hollering, “No, honey! We can’t keep walking! We have to go see the beast!”? There was totally nothing weird going on there.

For a while, he became a wrecking-beam clown. You don’t know what that is, do you? Neither did I, so I asked. A wrecking-beam clown is “a monster you want to stay out of the way of.” His father was also a wrecking-beam clown. Me? I’m “Puppet.”

There’s nothing quite so validating as putting a bottle of dip on the dinner table and having your 2-year-old exclaim, “Salad dressing! Good puppet!”

I intentionally steered him toward Jack’s Big Music Show then (“you can be Jack, and I’ll be Mary, and your dad can be Mel, and Grandma L. can be Laurie Berkner!” How could a kid pass that up?) because it involved less explaining – like, why we would name an innocent child Hamilton and how my husband is not actually a beast. It didn’t take care of the problem of having people think I let my toddler call me by my first name (no! he calls me by OTHER people’s first names!), but I think I’m still ahead.

The fun part is, every time he calls me Mommy is as exciting as the very first time was.

Just a heads-up.

For those of you who don’t know this already, I’ve had a terrible case of tendinitis; it’s slowly improving, but the result is that I have a ton of half-written entries that I never finished and published because the ouch set in.

My intention over the next week or so is to finish them all up – well, the ones that are still worth posting – and get them up here. This may not happen, because my arm could get worse again, but I’m going to try. The reason I tell you this is that I don’t want anyone to suddenly log on to 15 new entries and think I’ve gone on a coke-fueled blogging tear or anything.

Hey, I think I just named a band in that last sentence!

To those of you to whom I owe email – same excuse and proposed solution applies. Sorry! I love you! Please come back!