Saturday, May 24, 2008

"Sometimes a pizza is a pizza. But sometimes, a pizza is more than just a pizza."

Whenever I get down about the fact that the major part of my written opus seen by a public audience consists of articles written on bird cage liner about things like airshows or festivals honoring produce or the same freaking tired musical with references to gossip columnists from the 30s playing at no less than three different local theaters over a single season, I read the grocery store flyer and feel better.

There is a chain of grocery stores, the local version of which I frequent, that offers certain alternatives to most chain grocery stores and that publishes a monthly flyer with descriptions that rival the L.L. Bean catalogue. (I'm going on memory and reputation when I say that of course, since I haven't read an L.L. Bean catalogue, I'm happy to report, in a very long time.) It's like the edible L.L. Bean. If you could eat your polo shirt, this would be the place it was written about.

There is someone whose job it is to write three substantial paragraphs about Pecan Sticky Buns and BBQ Blue Cheese Chicken Wings. There is someone who has chosen a career in which the birthing of phrases like “Something frozen this way comes...” earns them high fives at the water cooler and commendations in the board room. There are people, people like you and me, with families and hobbies, who welcomed a new day, fought the commuter traffic, grabbed a hot mug of joe and sat down to compose “One of our favorite condiments at the moment is our Wasabi Mayonaise. We carried this product for a number of years before discontinuing it to make room for newer items. Wow, was that a mistake!”

I believe the phrase I'm looking for is “But for the grace of god...”

Friday, May 23, 2008


There used to be a game show on in the 80s or 90s maybe, was it on MTV? I dunno. I blank out when it comes to horrible specimens of pop culture around my coming of age. On the show, friends or couples or someone had to answer questions with what they guessed their partner (who was backstage in a sound proof booth – it goes without saying) would say before the partner would bounce onto the stage for a stressful timed replay of the true answers.

The answers were one of two possibilities: Cool or not cool. Generally, contestants would yell out these phrases while the studio audience cheered or groaned. It went something like this: “Skipping underwear with a white sundress.” “Coooool!!!” “Telling your buddy that you saw his girl cheating on him.” ”NOT Cool!”

So I'm sitting in the courtyard with the other parents waiting for my kiddo to come out of preschool. One of the moms turns to tell me, “You know the kids know our cars? They know who rides in each car.”

Her massive grey elephant of a Suburban is parked just on the other side of the gate.

“Yes, I realize that,” I say.

“That's really cool! Isn't that cool?”

Thursday, May 08, 2008

nurturing a nurturing nature

Isaac's closest buddy has a new little sister. Born the day before Isaac's birthday.

A month or so ago her mama brought her into Isaac's preschool class so that everyone could meet her and so his buddy could continue to process this huge new change in his world in another realm of his little life. His mama told me laughing afterwards that the girls all swamped her and the baby, while the boys, including her own and Isaac hung back and looked wholly uninterested. But I knew my guy better than that. I guessed it was more of his impressive ability at observation than his disinterest that kept him at bay that day. I'd have a chance to try out my theory.

Not long after, baby, mama, and friend were visiting us at our place. When the little one would squawk, Isaac would pause in racing from one end of the house to the other with his bud to look at us with an expression similar to what my Zappy cat would give us when Isaac cried as a newborn. It said: “The baby is in distress. What are you people going to DO about it?”

Later, pulling himself away from a game of something called – as close as I could tell – Pour Every Toy in Isaac's Room onto the Floor and then Smash the Closest Car into the Closest Animal while Wearing a Fire Hat and Screaming, Isaac appeared in the living room again where baby was mewing and mamas were chatting. He had with him an old pacifier that was still kicking around his room, despite the fact that he hasn't used one since before he turned one. He offered it up to baby's mama.

“Oh! Thank you, Isaac!” she exclaimed. “For the baby? How sweet!”

She didn't notice that when he retreated that he was still lurking just around the corner within earshot.

“But I don't think I'm going to put it in her mouth,” she finished.

“Why?!” Iz whined, reappearing, his little broken heart on his sleeve.

“Oh, uh, um...”

I stepped in. “Iz, some babies don't use pacifiers when they are so little. Maybe she can use it when she's a little older. And maybe we can make sure it's really clean so it won't have any germs to make her sick.”

Later that night, Mike, Iz and I were in Iz's room and found ourselves absently twiddling with the same pacifier while talking about the day. I informed his dad how kind Isaac had been earlier, trying to offer it to the baby. Dad cooed over the gesture. I hadn't mentioned that the baby didn't use it or what Isaac had overheard, trying just to reinforce the praise for the intention. Isaac, staring intently down at the dark blue nipple said only, “I'm going to get this thing clean. Somehow, I'm going to get it really clean.”

Monday, May 05, 2008

he has his limits

Take One:

Isaac has been creating metaphors left and right as per his poetic usual.
(his bitten toast) "Mama! It's a boat!"
(the stamen of a calla lily flower) "It has a carrot inside!"
(the water filter faucet) "Look, Mama! A letter J!"
(cheerios stuck together in stepped pattern) "It's like stairs!"

Finally, it is almost 6 o'clock and we are both waiting impatiently for Daddy to get home. I lie back on the grass in the front yard.
"Isaac, what do the clouds look like today?"

Take Two:

After a full day of cars talking to each other ("I'm a forklift. I pick up big, heavy things. Watch! Wanna come to my house?") and the wee men Isaac begs me to make with my fingers reading imaginary books to each other and watching rubber whales splash into the ocean (living room rug), and cooking strawberry shortcake soup (granola in a sauce pan on the coffee table), it's bath time.

We go looking for the pieces of Isaac's camping set to join him for bath play. It includes a little plastic man, plastic boy, tent, fire, cot, and dog. Can't find the boy. Mama grows tired of looking and eyes the clock.

"Maybe when you get in your bath, Iz, the man and the dog can talk about where the boy is. Maybe that can be part of their conversation."

My son looks at me, head lowered, eyebrows lifted. "Dogs say like 'woof-woof,' like that, Mama. Dogs can't talk."

"Right, Iz. I forgot. Sorry."

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