Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lone Rhino...Staycation...

      I was picking her up from school and a boy from her class wandered past the front of the car as we were getting in.
      Isobel: "Daddy look at that boy."
      Daddy:" What boy?"
      Isobel: "That boy, the one in my class."
      Daddy: "Oh that helps, thanks Pick."
      Isobel: "For what?"
      Daddy: "For nothing! WHAT boy do you mean. I don't know anyone in your class so your help didn't."
     Isobel: "Oh. I get it. I mean THAT boy, the one in the blue jacket."
     Daddy: "Oh, OK. What about the boy in the blue jacket?"
     Isobel: "He's my large enemy."

      When I played in the band, I traveled alone frequently, in the early days it was nearly every weekend. Buses and taxis and planes, friends cars and the occasional hitchhiked rides when that kind of thing was only a moderately stupid thing to do. The worst you had to worry about was dirty old men making lewd offers...maybe that just happened to me...maybe I just have that kind of face. Anyway, I am home now and my family is not. I traveled without wife and kids for the first time since I came back home.
     It's not to say that I believed myself to be incapable of traveling on my own...I worry more about the fact that I keep spelling traveling with two L's. I am a worrier and a desperately uptight about being late by nature.  Not quite a type A personality...A minus at best.
      But here's the rub, Mrs. Narrator IS a type A personality. A certified, dyed in the wool control freak. All T's will be crossed and all I's dotted. She will drive to the airport and get into a blind rage at the mere thought of being late or getting off at the wrong exit. (For the record, we have a GPS and she still freaks out) Documentation will be at the ready and she will control money, documentation and appropriate conveyance tickets, relinquishing control only long enough for them to be displayed to the proper authorities. The children will be corralled, the luggage will be dragged and the husband will be screamed at and remain silent until all asses are securely in seats on the plane. Anyone that knows Mrs. Narrator and/or her family, knows this is an exaggeration...but only a slight one.
      So there I am, traveling alone. There are no kids to look for or look out for, no luggage but my own and even before the madness began in Denver, I had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. A dreadful feeling that something was dreadfully wrong and there was. I had no one telling me what to do or when to do it or sending me to fetch snacks or wayward fathers. I broke out in a cold sweat. 'This is stupid.' I thought but no matter what I tried to do, read, eat or get a beer, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was was inches away from being hollered at for doing something stupid and it was causing me to second guess everything I was doing. It was like Stockholm syndrome for the married set.
      Despite the fear and self loathing, I did come to a realization. When you travel alone, more to the point when you travel without young kids, you notice a lot more things. For example The departure side of the airport in Puerto Vallarta is entirely manned by people under the age of thirty. I did not see one single face that contained a wrinkle or one head that exhibited a grey hair. Without the kids to chase around, I could reflect on the fact that I never have seen these things.
      I have also noticed that there are a great number of lesbians working airport security and the all have the same haircut. I have nothing against lesbians. I don't really have anything against anybody except the acceptable and universally reviled. (Nazis, people who are cruel to animals or children and people who burn toast and act as though it is perfectly acceptable as something to eat with just a bit more jam)  That being said, I had a few questions and my sisters in law, both proud daughters of Sappho, are my go to people in these matters. The consensus was that there is a lesbian haircut, it appears to be international and they don't get it either.
      But I did manage to get on the plane and again, it's amazing what you notice when you aren't trying to keep kids occupied. Not that I actually do any of the occupying, the kids never want to sit with me BUT I do have conversations and I am appraised of the children's situations on a regular basis. It's a little bit like occupying them...OK, it's nothing like occupying them but nonetheless I did notice things I don't think I would have otherwise.
      The flight attendants that work for United Airlines scare the shit out of me. The one that was attending to my section did anyway. She had blond hair and too much plastic surgery. Something like a cross between the Joker and Howard the Duck with King Tut's mother in law's hands. She didn't stroll the aisles so much as she shuffled up them, leaving bits of sand trailing behind her. I didn't want to look at her but was compelled. I was like a moth to flame until she lifted her head and shot a dessicated look my way. I buried my face in the Sky Mall magazine for fear that she might actually come over and talk to me with her killer bee stung lips flapping wildly as she asked if I wanted a beverage or perhaps a prepackaged snack or maybe to have my brain pulled out through one of my nostrils.
      Soon it was farewell to Pharaoh's wife and hello Denver. More full on dread and flop sweat panic, more running, more lesbian security guards and naked body scanners. Twenty more years and I get to keep my shoes on when I go through, ho ho! Flat out running to a gate that was one train and two buildings away to get to a gate with a delayed plane that got me home pretty damned eventually. To the waiting arms(or SUV as was the case) of two very patient non-haircut, slightly tired but none the less happy and absolutely lovely and saviour like lesbian sisters in law.
      What have we learned from all of this? That a man's ability to fend for himself declines exponentially with the number of years he has been married. I figure by our tin anniversary, I won't be allowed to cross the street unless someone is holding my hand.
      It was suggested that since I had the house all to myself for a whole week, it would be like a vacation at home...a STAYCATION. I had plans. Lots of piping practice and video games and finishing up all that homework, maybe a little studying. Somewhere along the line, I became a grown up. I think it might have been over California. I can't seem to get my mind on the things I want to do versus the things I think I should do. There is laundry and groceries and studying and all the things that really suck about being the only one home. I mean I wouldn't want to come home to a pile of dirty clothes or a messy house or empty fridge...This getting old crap really is a young man's game, it's wearing me out. Alone here in the kitchen, I feel there's something missing. Hell I might even miss Mrs. Narrator... Well at least I have the lovely weather here to keep me distracted...

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Good times and Bad in The Mexico House...The Candy? Even in the Candy?...

   We were sitting  on the beach, as is our want these days and Izzy was sitting with her Opa and having at the snack bag.
      Opa: "Izzy, can I have some of your chocolate bar?"
      Izzy: "It's all gone."
      Opa: "Whaaaat, you ate it all? before you gave me some?"
      Izzy: "Sometimes I eat like a pig, you know."
      Opa: "What, like a pig? Really?"
      Izzy: "Yep. I look pretty but I don't always eat pretty."

      It is February and it is cold at home and we are in Mexico seeking the respite of the sun and the warmth of family and the sting of the new age Margarita. There are few...almost no other things that cement us a family unit like a trip to the Mexico house. I think because there is such a familiarity here. Such a sense of sameness and predictability.
    For example, Mrs. Narrator will always fret and strut and flitter about while getting all of us ready, completely convinced that she has forgotten something. Knowing full well that she has not. At some point she will explode in frustration, usually in a panic over directions to the airport and always at me. It always happens. If it didn't I might actually worry that something was wrong. For my part, I will keep my head down and carry the luggage. Nobody wants a vacation where Dad does the packing.
      But we got here, in spite of the worst depressurization I have felt since I was a kid. There was food waiting for us and Wi-Fi and strong drink and the warmth that only grandparents can provide. We settled in, as we always do. We do not own it but it very much ours, it is the Mexico house. 
      There is something different this year, several different things. We are traveling with two very different children, The Boy is nearly a teen  and Isobel is both whiny and apathetic...is that a girl thing? Is that normal for her age? I feel like it isn't..or at least it shouldn't be. At any rate we're here Secondly, I am here for one week rather than the traditional fortnight visit. I am trying not to think about it but it's hanging over me like a kind of dark cloud. It will be hard to leave, even harder  I think on Izzy, seeing me go...And I think I've found it all of a sudden whilst trying to find the point of this weeks column...
      All the other times we have come to the Mexico house, the kids have needed me...us for everything. "Mummy take  me to the pool, Daddy, I want lunch from the snack bar. Daddy can we go to the souvenir village, Mummy can we go into town tonight?" But there has been very little of that this trip.
      The kids are getting older, more independent. Exploring more and needing us less. I envy people who had their children (planned or  not) at a younger age. Never looked into the face of their children and saw their own mortality. OK maybe that is a little maudlin, I mean I'm not Steve Martin or anything. Having my first child at 67 knowing full well I will never see that child grow up. Parents are supposed to die before their children yes, but before their 20th birthday?
      Wait now, I am wandering away from the point here...was there a point? Kinda and kinda not. That's the Mexico house. Manana....It can wait til tomorrow.
     The times are good here but they never get to last...I don't want it to seem as though we are sad and downtrodden, we are not. We are warm and happy and sun burnt (so much so that a certain little girl had to get aloe vera in the middle of the night) and all the other things that we should be at the Mexico house. Isobel can touch bottom in the grown-up pool, The Boy is making jokes about me being drunk on New Age Margaritas and I am totally OK with that. (in fact I laughed my ass of at one of the jokes so- good on The Boy) and Mrs. Narrator isn't shouting...we're all growing up, whether we realize it or not...viva The Mexico House

      My kid is just that...my kid and as such, she has a sweet tooth. As it turns out it is also an international sweet tooth. As such she thought it a great idea to great candy from a Walmart in the middle of Mexico. OK, I have to side with her on this one. It is candy and it is Walmart. Two institutions that you have to take for granted as far as being safe for consumption, even n Ol'Mexico...not so.
     She came home from grocery shopping with the Mexican Walmart equivalent of a 'Juicy Drop Pop' Lick 'em Sticks is what I think they called them in the days when dinosaurs roamed fee and Mrs.Narrator and I were young. At any rate it was labelled watermelon.
     "Daddy, can you open this for me?" she asked.
     "Sure,Pick." I said."
     I used a knife to peel back the plastic and pulled out the lick 'em stick. I figured I'd give it a bit of a sniff to investigate the Mexican take on watermelon.
     OK, so you know that smell when you throw up after the ninth post spaghetti dinner beer?
     Izzy stuck the lick 'em stick deep into the crimson powder and took a gigantic lick. The look on her face said it tasted as bad as it smelled.
    "Well?" I asked."
     "Mexico should stick to ham and leave the candy to us." she said.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Mad Tunesmith...No Matter How Tough You are...

      Mrs. Narrator brought home some red Twizzlers. I won't generally eat them unless there are no other sweets in the house but the kids like them
      Daddy: "Here Izzy."
      Izzy: "What?"
      Daddy: "Here, do you want this?"
      Izzy: "What is it?"
      Daddy: "Pink dog crap. It's red licorice, do you want it or not?"
      Izzy: "Oh, no thanks. I don't like those."
      Daddy: "You don't like red licorice?"
      Izzy: "Not really, no."
      Daddy: "OK, I'll give it to your brother."
      Izzy: "One wouldn't kill me, though."

          I am so glad that my progeny is becoming just that, my progeny. I remember making up many songs as a kid. Hell, I still do it. In Bee Eater we always knew a song was going to be popular by how quickly we could make up new lyrics for it. I am glad that Isobel has the ability and shows no signs of stopping.
     I thought of providing a translation for this little ditty but sometimes it's just better for songs to remain in their original form, unaltered and relatively undamaged by dodgy interpretations. So the listener (or reader in this case) can glean whatever meaning they choose from it.  So here then, is Isobel's latest soul stirring masterpiece

all I want to know is can you come a lid bit cloosr.
hercoms the breret befor
we eet a lit bit
closre he coms the
her coms the rolsh
befor we tolch
comat lid te bid
the doors are open
the wind is relly blowine
the niet sky in
ocaeine over then
it's not just eot
Fisicl I won't tock for
macke it all so criticlill
So let's malcke thies
Fisael I won't tret you
Like yourr all so tibicl
a a oi a a oi oi
    I'm telling you, the kid is going places. Mark my words, if Isobel can finally figure out spelling and that writing somebody else's songs is marginally illegal, she is going to the toppermost of the poppermost (shameless Beatles plagiarism)

Isobel has been on a big zombie kick for the last little while. Really since Halloween, since her success as a zombie cheerleader. For the past couple of weeks though, she has really been zombie crazy...and I love it. We are connecting on a Father-Daughter level that extends far beyond the reaches of normal coolness. If she starts to like the Marx Brothers I may plotz...bagpipes and her liking them might be pushing the boundaries a tad.
    So I was told about an app that will turn a photo of you into an flesh eating, moaning, undead sumbitch. Naturally I told Izzy about. Naturally she went crazy for it. She brought home a zombie book from school and was disappointed that it didn't have enough pictures of zombies like on T.V.  and the movies. 
      "It's all guys in white paint and drawings, there's no cool make up." she said.
       "Those are real voodoo zombies." I said.
       "Those are all real boring." she replied.
    I had a look at the book, it was pretty boring stuff. Who gives a damn about how zombies are made using the dessicated remains of a puffer fish? Not Izzy. Not when there are real make-up zombies all over the world eating and tearing flesh and happily munching away on their own next door neighbours. 
     I had hoped to find a calmed down version of a zombie film for her but Fido just wasn't her speed. She isn't quite ready for Zombieland just yet. I got the Walking Dead compendium comic for Krimble and figured that might hold her off for a while.
      "Are you sure she should be reading this?" asked Mrs. Narrator.
      "There's nothing really bad in it." I said.
      "Except the F bomb on the first page she turned to."
      'Goddamn,' I thought. 'That's right she can read now.'
      "Tell her to just look at the pictures." I said trying desperately to remember whether there was nudity in the book or not.
     She got bored of that quickly too and went back to the zombie app.
     Bedtime came and off she went to draw pictures of zombies. She had been upstairs for twenty minutes or so when I heard her get out of bed and bolt toward the stairs. She came down to me, nearly in hysterics.
     "What's the matter?" I asked.
     I couldn't make out the rest.
      "What's the matter?"
       "There's a spider in my bed!" she said and burst into full on soggy tears.
      After a little searching the offending spider was sent toward lake Ontario on a toilet paper raft and many hugs and kisses were given to calm nerves and assuage tears. There were a lot of things, Fathery type things, that I could have said to her about spiders being harmless but I didn't think it would matter too much. I also thought about telling her that if she became a zombie, she would probably be covered in spiders and hoards of other bugs...but sometimes you just need to keep your mouth shut and wipe away the tears.   

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Sometimes This Thing Writes Itself...Dem Old Regression Blues...

      Izzy's been having more than a few headaches lately. Mrs. Narrator booked her an appointment with the doctor and today was the day.
      Daddy: "So how was the Dr?"
      Isobel :"Good. She said I was OK."
      Daddy: "She doesn't know you too well then, does she?"
      Isobel: "Ummm...I don't know. I think I saw her before."
      Daddy: "Never mind.What happened at the Dr?"
      Isobel: "She checked me out and said everything was OK."
      Daddy: "Well, that's good news."
      Isobel: "Yep and then I got a needle in both arms."
      Daddy: "Oh yeah?"
     Isobel: "And I had to pee in a cup!"
     Daddy: "I hope nobody was drinking out of it."
     Isobel: "Nope, Mummy was holding it."

      I often fear that I will run out of things to write in this column or that it will become stale or repetitive. I mean OK, the subject matter is limited to within its own structure but my biggest worry is that it might become boring and all of you will wander away. I am almost always presented with the genuineness and genuine weirdness that is my child at these times...
      She came home with another paper made school project. Not quite as interesting looking as a Christmas WTF but just as funny. It is a face, more or less, and from the length of the hair I can only assume it is my daughter. Now atop this glowing pink face is a lovely red triangle (Maybe a hat or some type of accoutrement of an Eldritch horror...in bright red lipstick) Now festooned to the Eldritch headdress is a white placard of sorts. And it reads;
     "My New Yers Rrevolo is eoine elow in the daerk Bolline with my fomaley. And keeping my Room"
      Now, unfamiliar as I may be with nameless unimaginable Eldritch things I can only hazard a guess that for New Year, Isobel is hoping for some type of activity involving basic seamanship and her friend Eoin...and keeping her room of course, even the unnameable ones insist on neatening up one's area.
    It goes on to say that "My ReslaNooshin For scool is: to not tack gut Lode wen the techer is tackine."
     I can't be certain what types of things are being taught at Ayr Public but at bed time tonight Isobel asked, after choosing her clothes for tomorrow of course, if I might stay with her a moment and cast a thought toward the Malevolent Elder gods of Unspeakable, Relentless horror from the Depths of the Void Betwixt the Stars...so it's to be no cheese before bed from now on.
      We will be heading south soon and, as you all know, Izzy is losing her mind to get there. I think The Boy is trying to figure out how he can get the computer from our living room to the living room of the Mexico house. Izzy has been more productive, however. Not only has she packed a suitcase full of clothing she hasn't worn in two years, she has made a list of all the important things she needs to take. Here is the abridged list; (and the translation as near as I can figure.)
Core On (Carry on)

Hedfons (Head phones)                                               IPad (We do not own an IPad but thumbs upfor wishful thinking)
IPone (In The Boy's world, this means something entirely different)
Teen and Sara ( Is there someone else coming on vacation with us?)
Neke Pillows becho (I am open to suggestions)
Priels (I think this is a Gaelic word)
ernele/izzy (My daughter and her secret identity...musn't forget to pack either of them)
Loptop (She has been watching a lot of movies about Elizabeth the first)
Pospors( I think this has something to do with make-up)
Glazz izz ( If you say this with a Glaswegian accent, you'll get it)
coiring/book (Must be for the pool)
Croons (well...ummm)
Doolrv7t (Vacation WTF)
Cho izzys chopsik ( I guess we're getting take out)
Mrs. Narrator (read  Empress of list making) apparently is not readying things quickly enough and Isobel has made a list for the parent as well;

Brush ( a brush)
Cumb ( Not a brush)
Shampoo/cadshint (The second word is a little too close to 'cat shit' for my liking and will be going in Mrs. Narrator's suitcase.)
Levin canis niners pra (for Passover... or the super bowl, whichever comes first)
Broldricale/cluus (just rolls off the tongue, no?)
Toothpast/toothbreerash ( for dental hygiene in another dimension)
7hovin crem (crem for hovin your 7 I should think that one was pretty obvious)
Bolware ( I would describe this but modesty prevents me)
Bode loshn (OK, this is an easy one)
Olof voq (for Viking night)
cumr/erer (I haven't the slightest fucking idea but there were three of them so I didn't dare leave them off.
   In the event that Isobel somehow manages to get these lists actually packed, please send all donations to the Zawada-Baker family Vacation Rescue Fund...OLE!

      I suppose we all regress from time to time, stepping back to the storied past and clinging  to warm and fresh clean linen smelling security. I think kids go through it a lot. I can remember The Boy going through it with a degree of regularity. May have been the nature of the ADD or may have just been his way of growing up, or both. At any rate, Izzy seems to be well on her way back down the emotional ladder this week.
     I think it began a couple of weeks ago when the threat of a freakish winter thunderstorm was being broadcast on the T.V. every half hour or so. It's not to say that she afraid of thunderstorms, she is not but maybe the possibility of one happening in the dead of winter spun her head a little. That night she wanted to sleep with us and did. For several nights thereafter...in fact, most nights thereafter, she has either demanded, begged, whined, cried, or pissed and moaned to sleep in our bed. Most nights she did. And nobody but her got to sleep. Now I don't have a great deal of problem with her sleeping in our bed, it's kind of the parenty thing to do. But it's not that she is sleeping with us out of fear anymore, it's that is is becoming a routine. And for that, she is very much her father's daughter. A lover of routine. To my absolute dismay however, she is also very much her mother's child...a sleep farter. Say good night Gracie.