Showing posts with label Seen Around. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seen Around. Show all posts

Monday, March 25, 2013

I AM Motherf***in' Civilized!

A fellow employee at the arena, after hearing me recount my story, told me, "You have to blog that!" Which reminded me that I have a blog and that I haven't touched it in, what, 2 months or more? So I thought this might be my entry back in to blogging. I like blogging. I do. I should do it more.

I worked a basketball game tonight, an exciting game whose result came down to the last minute of play. With about two minutes left in the game, a super fan, with his hair painted in the colors of his favored team, abandoned his seat and stood on the landing. We, as ushers, are required by the Fire Marshal to keep landings clear in case of evacuation, plus he was blocking the view of the dozens of fans behind him, so I dashed out to him, trying to stay low, and said, "Sir, you can't stay on the landing. Would you please return to your seat?"

"Yes," he said, and continued to stand there.

"We're required to keep the landings clear in case of evacuation," I said, "and the Fire Marshal is sitting right over there."

"Yeah, OK," he said, and continued to stand there.

"Seriously," I said, "You can't stand here. You have to go out onto the concourse or go back to your seat."

"Seriously!" he snapped. "Are you going to kick me out in the last two minutes?" But he went back up the stairs to his seat.

A moment later, he came down and sat in an empty seat further down. Then he stood in front of the seat. Then the patron sitting next to him, a man in his sixties or seventies, asked him to sit down so that the fans behind him could see. I couldn't hear what the super fan said, but the older patron quickly came down and exited, saying to me as he went by, "That guy's nuts. Really. He's completely nuts."

Next, with the game clock down now to about a minute left, another patron came down and informed me, "That guy told the guy that left that he'd motherf***in' kill him. I thought you should know. He's kind of out there."

"Oh," I thought. "That's why he left and called the guy nuts."

A few seconds later, the super fan came down, staring hard at me all the way, his brightly colored hair standing straight up. In the last minutes of the game, fans often accumulate in the portals (the doorways between the concourse and the seating area) torn between the urge to beat everyone else out the door to avoid the traffic snafus and the urge to see the end of the game. Two other fans were standing next to me, watching the last minute. The super fan stopped across from me in the portal, still glaring.

I said, "Did you really tell that guy that you were going to kill him?"

"Uh, no." He seemed a little taken aback. "I told him if he had a problem with me, I'd see him outside. He saw my kid slip on the stairs and said, 'Must be in the gene pool.' He's going to say that s*** in front of my kid, I'm going to take him outside! And you! You are so motherf***in' white!"

"Wow," I thought. "He, in his late twenties or early thirties, is going to call out a man in his sixties or seventies to have a fistfight in the parking lot?" But of course I didn't say that.

Instead, thinking of him blocking the sight lines of the other fans, I said, "Sir, I was just asking you to act like a civilized human being."

He exploded. "I am motherf***in' civilized! I am so f***in' civilized! My f***in' girlfriend has all of it on video! She has you on video! She has that other guy on video!"

After a few moments of uncomfortable eye contact between us, he thankfully stormed off onto the concourse. The two fans standing next to me both looked at me shaking their heads. One of them said, "The stuff you guys have to put up with."

So yes, I repeated this story a few times to co-workers tonight. "I knew I was white. I just didn't know that I was mother***in' white!" But my favorite facts were:

1) My fellow arena employee, on hearing the tale, wrote "I AM mother***in' civilized!" on a post-it note and declared it would be her new catch phrase.

2) The nut who accused me of being "so motherf***in' white!" was also white, and the two patrons who commiserated with me about "the stuff you guys have to put up with" were both black.

Some might take this as a tale of how awful the general public is. I instead choose to take it as an example of one end of the bell curve, evidence of how many people who come through our doors, and there are thousands after thousands after thousands, who do not behave like people who are biologically incapable of living successfully among other human beings. Wheee! This is why I love working the arena!

Friday, August 19, 2011

What We Do

Thumper and I went to the Circus today. It's a whole different perspective experiencing it as an audience member instead of chatting with the workers behind the scenes. It was the 140th showing of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, and what struck me most was how little the show has changed over the years. What has changed, at least since last year, is how much it engaged Thumper.

From the beginning of the "All-Access Pre-Show" where audience members can go down onto the arena floor and get close some of the acts, his head was on a swivel, yelling, "Woah!" and "Wow!" and "Did you see that?" He loved a clown act where we on one side of the ring were to cheer for one clown and those on the other side were to cheer for the other as they engaged in a silly race and other shenanigans. He especially loved that we were supposed to boo the other guy, too. And the old gag where the bucket of water turns out to somehow, magically, be full of confetti rather than water? Stunning! He even picked up a piece of the confetti and examined it for awhile, I suppose to see if he could figure out how it changed to paper from water.

His favorite parts were, of course, the snow cone (in the souvenir cup: $12) and the toy (plastic cannon that shoots a rubber man about 3 feet: $14) and the popcorn (no souvenirs: only $3), but he also was truly amazed by each of the acts, including acrobats and high-wire acts and a strong man ("Dad, can you lift weights like THAT??") and a guy who walked on fire and jumped up and down on broken glass ("OUCH!!"). He yelled, "Look, real tigers!" when the tiger tamer came out, but he quickly lost interest in it, and who can blame him? It was slow, and interminable, with the tamer mumbling in some foreign language while tigers did tricks that didn't look very impressive to a 4-year-old, who perhaps didn't quite understand the premise of a tiger taming act. And when you do understand the premise, it's just kind of sad and shabby and mean: "Look how I can make these once terrifying and ferocious killers do small, petty, and degrading tricks!"

Anyway, he made it almost through the entire 1-hour first act before deciding he was done, which is about 50 minutes longer than last year. And when you consider the 90 minutes of pre-show activities, that's really more like two and a half hours, which is pretty good for a 4-year-old.

I was smart enough to bring his toothbrush, toothpaste, and pajamas, anticipating that he would zonk out in the car on the way home, which he did. When I told him we were going to brush his teeth, he said, "No, that's silly! You're just kidding!" When I put the paste on the brush and told him to open, he anxiously said, "But there's no where to spit!" When I told him to lean way out of the car and spit on the street, he did it, but he said, "This is just crazy!"

My favorite part, though, was walking back to our car, when we chased each other's shadows, trying to step on them. Earlier, when we were in line for popcorn, he wandered away to chat with a couple other kids about their toy selections, so I grabbed his shoulder and pulled him back, explaining that he had to stick by me because there were so many people, he could easily get lost. When we were walking to the car he said, "You know, if I got lost, I'd be really, really upset if I couldn't see you." I replied, "I'd be really upset, too, but I won't let that happen. You don't have to worry." "Yeah," he said, "but if you and Mama both got lost, we'd never find our way home." I answered, "But we know where we live, right? No problem!" "Yeah," he said, "No problem. When we get into trouble, we get out again, right? That's just what we do."

Yeah, little man, that's what we do. God, I love that kid. I really needed tonight to help me remember that.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

SAHD Conversation

He: What happened to your thumbs?

Me: I volunteered at the Housing Authority. I spent three hours on Monday raking and bagging leaves. I lost a little skin on the deal.

He: Why didn't you just use a leaf blower?

Me: I don't have a leaf blower.

He: What did you use?

Me: A rake.

He: Well, what do you use at your house?

Me: A rake.

He: ...

Me: We don't all have multi-acre spreads, you know.

He: I don't have multi-acres. "Multi" means double digits. I've only got 5 acres.

Me: I don't even have one acre.

He: Well, next time, let me know. You can borrow mine. It's gas, very powerful.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

At the Four-Year-Old's Birthday Party

"Did you bring me a present?"

"Yes."

"Where is it?"

"On the table."

"Where on the table?"

"Right there."

"I'm Spiderman!"

Monday, March 2, 2009

Not Progressing

Since I stopped counting Weight Watchers flex points, many months ago now, my weight loss has stalled. My enthusiasm for working out has cooled. And my caloric intake from alcoholic beverages has not gone down. So, here are some new goals:

No drinking Monday through Thursday.

Workout based on performance goals rather than time goals. If my goal is to work out for 45 minutes 4 days a week, it's too easy to jog for a bit and then walk the rest of the time. So goals based on average speed, I guess? I'll have to figure this one out. This may require some mathematics.

Wow. That was a lot shorter of a post than I thought it would be. Hmm. Oh, one of the guys at the SAHD playdate had a gender observation. I thought SAHD'ing would be fraught with sociological ponderings, but it just ain't. So I best take advantage of them when I can:

So we're hanging out at the playground, standing around talking while trying to keep our and others' kids from taking a swing shot to the head, when one of the dads says, "See, if that was a guy..."

He gestures, and we all look up. There's an SUV parked at the edge of the parking lot that overlooks the playground. Its engine is running. The driver is alone in the truck and appears to be watching the kids play. The driver is a woman.

"If we were moms and that was a guy, the police would already be here."

Aha! An opening for a thoughtful discussion on the implications of the perceived level of threat of a man versus that of a woman engaged in identical behaviors? Perhaps an exploration of the relative levels of cooperative action among groups of women versus groups of men? An opportunity to compare anecdotes of gender bias we've each experienced in our own lives?

No, not really. We just kind of glance at her for a second, and then we keep talking about Vegas. We're guys. That's what we do.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

You're a Mean One, Mr. Grinch

I scared a child, and it made me walk around the rest of the night with a dopey grin on my face. I like scaring children.

A group of five kids, ages ranging from probably 8 to probably 12, were sitting close to courtside without apparent adult accompaniment. All five were standing in the aisle as close to the court as they could get. And they weren't moving on. We give you the benefit of the doubt. We let you have a minute. You set up camp, though, and action must be taken!

So I walked down and asked them to return to their seats. They did. As soon as I walked back up, they were in the aisle again. I walked down and told them to return to their seats. They did. As soon as I walked back up, they were in the aisle again. I walked down and told them to return to their seats. They did.

By the time I walked back up, another usher had come over from another position to work that section. I told him about the kids, and as I was pointing them out to him (his eyesight wasn't that great), the oldest kid turned and looked up at me. She saw me pointing at them and discussing them with the other usher. He still wasn't sure who I was talking about, so I smiled and waved at her, and she tentatively waved back.

"There, you see her waving? That's them. Just keep an eye on them. They've been standing in the aisle."

The next time her younger siblings jumped up into the aisle, she wrangled them back into their seats. Then she ran up the stairs to where the other usher and I were standing and said, "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry."

"That's OK," I said.

"About before. When we were standing."

"You don't have to apologize."

"It's my brothers. I won't let them do it again."

"We just need to keep the aisles clear."

"OK, we will."

"Thanks!"

And for the rest of the half, she always knew exactly where I was. She kept an eye on me. And on her brothers. I moved from section to section, trying to look like I was supervising. But whenever I looked back in their direction, she had her eye on me. And whenever her brothers jumped up to dance in the aisles during timeouts trying to get the cameraman to put them on the scoreboard video screen, she always had them sitting nicely in their seats by the time the action resumed.

She was waiting for me to bring the hammer down.

And it made me glad.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Tales From the Playground: The Spiders Will Get You!

[A man in his late twenties, in sunglasses, a sweater, slacks, and dress shoes, with a coffee in one hand. A girl, about four.]

You want to swing? No, you can do it. Remember? Hold on to the chains and pull yourself up. You got it! Oh, are you OK? That's why they put the soft gravel there, so when people fall. Oh, you're OK. It's soft gravel. Get up and try again. Try again, but this time remember to hold on. There you go! No, you're too far back. Slide forward a little bit. A little bit more. Not that much.

OK, remember how we talked about pumping? Back and forward. Back and forward. OK, I'll push you to get you started, but you've got to do it yourself. Back and forward. Back and forward. You're not doing it soon enough. A little sooner. Back now. Now forward. Back. Forward. You've got to do it sooner. You're sitting too far back. Slide forward. A little more. Now lean back. And swing your legs. Back. Forward. A little sooner.

OK, I'll push you higher. OK, come on now; now you're acting. It's not that high. Stop screaming. It's not that high. You're way overreacting. Why are you so afraid? It's not that high. All right, all right. Here. Is that better? Oh, you're just going to stop? Remember, keep trying. Don't give up. Come on now. Get up. You better get up. There's spiders. Tiny spiders live in the gravel. They'll bite you; you better get up.

Oh, now where are you going? Remember? Keep trying; don't give up!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Tales from the Playground: Trapped!

Thumper and I had coupons for free food at the brand new Chick-fil-A.

(Aside A: Huh. Am I crazy, or didn't it used to be Chik-fil-A? When did they put the extra C in? Was the mispelling of Chick an affront to God, but the mispelling of filet stands? And did you know Chick-fil-A is all religious and whatnot? The things you learn by searching the nutty, nutty internets.)

Anyway, we had coupons. They were mailed to us. We even got two sets of coupons in our mailbox, and if you think I'm going to walk six houses down to return their coupons to them, you're crazy.

So we went to the new Chick-fil-A today. And so did everyone else. It was a madhouse. The drive-thru (Thru!) line was a mile long, and the dining room was packed. If I hadn't felt so rushed, I might have read the menu a little closer and realized I could have substituted sides, which sort of takes the wind out of this rant, a little bit:

(Aside B: I had a "Spicy Chicken Cool Wrap Meal." I did not add the dressing they cheerfully offered me. I'm assuming the meal comes with "Medium" Waffle Potato Fries, which, by the helpful calculator on their website means that I had 780 calories and 33 grams of fat. Good Lord! Thumper had a 4-Piece Chicken Nuggets and presumably small Waffle Potato Fries, or 410 calories and 22 grams of fat. Yeesh! Good thing he's a pain in the ass about lunch lately and didn't eat it all. He ain't so keen on fries. And he flat-out refused fries with ketchup on them. Smart kid. I mean, seriously, fried brown lumps of chicken and fried brown lumps of potato? That's what's generally considered an acceptable meal for kids? I gave him bits of lettuce, tomato, and cabbage out of my wrap. While we were eating, I perused the menu again, and I saw that I could have substituted sides "for additional cost." I saw the Cole Slaw (370 calories and 32 grams of fat!) and the Fruit Cup (70 calories, no fat), but I didn't see Carrot & Raisin Salad (260 calories and 12 grams of fat) or Side Salad. Maybe they were there, and I just missed them.)

(Aside C: Did you know those stupid cows painting mispelled billboards have been around for 13 years now? What is it with this company and poor spelling?)

Anyway, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah. We ate, and then we entered the playscape for some post-lunchin' fun. Hopefully the little snot machine isn't contagious anymore. I mean, it's been almost a full week now, and he doesn't have a fever anymore. That's the key, right? Fever? No fever, no contagion? Or something? Well, whatever. Maybe we spread the contagion, but we had to get out of the house. And there's one certain child that I wouldn't mind so much if we infected. See if you can figure out which one it is!

So he played on the ground level for awhile, but with the several hundred (or maybe dozen or so) other kids running and climbing and sliding, he finally decided to check out the upper floor. So up he climbed. And he crawled through the tubes. And he sat in the race car and spun the wheel. And then he said, "Daddy? Daddy?" And then he started to cry.

I could see him through one of the plexiglass windows, so I got his attention so he could see me. That didn't help. "Down!" he sobbed. And I thought, "Crap. The fat man's going to have to climb up there and get him." And so I did.

Thank you, whoever builds those playscapes for Chick-fil-A, for engineering them well enough to withstand the weight of a dozen little kids and one fat man. Loathe to put my weight on the hanging tubes, I climbed up and poked my head in and called to him. He kept sobbing, but didn't poke his head out of the next tube, where I knew he was, about six feet down the line. There were three three-to-four-year-old girls standing at the next junction, right outside his tube, looking at me like I had three heads.

"Would you help him come out so he can see me?" I asked. They stared at me. "Please?" I added. "The baby, who's crying right there? Would you help him out, please?" They stared at me. And so I thought, "Crap, the fat man's going to have to put his weight out there in these hanging tubes and hope for the best." And so I did.

And crawling down there, I discovered what the real problem was. A four-or-five-year-old boy in an Indiana Jones costume was laying in the entrance to the tunnel. Completely filling it. To be fair, he wasn't carrying the whip and machete, but still. Thumper was just on the other side of him, still sobbing. He couldn't get out because Indy wouldn't get the hell out of the way.

"Would you move please, so he can get out?" I asked. He just looked at me. "Would you move out of the way, please?" Nothing. "You," I said, and pointed right at him. He seemed to wake up. "Move." And so he did.

So I grabbed the boy and tried to reassure him as I huffed and puffed and grunted my way backwards through the tunnels and back down the steps, trying not to crush any of the small children who continued to tear through the tunnels at top speed as if I weren't even there. Thumper calmed down almost as soon as I touched him.

So, lesson learned:

A strange adult out of context will make small children freeze like they've seen the basilisk.

Related corrolary:

Asking four-year-olds for help in a crisis is folly of the highest order.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

I Think I've Been Blessed

Leaving the Greater Stadium Area after working football, even though my legs and feet were sore and tired, I was in a particularly good mood for a couple of reasons. First, at the height of load-in, at the busiest moment when all the folks were coming in my gate, one of my bosses stood beside me and asked, "Does it always go this smoothly?" Why yes. Yes it does. Second, we were out of there with daylight still left instead of at 10 or 11 at night like the last two games, and I knew that both of my loves would still be awake when I got home.

As I approached my car, feeling beneficent toward the world, a presumably Crazy Homeless Man stood on the corner. He pointed with vehemence, with his entire arm, his entire body, at each car and pedestrian passerby. Then he put his palms together in front of his face and bowed. The he pointed with vehemence at the next passerby, and bowed again. He was roundly ignored.

When he pointed and bowed at me, though, I put my palms together in front of my face and bowed in return. He looked at me for a moment, then nodded with vehemence several times, as if a deeply held conviction had been confirmed. Yes, that nod said. Yes. Fucking-A. That's what I'm talking about. Yes! Then he waved at me, then pointed with vehemence at the next passerby.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Tales from the Playground: The Dirty Rat

A little boy of Thumper's age (almost exactly, in fact) climbed up the single step and stood on the slightly raised platform with two older kids. The girl, probably between two and three, put her hand on his chest, straightened her arm, and launched him right back off the step he just climbed and flat onto his back. He cried; his mother came running. Her mother, who was bottle-feeding a near-newborn, hadn't seen the incident and said, "Oh, he fell!" I said, "Actually, she pushed him."

The next thing I know, the girl's mother hands the tiny baby to her friend and pulls a wooden spoon out of her purse! She carries around a wooden spoon! She yanked the girl over by the arm, and whacked her a good one on the bare back of her leg. I couldn't believe it! Is it me, or does that strike you as an incredibly ballsy thing to do in a public place in this day and age?

I feel horrible. I ratted her out, and she got whacked. I mean, she was an aggressive little snot, but now I think I understand from whom she's learning that aggression.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tales from the Playground

Sign o' the Times
A gaggle of girls are playing house during recess at the elementary school while Thumper and I wait for the cousins. The mom puts the two kids to bed, then hugs them goodnight. A few moments later, she storms back into their room and sternly declares, "You kids are supposed to be sleeping, not staying up all night watching Space Ghost videos on You Tube!"

Tough Guy Clears the Playground
On our walks around the neighborhood in the mornings, Thumper and I pass by a small playground and a big playground. There's never anyone on the small playground, and almost never anyone on the big playground. He's sadly destined to be a poor, lonely waif stuck with only his old man for company. But this morning, there were people! On the little playground! They were two moms and five kids, and the toddlery one looked very much like Thumper's age. So we made a sharp left turn, squealed our brakes, and put Thumper's Crocs on. I think Crocs on toddlers are adorable. And he was wearing his onesie with a bulldog puppy on it with the caption "Tough Guy," also adorable. And the humidity had made his hair curly and standing out from his head in adorable angles. How, I wondered, could he possibly fail to charm them into submission? But no sooner had his Crocked feet touched the ground than the whole gang of them beat a hasty retreat. I'm still trying not to take it personally.

I'm sorry, little guy. I'm trying to find you some friends, I really am. You gotta stop sleeping through the Austin SAHD playdates, though.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Things I Learned by Chatting with a Giant at the Circus

I met a giant at the circus last night. If his back had been straight, he might have been close to 8 feet tall, but he was a little hunched over. His hands and feet were huge. He said he always wanted to join the circus when he was a kid, so when he turned 18, he did. He's worked 4 different shows, some of them tent shows. It took him seven years to get into Ringling, but it's by far the best he's ever been on. That's why it took him seven years.

He told me about the one time in Georgia, when the circus was stuck between 2 tornadoes, each about a half-mile away. They evacuated, and everybody left including all of the cast and crew, but he was left behind to "take care of the tent." It had 362 stakes. He ran around and around the tent tightening the ratchets on the lines, around and around until the tornadoes passed. It was loud. But the tent stayed standing.

He's only been with Ringling for 4 months, "ever since New Orleans." His job is taking care of the horses, ponies, and goats. He works one of the shifts, feeding, watering, and scooping the poop. "That's a full-time job right there, just cleaning up shit." When his shift is over, he chain smokes Newports and chats with the guys on the local crew while he waits for the bus back to the train where they all live. Sometimes it's a mile away, sometimes ten. If he knew where it was, he'd ride his bike.

When they travel, he doesn't get much sleep, because the horses only sleep about an hour at a time, and really, "that's not even worth the trouble of lying down." Because of the rocking motion of the train, the water slops out of the troughs, so he constantly has to work at refilling them. It's a bad design. They should make them so that the sides curve back in toward the middle so that when the water sloshes, it just falls back in the trough. Bad design.

The size of your room on the train is based on your seniority, which grows over time, like the size of your room, "if you're a hard worker." His room is about the size of "the back seat of a car." Well, you know, bigger than that. But it seems like it. It has a bed and a small refrigerator. The refrigerator's right next to the bed so he can't open the door all the way. That's a bad design, too. The other rooms have the refrigerators up, but no, his is on the ground so he can't even open it all the way. And he can't put his feet down next to his bed. He has to turn them sideways.

But Ringling's the best he's been on. The pay's good, the benefits are good, and the rent for your room is only $7 a week. You believe that? But then, take a look at the room. He doesn't know what those animal groups are protesting about. The animals get better treatment than the people. Ringling doesn't mess around. If they ever find you beating an animal, they fire you. And the animals' A/C on the train is better. They have fresh food and water constantly. The food they give the horses costs $120 a bag. You believe that? $120. Oats or whatever.

And the elephants are happy. They're like kids, just playing all the time. You see that sand? They like to throw it on their backs, that's why it's there. They throw everything on their backs, water, hay, sand. Then some guys with leaf blowers blow it all off. Then they do it again. That's what it's for. For them to play in it. When the show sits down somewhere, they just dump the sand in a big pile, and the elephants roll in it. They spread it around themselves.

And they get these things they call brunches. Piles of food, apples, watermelons, bananas, whole loaves of bread. They love the bread. It's like a treat for them, whole loaves of whole wheat bread. He's seen their handlers give them a whole tree, like a 600-pound tree. They ate that thing in like ten minutes. Then the Boss Man, he think his name's Asia, he's just swinging that giant log around in his trunk, hitting the ground with it. They like bamboo, too. They like to smack it on the ground. They like the sound. And those stars on their butts? Those are freeze brands. How come only a couple have them? Don't ask him. He doesn't work with the elephants.

He loves Naked Juice. Have you tried that stuff? Pureed fruit. Rinds, banana peels and all. Everything's in there. You can taste it. This one's got 22 strawberries in it. And rose hips. Only $1.69, or some shit like that.

Traveling's the best part of working the circus. He's been everywhere. He's even been to the Alamo. You believe that? The Alamo. It's just a building. Most people wouldn't go see the Alamo, but he's been there. He's been to the top of the Statue of Liberty, too. And he's been to Vegas probably three dozen times. He's been everywhere. How many people can say that? Travel. And it's free travel. Next they're taking three days on the train to get to Illinoise. The stuff for the animals goes straight there, but them? They stop for everything. Every train crossing the track. Sometimes they stop three hours, waiting for a train. Illinoise isn't going to be any cooler, either. People think it's cooler, but it gets to 104 in Illinoise. If you're here next year, you should come see them move in. It's amazing.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Come On, Honey!

I just finished another 17-hour day ushering. My favorite part of the boys' high school basketball championships today: a raspy-voiced woman in my section was very vocal in her support for the Hornets, but when she worked the word "Hornets" through her sticky, sweet Southern accent, it came out honey. She was the perfect counterpoint to the lusty cries of her compatriots:

"De-FENSE!!"

"Come on, Honey!"

"Rebound! Aw, get the rebounds, now!"

"Let's go, Honey!"

"Call the foul, ref!"

"It's okay, Honey!"

She was very loving and supportive. What more could you want in a Booster?

My other favorite part: after the last game of the night, the friends and family of the winning team are usually loathe to leave the building. They linger. They take pictures. They chat. They take more pictures. But tonight, a Mexican Free-Tailed Bat dropped out of the rafters and made a few low passes over the crowd of loiterers. Suddenly, the crowd thinned precipitously. I think we ought to keep a couple of them there bats in cages for just such occasions. Swoop, swoop. My, is that the time?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Ah, Dutch

This kills me. So many of my fatherly fantasies during the pregnancy were embodied in what I thought was the perfection of Dutch and Juniper. It makes me sad to see him so melancholy at the threshold of his second round of fatherdom. But it's a beautiful melancholy. Sweet Juniper! is still one of the best blog experiences around.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Two Instances of Cuteness

Instance One:

I ushered at a basketball game yesterday. A three-year-old boy and his parents came out of the arena through one set of doors (known as vomitories to those of us in the show business) and began walking down the concourse to the restrooms. When they started to pass the next set of doors back into the arena, the little boy climbed up the couple of steps to the door.

"No, honey, we're going this way," said his mother, reaching for his hand.

"But I want to see THIS game now," he replied, pointing toward the door.

"That's the same game we were just watching," she answered. He furrowed his brow, and like Nigel Tufnel explaining that this one goes to eleven, he said again, "But I want to see THIS game."


Instance Two of the Cuteness can be found here and here.


Congratulations, Minivan Mom, and thanks for the mention. Does it bug you that you're MORE Than a Minivan Mom, but you frequently get abbreviated to Minivan Mom? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Maybe the Playground's Not Such a Good Idea

Scene: Bench near the playground. RODIUS and THUMPER sit on the bench.

Enter ANGELIQUE and GERMY.


ANGELIQUE: Let me hold the baby.

RODIUS: No, I don't think so.

ANGELIQUE: I want to hold the baby.

RODIUS: No.

ANGELIQUE: [Sitting] I'll sit down. Now let me hold him.

RODIUS: Nope.

ANGELIQUE: He's cute. What's his name?

RODIUS: Thumper. What's your name?

ANGELIQUE: Angelique. How old is he?

RODIUS: Three and a half months.

ANGELIQUE: He has a big head.

RODIUS: Yes.

ANGELIQUE: And big eyes. [To older child on playground] Hey Donny! [Rolling her eyes] I mean Germy. [To Rodius] I keep forgetting the stupid nickname. [To Germy] Come here!

RODIUS: Jimmy?

ANGELIQUE: Germy. Like Germany. Germy, doesn't he have a big head?

GERMY: [GERMY runs over and sits so close to RODIUS that their hips touch.] Yes, he does. [GERMY puts his face nose to nose with THUMPER and pokes THUMPER in the belly.]

RODIUS: I'd rather you didn't touch him, please.

ANGELIQUE: [Runs her hands across THUMPER's head so his hair stands straight up.] Why not?

RODIUS: Because I don't know you. I don't know if your hands are clean.

GERMY: [Pinches THUMPER's cheek] I just washed them. [THUMPER begins to cry. GERMY runs back to the playground.]

ANGELIQUE: Aw, he must be tired.

RODIUS: He's hungry. It's time for him to eat. [Pulls bottle from diaper bag and begins to feed THUMPER.]

ANGELIQUE: I didn't know dads could feed babies.

RODIUS: ...

ANGELIQUE: I made a joke. I didn't know dads could feed babies.

RODIUS: [Watching GERMY straddle a spring-mounted motorcycle and slam it back and forth into the gravel with his excessive weight.] Is he your big brother or your little brother?

ANGELIQUE: Big. He's twelve.

RODIUS: I thought he was probably older.

ANGELIQUE: I'm fourteen.

RODIUS: Really? You don't look...

ANGELIQUE: No. I'm eleven. I have a little brother who's four.

RODIUS: Where's he?

ANGELIQUE: He's at home. He's not allowed to cross the street. [Grabs THUMPER's hand.] He's still eating?

RODIUS: Don't touch him, please. Yes, it takes him a little while.

ANGELIQUE: He eats a lot. I only ate about half that.

RODIUS: When?

ANGELIQUE: What do you mean?

RODIUS: I mean how old were you when you ate about half that?

ANGELIQUE: Me? Oh, I was just born.

RODIUS: He ate less when he was just born, too. Now he eats a little more. [ANGELIQUE runs off; GERMY returns to the bench.]

GERMY: [Poking THUMPER in the belly.] You gonna swing?

RODIUS: Don't touch him. No, he hasn't really mastered sitting up yet.

GERMY: He's mastered pooping though. And peeing. And sleeping. And crying. [He scratches at scabs on his forearm.]

RODIUS: What'd you do to your arm?

GERMY: Oh, I've been real itchy lately. I scratched it so it looks like that now.

ANGELIQUE: [Returning to the bench.] He's still eating?

RODIUS: ...

ANGELIQUE: [Looking over her shoulder.] Uh oh. [To GERMY.] Time to go. Uncle Bud's coming.

GERMY: No he's not.

ANGELIQUE: OK. [Exit ANGELIQUE.]

GERMY: Where's the bathroom? [Exit GERMY.]

Saturday, November 3, 2007

He's Such a Nice Boy

Through each of the matches on the undercard, the three little old ladies sat impassively in the mobility-impaired section. Occasionally they spoke to each other in Spanish monosyllables, but for the most part, they sat in stony silence. Finally, the main event was announced, and the champ entered the ring to hometown cheers.

One of the ladies leaned over to me and asked, "Is this the main event?" I said it was. "I'm sorry," she said, "but I did not bring my glasses. Which one is that?" I told her the fighter's name. "Oh," she said. "That one is my grandson."

"Well good luck to him then!" I told her. "Just watch for the one in blue." The other fighter was announced, and the fight got under way. Still the three ladies were still and silent, though her grandson knocked his opponent down in the first round and the crowd chanted his name in each of the eight rounds. It was a hard-fought fight, and close. At last the ring announcer declared a split decision; the champ lost.

"What does this mean for the title, split decision?" the grandmother asked me. "They share it?"

"No," I answered. "I'm afraid he lost the title."

Suddenly she was impassioned, gesturing wildly. "How can they do this?" she asked. "He works very hard! He's a very good boy!"

"It was a good fight," I said.

"Yes," she agreed. "Exactly! A good fight. They should share it!" And with that, the three little old ladies rose in unison and exited the building.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Princes Charming

I was sitting on a bench at the playground, sipping my coffee and chatting with Thumper about all that chaos and how it looked like a lot of fun and how that kid's crying because he fell down but he'll be OK, and how traditionally you're supposed to sit down on the slide but lots of kids do it lots of different ways. Thumper had his head tilted forward and his eyebrows raised; if he wore glasses, he'd have been looking over the top of them, like, "You gotta be shittin' me." A woman in a suit and high heels was running through the gravel with a little girl, playing tag.

"Yes, we're both princesses," she agreed with the girl. "Yes, let's go find our princes." At that moment, she turned and looked at me. She held eye contact for a half a second or so, then quickly turned away. I guess Thumper and I aren't quite prince material.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Vignette

The automatic doors opened as I approached the grocery store, and a three- or four-year-old boy came tearing out at top speed, his cape flapping behind him.

"Don't run!" his mother shouted as she pushed their cart out after him.

But really, I ask you, can you let the boy wear his cape and expect him not to fly?
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