Thursday, December 17, 2009

Classic Kid Questions/Parent Repartees

What’s for dinner?
Whatever I make, that’s what.

Are we there yet?
No. We have ten more hours.

Can I watch tv?
No. It kills your brain cells. Go outside.

What’s for dinner?
Oysters.

Are we there yet?
No. Do you want me to stop the car right now? Stop asking.

Can I watch tv?
Stop asking.

What’s for dinner?
Oysters, like I told you.

Are we there yet?
NO! Stop asking!

Can I watch tv?
What’s wrong with outside? When I was a kid I spent whole days outside walking uphill to school in an avalanche.

What’s for dinner?
I could have been a contender.

Are we there yet?
If I’d chosen to stay single and write that novel.

Can I watch tv?
(silence)

Can I watch tv?
(deafening silence)

Can I watch tv?
(resentful silence, then the sound of ice cubes in a rocks glass)

Can I watch tv?
(slurring) Sure. Whatever. Mommy is resigned to the truth: you darlings are all I have.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Four Year Old Son Tells The Story of Our Love

Once upon a time, before Mommy was big, like she is now, like a triceratops, Mommy was small, like a baby. Like my baby sister, Bea. And Daddy was always Daddy but in another country like a man. When I grow up I will be a man. In another hour.

It was in Boston. A town that is not our town. Anymore. We had a red house but not anymore. Now we have carpet and we don’t eat on it. Time out. We didn’t go to the zoo there. When we were at the zoo here I didn’t see ducks. We have to go back. When are we going back to see the ducks?

That was like it was. Ducks. Mommy and daddy. Can I have a snack? I want chocolate milk! Not that kind. Not that kind. The 2 per cent kind like at Nannie and Grandad’s. Waaaahhhh! I’m not your friend, Mommy. I’m only Daddy’s friend like this, watch this Mommy, Daaadddyyyy!

(Big pause for naptime.)

Then they met. I like birthday parties. Do you like birthday parties? I do. It was John Michael’s last week and he was four like me. He has another mommy. Mommy is my mommy. We had the cake. At school there was the cake. Like daddy when he saw mommy.

When I was born mommy was fat. I was born in her stomach then I came out and I cried, then I read the book The Stork Does Not Bring You, for Christmas. Let’s read it again. Let’s read the Art Book where everyone is naked. One time I saw Daddy doing art. Or crafts. It was in the bathroom. I’m not allowed to do art in the bathroom, only at the kitchen table, only with Mommy.

I like all things that bite -- like tigers and owls. I don’t like princesses; Daddy is a man. Mommy is a girl. A woman is a woman. Woman can drive planes. And trucks. One time Daddy drove mommy crazy and she got fat again. I have a baby sister, Bea.

When is Halloween going to be here again?

I am hungry for chocolate milk and crackers. I want to play monster. Let’s play monster! Again! More! Why not! I’m not your friend anymore. (Meltdown into the couch.)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Best Childhood Foods That As An Adult, Disgust Me

Macaroni and cheese made according to the directions on the back of the package of Velveeta, the Velveeta purchased by my grandmother at Kroger’s, out Route 8, in Pittsburgh, in 1987 or 1988.

Bone marrow sandwiches with butter, smeared onto homemade white bread made by the same grandmother, the bones purchased at the Kroger’s, but from the store’s downtown location.

English muffins, split, and toasted with generic margarine melting down into the nooks and crannies. I learned English muffins had nooks and crannies from the commercials they aired during Sunday morning cartoons and I haven’t been able to forget.

Chicken in a Pot Nine Days Hot, a dish made up by my mother in the big yellow pot consisting of chicken, carrots, and potatoes. Some weeks the potatoes would turn black for reasons only science could explain, but we didn’t think to ask “why” back then. We just ate and gave thanks.

Generic fish sticks with frozen French-cut green beans, also in the black and white packaging of the Generic Isle. They left what I thought then was a good mouth-feel in the mouth. Now I know that was hydrogenated hella oil or something, possibly made in New Jersey and not any fish known to man.

Communion wafers. So crisp and crunchy and yet also melty. Like the water crackers my fancy Episcopalian grandmother (my dad’s mother, not the Kroger’s grandmother) served with Boursin cheese as an appetizer during her famous, daily, pre-dinner Borboun Old Fashioned Cocktail Hour.

What was creamier than 7th grade field trip to Hidden Valley Ski Resort hot chocolate that came spewing out into a Styrofoam cup from a vending machine nozzle? If you had packed well and had parents who were lenient with the breakfast cereals you could add the marshmallows you had hand-picked from Lucky Charms cereal box.

Cheese in a can at Calvary Camp, packed by an older camper who, for a week in 1985, found me cool enough to share with, both of us aiming the cheese canister at each other and then licking it off each other’s fingers in a confusing, sensual manner.


In England when I was twelve, my host mother made me meat pies from scratch, with gelee from the pork bones, that when I ate them hook line and sinker, I thought were like delightful savory Jell-O. Why didn’t we have savory Jell-O in the United States? Why no Marmite? And, why couldn’t an adolescent American like myself drink in America?

My lunch bag staple for eighteen years was the sliced turkey sandwich, slice of anemic Kroger’s tomato, wisp of wilted lettuce, mustard and mayonnaise. It gave me all the energy I needed to fail Chemistry.

Peanut butter breakfast cereal was off limits to us except at other people’s houses. MI didn’t even know what Cap’n Crunch was until I was old enough to sleep-over at Amanda Holland-Minkley’s.

Friday, November 20, 2009

What’s In Other People’s Fridges Says A Lot About Them

A hasty survey (taken at parties when I say I am going to powder my nose, but really I am checking out their fridges) of my friend’s fridges (and pantries) reveals that certain people can live without quinoa. Few of my friends are spelt-lovers. Few take the time to cut fruit with a fruit knife in the European manner -- there are lots of packages of Whole Foods pre-cut melon.

Many, many are disorganized (or just plain wrong) in their methods of cheese-saving. I’ve seen plastic wrap, waxed paper, a brick of bare Cheddar going cracked and dry, first around the single bite-mark that’s been taken out of it, rinds of Parmesan being saved for god know’s what romantic date night Italian minestrone that’s never going to happen.

What’s in other people’s fridges says a lot about them. For instance, that something is very wrong with them. They are still using plastic wrap to wrap up their black pepper chevre when anyone who is anyone knows better: to use brown butcher paper, or lacking that, cheesemonger’s paper.

My friends don’t want to talk about it. And I can’t bring it up because it would reveal a lot bout me, that I’m snooping about their kitchens (just to make sure they’re okay! Because I care!)
But I wonder: how many heads of fresh bib lettuce have to rot to stinky puddles to be later shamefully cleaned out of the fridge, before they realize how their cold-storage and strangely stocked pantries have to do with their childhoods.

Who are you, friends, taking a quickie bite out in the middle of the night? Hoarding “envelopes” of water-packed school lunch albacore from Costco and boxes of Amy’s Organic Macaroni Bunnies n’ Cheese? You do not have children. Tell me, is it so hard to say you were not loved? That your heart, like your stomach, went unsatisfied through middle school?

Your mother; tell me about her. About how she stored cultured butter in a crock on the countertop when everyone else’s non-Eastern-European-immigrant mother’s kept margarine. I know how that feels. Tell me how her love was as warped as plastic wrap when you pull out plastic wrap to wrap a sandwich and accidentally the plastic wrap touches the side of the still-warm toaster-oven and crumples to nothing, leaving nothing, but a strong lingering smell. I will understand. My own mother’s love was like freezer-burned gallon of ice cream.

I’ll open my fridge to show you; I still have that gallon of ice cream. All these years later I still yearn for it to not be all ice-rimey and freezer-burny, but creamy and delicious. I’ll pull apart the Western saloon-style pantry doors of my pantry. Do not be shocked, friends. We are alike, you and I. I, too, have prepared an apocalypse-survival kit of prune juice and Martini and Rossi.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Why Go Out For Thanksgiving?



Why Go Out for Thanksgiving: Nine Reasons I Can Think Of -- by Grandpa

1) You people

2) And your children, who are spoiled miscreants.

3) You messed up my tv settings last year by setting up your, what are they called, “wheees?”

4) By gum, when you’re at my house my tv stays tuned to PBS.

5) That “parade” you slack-jawed, overweight mouthbreathers who have never fought for your country watch is actually a spectacle of gross consumerism.

6) One of you is a Republican, which one? I will find you.

7) I don’t want to hear TMI about anyone’s boyfriend.

8) Especially about Sally’s boyfriend who everyone says is "well hung."

9) Or about how your grandmother’s turkey is “dry.” It’s always been dry. She works hard to make it that way and it’s your job to be thankful for it.


John Malkovitch, Don’t Die Before We Can At Least Kiss

It was when I saw you in Dangerous Liaisons that I knew. That man. That voice. Do you know that The Guardian said your voice is a “reedy, faintly orgasmic drawl.” I could have said that. Also, that thing you do with your lips and teeth that is sexy; you suck them in provocatively. You did as you looked directly at Uma Thurman who was really, in my mind, a lush, more perfect, less gawky sixteen-year-old stand-in for myself in our seduction.


Then, for awhile, you played maniacs.


Why did you do this, John, I mean, Mr. Malkovitch -- it turns me on further still to know that you and I are play-acting. You are ridiculously still sexy you. I am a sexy MILF journalist interviewing you for Vanity Fair. Should we continue our interview or are you sufficiently aroused? Not yet? Is this because you are an old(er) man, going to flab, and nearly hairless? John, John, so what? So what?!? Let my friends laugh as they drink in Demi Moore’s husband whose name I can’t think of. I am a woman of a certain age who can work with what you have left. Manipulate the remains.


I want to manipulate you; since you have played so many crazy insane gun-toting manipulators. But what I want to know is why John? Why? When, in your career, what you are best at is stage love?

Well, not love, exactly: the heady holding it out like a biscuit for a dog and then snatching it away. I want you to do that to me. If you can, please, do that to me if you still have the strength also put on French silk stockings and knickers and rouge your pallid cheeks! My love! Will you not now bring your (formerly full, bow-shaped) mouth to meet mine and then turn away, leaving me artfully flushed. Absolutely unsatisfied. Mad with desire.

Do you know how close we came to consummating? My brother in law serviced your copying needs at Kinko’s in Harvard Square, Cambridge and I also lived in Cambridge at the time. We were within miles of each other, maybe even frequentors (at different times) of the same cheese shop on Huron Street. Must I just yearn? Must I just hold the copy paper you autographed “To Elizabeth” to my heaving, post-pregnancy bosom and watch only the parts you are in of Being John Malkovich?