Archive for September, 2009

img_Sep_16_2009_38_05Looking in my rearview at the grill of an SUV: Yo, Julie, it’s me. You know the Jetta. You trying to remove one of my bumper stickers with that faux-safari cattlecatcher on the front of your four-wheel drive?
Yeah, they’re back. Moms hell-bent on making the start of school, of not letting Emma or Michael or Audrey or Jackson miss one minute of pre-school circle time.
Honda Odyssey “mini” vans, Range Rovers and Land Cruisers and Ford Expeditions, all keeping their kids safe while they view my presence as the equivalent of a log in a bog.
Railroad tracks approach.
Uh, Julie, you’re speeding alongside me in a lane that’s going to end. You know that, right?
I, of course, have been driving this same street at the same stinking time every stinking day of the summer, but the time to yield has come.
These moms are focused. Locked in. They’ve got their yoga pants and game faces on.
The Jetta putters toward the tracks. Julie parallels us, oblivously, no apparent plan in mind.
Oh, I see, Julie. You’re coming over, huh? Don’t sweat that signal, baby, I gotcha. Just seeing you juice the gas and swing over into my lane? That’s a pretty strong signal itself.
Don’t worry. The Jetta’s probably got one air bag working, as opposed to the nine in your car.
We’re cool.
See you at school, in 18 seconds.


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img_Sep_07_2009_26_04There it is, a seemingly innocuous plastic flute. I think Aunt A gave it to one of them in one of her ever-popular Dollar Tree El Cheapo Cornucopia Christmas gifts.
Extremely popular immediately. Kids started playing and kept playing and playing and very soon there was the scene out of “The Grinch” where the Grinch was imagining the kids below playing their woozles and kerfloozles and scrunching his face up, but now it was Aunt A saying, in a really high pitched voice, “Hey, see those holes on it? If you cover them up, it plays more than one note!”
The seemingly innocuous flute has now been around for nine months, and I keep hearing it and finding it in the middle of the floor at night. I know it cost one dollar (precisely, when is Dollar Tree, of Chesapeake, Va., going to step up and advertise in this space?). I’ve cordoned it off on the kitchen counter, for rapid and un-sighted disposal, but I know it’ll sit in the landfill for a bajillion years, what with the chemicals the Chinese factory workers used to coat it.
(Oh man, there went Dollar Tree, I guess.)
Donate it? You really think a poor single parent needs that racket?
I guess it’s got to go. Trash stash time again. Long as I get it under the coffee grounds, that’ll keep prying hands from discovering it.

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img_Sep_03_2009_53_26Two nights ago, the first before Fontaine’s first day of second grade at a new school. I’m tucking her in. For a change, the tough redhead wants to snuggle and talk.
Are you nervous about school tomorrow?
“Yeah, a little.”
That’s O.K. I remember being nervous before the first day of school every year.
“That’s what Mommy said…You mean boys get nervous too?”
Yeah. You know what boys get nervous about? What girls think of them.
“I read a comic book about a boy who got so nervous before school that he forgot to put on his underwear, and when he went to school his pants got caught on something and fell down and everybody saw his private parts.”
Oh my goodness!, I said.
(We don’t have any comic books in the house, I thought.)
Well, I said, there you go: If you get nervous tomorrow, just think, “Well, at least I am wearing underwear.”
She laughed and laughed.
And if you give the wrong answer tomorrow, just think, “But I have underwear on!”
She thought that was even funnier, and she went to bed telling me, “You are the craziest boy I know.”
So the next morning, the first day of school, when we arrived she didn’t want to get her picture taken. She was being the seven-year-old 14-year-old that she can be, I just said, “Hey, Fontaine, get up there by the school sign. I want to get a shot of you with your underwear on.”
I said it just to her, so as to avoid arrest.

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