Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Friday night I got the kid home fairly late from pre-school. When we got back, his great friend our next-door-neighbor, who is four and a half months younger, was playing in their backyard. He joined her as I got dinner together.

They played and played and then it was bathtime, and our neighbor invited my son to join her and her brother. It was fine with their dad and fine with me, but it was late and my son hadn’t eaten yet.

“Aren’t you getting hungry?” I asked.

“No, I’m hungry for playing,” he said, joyously adding, “in the bath!”

The neighbor kid thought this was hilarious and she repeated, “Hungry for playing in the bath!”

I chilled in the kitchen for a bit and then joined the festivities in the neighbors’ bathroom. My son started a song which his friend thought was hilarious, and they both sang and sang and laughed and laughed at the top of their lungs.

London toot is falling down, falling down, falling down
London toot is falling down
My fair lady!

And it got more scatological from there, to much hilarious yelling and laughter. I was slightly envious of the unselfconscious Dionysian fervor, wanting to tap some of that spark myself.

Two nights later I got my chance. After the annual Pop Conference finished, Carl Wilson and J-Lon came over for a spontaneous dinner party. I got out the guitar and sang a new song that I had mentioned to Carl. He sang one, and I sang another, this time with my son playing a plastic yogurt container-drum, almost in beat and with fine energy. My son wanted to play another, and I suggested one I had written originally for him. He said No, and then somehow it ensued that I sang the song anyway and he yelled all the way through it, a sort of musical rumpus roaring chant a la Maurice Sendak’s Max. The kid kept it up through the whole song with aplomb as people laughed and laughed, and I somehow made it through the song without doubling over. I hope we can record it that way.

Ended up being a lovely party, with Jake, Carl, and me taking turns singing songs and playing guitar after I put the kid to bed. I’m always buzzed for at least a day after a hootenanny; this one was no different.

* * *

When the kid is about to pull a prank, you can always see the excitement in his face beforehand. One recent time after catching him I said, “I knew you were going to play a trick!”


“Because I could read the words on your brain!” (Once a few months ago he asked his mom how she guessed what he was going to do. “Did you read the words on my brain?” he said.)

“No you couldn’t” -- laughing -- “I hid them in my shoe where you couldn’t see them!”

I always keep words in my shoe too.

* * *

Memories of my dad

My mom turned 68 last Friday, the birthday my dad didn’t make it to. A good friend, who lost her husband a few years ago, was visiting Mom, and they apparently had a great time, for which I am glad and grateful.

My dad’s last birthday was a year and a half ago, 67, the day before his cancer diagnosis. I was digging out an old sidewalk in our side yard on his birthday, and I called him three times that day as I kept finding more treasures. He was always orders-of-magnitude more handy than I am, and I knew he would enjoy our project. The birthday present I had mail-ordered for him never arrived (it still hasn’t), but I feel sure he enjoyed the talk of the project more than he would have whatever knickknack I ordered. And the next day everything changed, and eleven months later he was dead.

* * *

Since I’m thinking of it, one thing I want to set down so as not to forget.

We had the viewing the night before his funeral, at my cousin’s funeral home, which had been my dad’s brother's and their father’s and their grandfather’s before. And I was so touched to see friends I hadn’t seen in years and years, and we had lots of pictures up, and there were many tears and much laughter. Dad wanted an open casket and that’s what he got.

And my son, who was then three and a half, asked to touch Grandpa. So I held him, and Nat reached down and touched his grandpa’s cold hand. I did too, and I might not have otherwise.

The next day five of my cousins and an uncle bore his pall and buried him.

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