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

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Ed Wynn as Uncle Albert, on the ceiling again.

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On the phone the other day my aunt remarked on Seattle’s prosperity. She has lived in Michigan all of her life.

Thursday night we went to a fundraiser for a homeless program. Swank restaurants had donated desserts, and my beloved spouse won a bodacious swank chocolate cake in a raffle. What were we going to do with a whole cake? We invited our neighbors and had a party Friday night. Our next-door neighbors have the best backyard for a party, so they hosted. Five households were represented -- the 2 directly north of us, the one directly south of us, one kitty-corner across the alley, and us -- and the kids -- unsurprisingly -- went bananas. Unseasonably warm spring evening, the kids tore around the yard, singing songs and dancing wildly, climbing on me and another dad, hollering and carrying on. The next-door 4-year-old taught us a funny song, and the next-door 3-year-old made up a song and dance, and our 5-year-old sang and danced -- frequently 2 songs were going simultaneously, loudly. Near the end of the party the 3 of them piled into a hammock, and I would pick them up in a hammocked bundle and roar, and they would scream in delight. After I would set them down, they would yell, “Again!” After a few lifts I got tired, and eventually said, “OK, last time.” When I set them down, the call came, “Again! Again!”

“OK, but this is the last time. Promise you won’t ask me to again.”

They all 3 nodded, very solemnly, “Yes, we promise.”

So I picked them up and roared and shook them around, they screamed in delight, I set them down, and they immediately hollered, “Again!”

I laughed harder than I had in I-don’t-know-how-long. Not that I was surprised. The predictability, the transparency -- it was beautiful.

Eventually the party ended, and I felt very sad -- sadder than the kids, who know, it’s late, it’s sleepy time. It really struck me how much sadder I felt than they seemed to. Maybe to a kid, tomorrow is another party. Adults feel it differently. I thought of the scene in Mary Poppins, where they visit Mary Poppins’s Uncle Albert, who hosts a tea party on the ceiling, because laughter in his house makes people float, and the only thing that will bring people down to earth again is a sad thought. And the sad thought that brings them down is the realization that the party must end. And this makes Uncle Albert -- portrayed by the wonderful, intense Ed Wynn -- this makes him so sad that he sobs for minutes, “The party must come to an end! That’s the saddest thing I’ve ever heard!” [Sob!] I thought of that, and almost started crying myself.

I got over it quickly.

Three parties on Saturday. My beloved spouse took our kid and the next-door kids to a fair and a parade at a nearby neighborhood, everything for free. I missed that one because I had to work. Afternoon annual barbecue at my beloved spouse’s workplace; I was going to skip that one in order to work on my bike and mow the lawn, but I ended up dropping by to pick up the kid, who was tired and wanted to leave before my beloved spouse felt she could.

And then an office party for my job. The Mariners had donated a luxury suite to another nonprofit for a benefit auction, and my boss had bought the suite for a party for our staff. My spouse and kid came too -- the kid’s first baseball game. The luxury suite is luxuriously de luxe! Free food and drinks -- beer, pop, bottled water -- big comfy chairs, free sunglasses for the kids, free programs -- it was amazing. I thought of what my aunt had said that morning on the phone, about prosperous Seattle. A bad precedent for the kid’s first ballgame. But a blast. The Mariners won 4 to 2; Ichiro had an RBI double and scored two runs; Bedard pitched a good game. The RBI double was the most exciting play of the game, with a close play at the plate as a runner scored from first. We did the Wave. We danced to “YMCA” when they played Village People’s record. We sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” It was weird, but exceedingly pleasant, to be the beneficiary of surplus luxuriousness being donated to nonprofit organizations for charity events -- an auction and a raffle -- twice in three days.

Two parties today, just me and kid, as my beloved spouse had to work. Brunch-and-afternoon party at friends C- & E-’s house. The kid and I baked banana-chocolate bread and brought the last fifth of the luxury raffle cake.
C- & E-’s 8-year-old and 3 other kids acted out Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. My kid sang “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” and the song our 4-year-old neighbor had taught us Friday night. I tried out a new song, which needs rewriting. And then a long jam session with some very good guitarists. I mostly played harmonica -- a blast.

And then a birthday party this evening for a classmate of the kid’s, at a private gym that’s set up for birthday parties. The kid got sweaty; I did all the activities too, as did a few other parents; good talks with other parents about kindergarten angst and comparing notes on eating and sleeping and learning habits of the kids; great to see the kids running around; it was a blast.

And now -- it’s put away laundry, and clean the kitchen, and read a bit, and bed. When putting the kid to bed tonight we counted the parties he’d been to recently -- 7 in 4 days -- and his eyes grew huge and he said, “Oh my gosh, I’m so lucky!”

I’m lucky too, kid. So lucky.

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