Monday, May 31, 2010

Child of Nature

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

In My Room

This morning I was Swiffering the house - more specifically our bedroom - because it's spring and we have entirely too many pets whose new life-plan is, apparently, "Shed until bald." Because I was doing something which involved movement the two half-grown cats had to supervise and occasionally swat the Swiffer.

[I just noticed "Swat the Swiffer" sounds like a code-phrase for one of those things usually done in private, but I can't decide which one. If you feel so inclined, decide which private act it is and then use the phrase freely.]

Since the whole point of Swiffering was to decrease the amount of animal hair on the ground, the leaping and pouncing which was generating fresh hair-pyramids struck me as less than productive. The cats needed to leave. They sensed I wanted them to leave so they jetéd under the bed and against the wall. I flailed at them first with my hands, then with my arms and finally with the Swiffer, which must have seemed like being accosted by a squat, rectangular, long-haired feline. Were I a cat, I would have taken this aggressive activity as a specific and very hairy suggestion to leave this room, this place of noise and poking. But I am not a cat. What the cats took from this harassment was: "Get further into the room. Hunker down. Under no circumstance leave this room."

Fifteen minutes. Fifteen minutes of leaping, dashing, juking, feinting, and sliding across the floor. That was me. The cats danced in a precise and orderly fashion from one nook to another, shedding one-third their fur inventory with each move. In one heart-stopping moment, Diana's evasions took her near the door where I lunged forward in a focused yet ultimately failed effort to shoo her out. This new level of wrangling and counter-wrangling caused her to shed a heretofore unknown new layer of fur. It also caught the dog's attention, who wandered in and shed for a minute or so until I shoved him outside with my leg.

Finally, I flung myself under the bureau, blindly grabbed a leg and a hank of hair and pulled, hoping to God it was a cat. Under the bureau one never knows. It was a cat and I sent her on her way. A minute later, I snagged the other one and jettisoned her as well. They stood in the hallway for a second, possibly stunned, possibly enjoying a life of utter indifference once again. The morning sun hit them in such a way that I was able to enjoy the full effect of the nimbus of fur and dander circling them like a dusty aura. It floated up and away from them and caught the faint whisper of morning breeze in the hallway...lofting straight back into the bedroom.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Don't Know When I'll be Back Again

Actual conversation from my actual house this morning:

We're going somewhere. Daughter has been sent off to get ready. I'm all about autonomy these days, so I supervised none of it. She apparated in the kitchen, fully dressed.

QUINN: Are you ready to go?


QUINN: So, your bed is made?


QUINN: Teeth brushed?


QUINN: Face washed?


QUINN: Bag packed for later?

DAUGHTER: No. But I did put a scarf on the cat.

We stare at one another for a second while I try to think how I'm going to frame this so it doesn't do permanent psychological harm but also entertains me.

QUINN: I appreciate your honesty. Perhaps we might describe you as "Almost ready"?

DAUGHTER: Perhaps.

When she grows up and becomes an organizational expert, we'll all agree to forget this moment.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Maid Marion On Her Tiptoe Feet

Today I attempted to ameliorate or possibly avenge the Van Halen Consort has brought into my daughter life. Today, May 21st, shall hereafter be known around here as Skinny British Boys day. Elvis Costello, Bryan Ferry, XTC (Let's declare Andy Partridge to be two skinny British boys) and Squeeze. I ended with "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)" because it's just about the bounciest song ever.

Daughter and I flung ourselves around, loudly singing "Pulling mussels from the shell". And then we played it again, because that's one of the advantages of having your own child: brainwashing. The second time, she started trying to make sense of the rest of the lyrics of "Pulling Mussels (From the Shell)," an activity which has been known to induce seizures.

She suggested we Google the lyrics. I suddenly had a distant adolescent memory that the whole song was obliquely dirty. I prescreened; in case you're curious, it might be dirty, but only if you're a very bored and febrile teenager. It doesn't, however, make a speck of sense.

But oh, were they skinny and British.

On we danced.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Does she walk? Does she talk? Does she come complete?

I was trimming back an especially obstreperous plant this afternoon when a neighbor beckoned to me, holding something behind his back.

"Is the kid outside?" he asked.

"No," I said, with no small amount of joy. "She's off with a friend."

"Oh, good," he said. "I can show you this."

He flourished the latest issue of Playboy. This was somewhat unexpected, what with us being nice suburban types standing on a sidewalk in the light of day and him being a homosexual and all. He pointed to something on the cover.

"I knew you'd want to see it."

Oh, right. I'd heard about this. This month's naked lady was in 3-D.

He smiled gleefully and added, "There are glasses."

It seems that when he went to get the issue at a stand in Hollywood, it was abundantly and copiously staged for easy purchasing. My neighbor noted this to the vendor who snorted "Are you kidding? Every gay man in a ten-mile radius is getting one."

"Why?" I wondered out loud. "Why the gays for the 3-D naked lady? Can't be the glasses, they're cardboard and unflattering."

My neighbor pointed out that it's pop-culture and it's also zeitgeisty. There was no way gay men weren't going to participate. I then told him about the only unhip gay man I ever knew. He was a lovely sweet man and he was also a podiatrist. Turns out, if you're really concerned about corns, it's going to scrub the hipness right out of you.

I put on the glasses. I looked at the woman, who loomed out at me. "Technology can only be expected to do so much." I finally said. "They're 3-D all right, but they're still not credible."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

School House Rock

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I Ain't the Worst that You've Seen

And now, a musical interlude.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Fashion Put it All on Me

Friday, May 07, 2010

I'm Your Private Dancer

I'll have what he's having.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Beauty School Drop-Out

The eyelid lift sounds like a marvelous idea after the fifth unsettlingly candid shot in as many months. But then I saw a picture of an actress my age and I noted that even a top-notch eyelift makes one look as if one stepped out of bed in the morning because the cat was yowling, only to learn what the cat was saying was "Rise and greet the day by stepping on this dead opossum baby I left for you to examine with your instep."

Yes, it might be an alert expression, but I'm not sure it's an improvement.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Three Banquets a Day, Our Favorite Diet

Ladies and gentlemen, may I present Quinn Cummings Family Theater:

[Quinn, Consort and Daughter sit at the dinner table. Daughter, having powered down 88% of her dinner, toys listlessly with the final 12 %, much of which possibly touched a tomato or an onion in its life.]

QUINN: Honey, don’t dance with it, eat it.

DAUGHTER: May I be excused? I’m full.

QUINN: Really?


QUINN: This isn’t just because the food left on your plate possibly touched a tomato or an onion?

DAUGHTER: No. And ew.

CONSORT: Quinn, she ate more than both of us, she’s probably done.

QUINN: Okay, you’re excused.

[Daughter dashes from the table. I scrape the last 12% into container for compost. Seven minutes pass, during which Consort and I discuss tedious adult things like world politics and easement landscaping. Daughter reemerges from her room, heads purposefully to the fridge. The audience hears rustling, then clattering.]

DAUGHTER: Where’s the cast-iron pan?

QUINN: In the sink. Why?

[More clattering.]

DAUGHTER: Where’s the Miracle Whip?

QUINN: In the door. Why?

[More clattering.]

DAUGHTER: Oh, there it is. Do we have pickles?

QUINN: Also in the door. Why?

DAUGHTER: No, the other kind.

QUINN: Then no. WHY?

DAUGHTER: I’m going to make myself a grilled-cheese sandwich.

[Quinn sighs gustily.]

QUINN: You’ve got to be kidding.

DAUGHTER: Fine, I won’t grill it. I’ll just make a cheese sandwich.

QUINN: You just told me you were full.


QUINN: Less than ten minutes ago.

[Daughter stares off into space, trying to recollect. She finally shakes her head.]

DAUGHTER: I think that was Daddy.

QUINN: No, it was you. You don’t need another meal.

DAUGHTER: It’s not a meal, it’s a snack.


[Daughter looks abjectly miserable.]

DAUGHTER: But I’m starving!

QUINN: I don't want to deny your reality, but that's impossible.

The thing is, she is starving. The shortest period of time delineated by scientists is Planck time, the time required for light to travel, in a vacuum, a distance of 1 Planck length; Planck time is 10-43 second. Only slightly longer than that is Daughter time, the distance between “I couldn’t eat another bite” and “Why did you put your daughter on a hunger strike?”

Between her natural metabolism, her wildly athletic life and what I suspect is an upcoming growth spurt, what would really serve her best is an IV drip in fun fashion colors trailing her at all times. But, as with so many other things, I fear having to explain it to Social Services, so Consort and I just endlessly shovel fuel into the quick-burning furnace which is our daughter, buying lentils and eggs in bulk and washing the cast-iron pan so it might be ready to reheat a midnight snack of lasagna.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010




Well-priced, once it was on sale.

Oh, Talbots Kids, I miss you more with each passing season.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A World of Leisure