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Friday, September 28, 2012

Splat-ter of the Week: M-D-N-A... Madonna!

When Madonna tickets went on sale months ago, my friend, M, generously decided to bring the Splat-ospheric team along.  We had gone to see Madge eight or nine years ago and spent the whole night dancing, belting out her old hits, and bopping along to the occasional new song she sprinkled in among the classics.  We couldn’t wait to get into the groove again.

Four of us met up at M and G’s house on Sunday afternoon at 4.  It was early, but we wanted to allow plenty of time to park at G’s office on Independence Avenue and walk to the Verizon Center. 

Mother Nature can be a little stingy about doling out perfect weather here in DC but we can usually count on a bounty of it in September.  We savored the sun and seventy degree temps as we strolled a mile or so to meet more friends for an early dinner at Clyde’s right next to the arena.  Our group wrapped up dessert around 7:45 and asked for the check so that we could be in our seats for the 8 p.m. start time reflected on our tickets. 

None of us expected Madonna to start right at 8, and in that sense she met and exceeded our expectations.  We passed an hour making some idle chitchat and using our smartphones.  (These devices might deserve the criticism they get for the near-extinction of in-person interaction; however, they come in handy when you’re stuck waiting someplace and would love to bust out a newspaper but wouldn’t be caught dead walking in with the actual New York Times folded under your arm.)  

At 9:15, the Material Girl hadn’t materialized. We knew it was a bad sign when roadies set up a table and sound system for a DJ.  He took the stage and spun techno tunes for an hour.  We might not have minded had we felt like raving, but by this time we were in more of a mood to rant. 

Most of us can forgive lateness if we get a heads-up about it. That way we can do something with the extra time and aren’t entirely hostage to the situation.  But apparently our time is not so valuable to Madge, who is destined for greatness in customer service when she’s done with this music thing. 

She finally graced us with her presence at 10:30.  She made a grand, if sacrilegious, entrance.  But after she’d sung a couple songs from her unremarkable recent album, we wanted to hear some hits.  We saw some hits instead.  She performed her new song “Bang bang” against a backdrop of a seedy motel room, armed with a fake gun that she used to mow down every man that came her way.  With each hit, blood blanketed the movie screen behind her.  This kind of gory excess might work okay in a Tarantino film but doesn’t play as well at a live performance in a city that’s well-acquainted with gun violence. 

She followed that with a few dance classics so we forgave her.  But when she slowed “Like a Virgin” to the point of converting it to a funeral dirge, she lost us again.  We could be wrong but we think it’ll be a while before Madonna’s tune unseats “Amazing Grace” from the top spot on Billboard’s Morgue Hits countdown.  

She managed a partial redemption by closing with “Like A Prayer,” complete with gospel choir, but she’d dug a pretty deep hole.  Concertgoers that get home from the show at 2:00 a.m. on a Sunday night/Monday morning and have to work less than six hours later are frequently referred to as “former fans.”

The last time the team at Splat-ospheric waited over two hours for someone on an evening when we had high expectations was Senior Prom Night in 1989.  (Actual quote from our dad after 90 minutes had elapsed with no word from our date: “Do you think you’re being stood up?”) We didn’t warm up to that guy, either.

On the second night of her D.C. stint, not only did Madonna fail to rebound from her Sunday night splat but she compounded it by infusing her show with a political message.  She’s certainly not the only artist/entertainer to publicly endorse a candidate, or even the only one we’ve wished would shut up.  But she is the only one to implore fans to vote for Obama “because he’s a Black Muslim.” 

We regret that we have to pass up other worthy contenders to give the golden pancake to Madge. For example, the NFL almost overtook Miss Kabbalah U.S.A. for its spectacular mishandling of the referee lockout.  Fans groused about poor officiating for the first three weeks of the season but those grievances weren’t enough to spur the league to action.  The situation didn’t reach a tipping point until Monday night when the replacement refs botched a call in the final play of the Packers/Seahawks game, denying the Packers and interception and giving the Seahawks an unearned touchdown that propelled them to victory. 

Aside from aggravating fans, the mistake caused millions of dollars in bets to land in the wrong hands and dealt a serious blow to the gambling industry.  The President wasn’t about to stay silent in the face of a threat to one of the few prospering sectors of the economy so he issued a statement calling for league leaders to end the lockout.   On showing that he’s in touch with the issues that matter most to Americans, Obama pulled ahead in the polls. Mitt Romney followed with a statement of his own, condemning the bad call and noting that the replacement refs were “obviously ‘'47 percenters.'

While a worthy splat, the NFL referee fiasco was still no match for Madge. Judging by the looks of our girl she hasn’t touched a pancake since the last time we saw her on tour but we’re going to give it to her anyway.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Middle Age + New Age = Splat-tastic!

LivingSocial recently advertised a deal for yoga or pilates classes at a studio halfway between my office and my home.  I had begun to notice serious strain in both my hamstrings and my waistband, so I thought these classes might help me attack two problem regions at once.  I bought the voucher despite a so-so track record with Living Social. 

Lawyers don’t read fine print unless we’re being compensated for it so I failed to see that the classes eligible for the deal were offered infrequently and at odd hours.  Finding one that fit my schedule provided an excellent introduction to contortion.  Based on timing alone I selected “Rockin’ Vinyasa,” an all-levels group yoga class that meets on Mondays at 6 p.m.  I didn’t know what “vinyasa” was but “rockin’” sounded good to me since garden variety yoga seemed like it might be slow. 

My arrival at the studio, by contrast, was anything but slow.  I barreled into the parking lot at 5:59, burst through the front door, scribbled my name on the sign-in sheet and parted the curtains that separated the foyer from the class area. 

Women sitting on mats covered most of the studio’s hardwood floors.  I hopscotched across the room and squeezed into an unoccupied corner spot at the front of the room, all the way over on the right hand side.  My peripheral vision was apparently destined to get a workout, too.

The instructor was a middle-aged woman who was not fat by any means but didn’t have the physique of someone who spent a lot of time on the run.  She began by assessing the energy in the room.   She declared it “pretty good.”  She might have rated it “excellent” had I not unfurled my yoga mat like one of those New Year’s Eve party favors you blow  into. 

She waited for me to get settled and then instructed us to focus on our breathing.  

“Work on letting go of the day,” she said in a soothing voice.  “Study your intentions, and perhaps make a dedication.”

I hadn’t dedicated anything to anyone, as far as I knew.  But I had spent hours as a teenager listening to Casey Kasem’s “Top 40 Countdown” on Sunday afternoons, and the “long-distance dedication” feature was my favorite part of the show.  During this segment Casey would read a letter from a heartbroken sap in a place like Yonkers who wanted to send a big slice of Chicago cheese like “You’re the Inspiration” to the girl he met in the funnel cake line at the county fair in Dubuque when he was visiting his cousins over the summer.  The memory made me snicker in a very non-yogi manner.

The instructor looked at me and raised one eyebrow, signaling that she knew an interloper when she saw one.

I had no idea who or what I could dedicate the session to --most people who know me would refuse to be associated with my slapstick masquerading as yoga—so I just focused on trying to center my mind. 

I was making decent progress until the instructor told us to chant.  As the rest of the room solemnly buzzed out an “ohm” I busted a gut.   Were these people serious?  I glanced around and saw nothing but serene faces with closed eyes and pursed lips.  While this crowd might tolerate a wide range of yoga experience, I doubted they felt the same way about maturity so I composed myself and tried to concentrate. 

As soon as we finished the new age-y stuff, the pace picked up dramatically.  Our instructor moved us quickly through a sequence of poses, coming back to the one called “downward dog” before repeating the series again.  After a few times through this she told us to “take a vinyasa.”  I didn’t know exactly what she was referring to but I was pretty sure it wasn’t ibuprofen or a nap, the two things I really wanted to take just then.

I survived the session and have 4 more to go.  Or 276 in downward dogs.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Splat-ter of the Week: Mitt Romney

We swore we wouldn’t do it. We didn’t want to do it.  But, to borrow a defense as time-honored as it is ineffective, he made us do it.  Mitt Romney is entirely to blame for forcing us to put Campaign 2012 back onstage and him in the splatlight. 

This time he’s front and center for remarks he made at a private fundraiser that, unbeknownst to him, were captured on video and leaked on Monday.   Romney suggested in his comments that 47% of Americans are “dependent on the Government,” believe they are victims, and, therefore, are Obama supporters.   

This was quite a splat for a candidate who has spent much of the campaign battling perceptions that he’s an elitist who’s out of touch with the people.

Because Splatospheric strives to remain non-partisan, we offer two plausible explanations for Romney’s remarks:

1.     He’s a wealthy elitist.*
2.     Like most attorneys, he’s just bad at math.

Being lawyer people ourselves, we have some sympathy for the second plight; however, Romney’s ability to produce double-digit returns during his time at Bain Capital make it a little tough to argue that he’s not so good with those pesky numbers.

The candidate later acknowledged that his comments were not “elegantly stated,” which is like saying Lady Gaga is “mildly eccentric.”  (We pray no one leaks footage of Romney in a meat dress.)

So here’s your golden pancake, Mitt. You might not win anything else.  And please forgive us if it’s not very elegant. 

* Most politicians fit at least half this description, whether they admit it or not.  Various sources peg the Congressional salary range from $175,000-223,000 per year depending on position-- not exactly “Average Joe” wages.   The ones who also fit the second half of the description usually are smart enough not to admit it.   

Monday, September 17, 2012

You're In Good Hands, Unless...Part III (The Finale)

Thanks to my earlier attempt to rescue my car, my phone was dead and I had to use B’s. The “good hands people” had again become the full hands people, so my very important call got stranded for 15 minutes.  Someone far more lucid than Spicoli answered and he read my history from a call log. His rendition ended with a revisionist, “I see you canceled the tow truck.”  Only B’s hold on my arm kept me from blasting into orbit, which would have been just one more unnecessary delay.
 I righted the record.  The agent seemed to believe me and apologized for the inconvenience.  He said he'd try to get a suitable truck lined up and promised to call me back when he had it arranged. We hung up just before 4 a.m.
Moments later B and I encountered a man and a woman in the parking lot whom we assumed were a couple.  They had just parked a large white sedan right next to my car.  B worried that it might keep the tow truck from accessing my car.  As they walked out of the lot I chased them down to ask if they’d mind moving their car.  They were happy to accommodate us.  As the man moved the car, the woman informed us she was his mother.  The two of them were “just going out.”  Evidently Junior had just finished sorting out a little legal misunderstanding and they were celebrating. 
 After they left, I turned to B and asked, "Have you and your mother ever gone out together at 4 a.m., other than to the Emergency Room?" 
He got my point and we set out in search of a safer spot to hang out, like a roving production of “Waiting For Godot.”
 From the short list of candidates we chose Ben’s Chili Bowl. Ben’s stays open 22 hours a day.  Naturally, the two hour respite is from 4-6 a.m.  We knew we were on borrowed time as we ordered fries and chocolate milkshakes.  We replayed the evenings’ events as we downed them and kept and eye on B's phone, which refused to reward us with a ring.
 Half an hour went by and Ben’s  was starting to send out shut-down signals.  The staff gathered in the back for what must have been a team meeting that ended when the group chanted: "One, two, three, chili!" On my best day I can't muster up three cheers for chili so I had to admire their spirit.
 Eventually we were cast out of there, too. We still hadn’t heard from the insurance company so I decided to give up, go home and start all over the next day.  B and I got into separate cabs and parted ways.

By 5:30 a.m. I was punching numbers into the keypad on the front door of my house to get in. 
 I plugged in my dead phone and turned off the ringer.  Just before going to bed, I sent a text to my sister giving her a synopsis of the evening and letting her know the ongoing logistical circus would keep me from going to my nephew's football game that morning. 
 Sleep didn’t come quickly but once it arrived I slept hard, if briefly.  I awoke at 7:58 to a series of text messages from my sister and mother. They informed me that my mom had a spare key to my car. My parents were on their way with the key and were going to bring me to D.C. to pick up my car. This development was as confusing as it was welcome.
 I headed downstairs, started a pot of coffee, and threw open the front door for a quick temperature check.  There, at the curb, sat a car that looked suspiciously like my little blue Acura. I shut the door, thinking that sleep deprivation had caused me to hallucinate or that I had just witnessed the Miracle of Keys and Towing--not as spectacular as water and wine, but impressive enough for me to consider a return to organized religion.  
As I was mulling this over, my parents pulled into my driveway, necks craning in the direction of the curb where my car sat. My mother's face evidenced the same confusion I'd experienced on seeing it parked there. Her jaw dropped and she smiled. Dad's expression was harder to read. He wasn't exactly frowning but he certainly wasn't smiling as he got out of the driver's seat.

"What I want to know is what are you doing, going to stupid places like that?" he asked, giving my arm a teasing nudge that didn’t conceal the strong parental undercurrent moving swiftly below his light tone. 
 I tried to swim through it. "It's pretty crazy how bold this was, Dad. I parked at the brightest spot in the neighborhood.”
"I could care less about your car, Karen. It can be replaced. You can't," he said.  This was going to be like trying to surf a tsunami in a dinghy.  
His face grew stern as he prepared his closer, delivered in a voice that matched it. “You know better than that.” And he shook his head.
I felt both elated and chagrined that, at 41, I wasn’t too old to get a talking-to from my pops. "You know what, Dad?” I said, “You're right. Absolutely right."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Splat-ter of the Week (the “Day Late and Dollar Short” Edition): Digital Domain

This week we have to hand it to Digital Domain, the special effects company that dazzled us first with its work in movies such as Titanic and now with its splatting.  

On Tuesday, Digital Domain filed for bankruptcy, lasting just 10 months after its initial public offering.  (Yes, we see the parallels between the life span of Digital Domain and that of our marriage but we’re in charge here, which means we’re going to ignore them.)

The company was founded in 1993 but its leadership didn’t decide to take it public –a move some might consider its “Iceberg Moment”--until last November.  Digital Domain ripped the proverbial hull as soon as it hit the exchange.  Analysts had expected the stock to open at $10-12 per share, yet it debuted at only $8.50. 

(Here, we pause to note that James Cameron, the director of Titanic, was one of the company’s co-founders.  Because Cameron grasps that it’s better to tell the story of a sinking ship than to be on one, he seems to have found a lifeboat and jumped off before the IPO.)

Digital Domain never made the big splash envisioned for it.  By spring of 2012 its stock price had dipped to around $5.  

(Here we pause again to note that Dan Marino, former quarterback of the Miami Dolphins, is one of the company’s main shareholders.  He’s shed somewhere around $13 million in record time,  causing us to wonder whether maybe he ought to be doing commercials for bankruptcy as a weight loss method rather than Nutri-System.)

After hitting the IPO ‘berg, Digital Domain bounced back briefly in April when it produced a hologram of Tupac Shakur, the deceased rapper.  The hologram showed up onstage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts festival and performed next to Snoop Dogg, to the complete amazement of onlookers.  This technological masterpiece briefly revived the company’s sagging stock, along with the tabloid industry.  (It did not have a similarly miraculous effect on the deceased rapper.)

Investors’ renewed confidence in Digital Domain was short-lived, alas, and bankruptcy followed pretty swiftly.  Hearings began this week and have featured some very interesting testimony, as well as a hologram of twenty-five cubic feet of cash.  Okay, we might be kidding about that last part.  But we’re totally serious as we honor Digital Domain for doing a financial Titanic, albeit at a slower pace and without an orchestra on the Ledo Deck. 

Step on up and grab your golden pancake, you sultans of special effects. We know you’re hard up so we won’t even charge you for it.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

You're In Good Hands, Unless... (Part II)

B  claimed to be impressed by my calm as we sat in the parking lot at the corner of 8th and U in Northwest D.C. at 2:30 a.m., waiting for the Good Hands People to take my call so a tow truck could be sent to pick up my car, whose keys had gone on the lam, along with the thieves who stole them.  

I explained to B that I no longer form sentimental attachments to cars.  I view them mainly as a means to an end, not unlike the way beef farmers regard cattle.  Since we were killing time I ticked off a string of car-related mishaps to illustrate the evolution of my philosophy:
 ·       In 2003, a thief broke into my car near Dupont Circle. He or she raided my trunk, where my work laptop lived, right next to my gym bag.  The latter housed my prized 2002 D.C. Marathon Finisher T-shirt. Race T-shirts are usually a dime a dozen but this one was a collector’s item.  The D.C. Marathon was run only one time due to what some runners and spectators described as an appalling lack of event planning skills on the part of the organizers.  I found this judgment a bit harsh.  Not knowing where you were supposed to run added a certain element of excitement that’s all too often lacking at Mile 23 of most marathons, I thought. After all, it’s hard to hit “the wall” if you can’t find it. 
  •  Less than six months after the Dupont Circle break-in a car struck me while I was crossing the street --in a crosswalk and with the full encouragement of the little flashing white guy--one block from my home in Falls Church. While this mishap (a story for another day) didn’t involve my own car it still tends to show that I don’t have the best luck when it comes to vehicles.
 ·       In 2004, my 1995 Honda Civic was abducted in broad daylight from in front of my house while I was at work.
 ·       Five years later vandals smashed the passenger side window of my little blue Acura as it sat under a Capitol Hill streetlight. Every now and then I’m reminded of this petty crime when I happen onto a stray bit of glass or the power window rolls up just outside of the door frame and creates a charming “whoosh”ing sound for the occupants.
 “No wonder you don’t care much about cars,” B said.    

An agent finally got on the line after half an hour. Based on the cadence of his speech and its intellectual content, I considered suggesting that he audition for the role of Spicoli in the remake of Fast Times At Ridgemont High, but I stayed focused on my mission.  He said he was going to put me on hold while he contacted towing companies.  He promised the hold would be "brief."  As a lawyer, I'm ashamed of myself for failing to ask him what the meaning of the word "brief" is. 

The ensuing ten minute wait consumed most of my phone's battery and all of my patience. When Spicoli came back on the line he said he’d dispatched a tow truck and it should arrive by 3:20 a.m. He instructed me to remain with the vehicle.
At this point I told B, who had to work the next day, that he should head home since this wasn’t his problem.  He refused to leave me there, citing safety concerns.  He had a point.  The “late shift” had arrived at 8th and U and it didn’t seem friendly.  After we witnessed an altercation between two guys in a car and the pedestrian they almost struck, followed by heated negotiations involving, how shall I say, a pharmaceutical transaction, we decided to stroll around the block. 
On our third pass and at 3:20 on the dot, a flatbed tow truck appeared. The driver surveyed the cramped parking lot and the position of my car in relation to two other vehicles parked near it.  He shook his head. 
 "This ain't gonna work, lady. I can't get in there. This truck is too big and it's the wrong kind.”  He didn’t add “duh” at the end of this statement but it was implicit.  “You needed a wheel lift.”  The look on my face –a mixture of confusion and anger I’m grateful not to have seen--caused him to launch into a detailed explanation of the different types of tow trucks and their uses.
I interrupted in what I hope was a diplomatic way, conveying that I would be profoundly interested in the subject matter under any other circumstances but at the moment was slightly concerned about the time. He offered to try to get another truck sent but expressed no confidence that he could get one.  He suggested that I try my insurance company again.
[Tune back in for Part III, The Finale!]

Monday, September 10, 2012

You're In Good Hands, Unless... (Part I)

After spending a few days playing single parent to a four-month old I was ready to just play single again so I accepted an invitation from my friend, B, to hang out with him and his friends last weekend.  They planned to meet up on Friday night at DC9, a bar/restaurant at the corner of 9th and U in the Petworth area of Northwest D.C. 
 Though revitalization has begun to take hold of Petworth, its grip is not nearly tight enough for my taste so I visit this part of the city infrequently at best. But I decided it wouldn’t kill me to shed my stodgy suburban tendencies for one night.
Since B and I were coming from different directions and I had another event to attend before joining up with the group, we agreed to meet in the city. I reached 9th and U at about 11 p.m. and parked a block away from DC 9 in a well-lit, attended lot at a corner that featured plenty of pedestrian and car traffic. After the attendant took my $10 and the keys to my car, I headed to the bar.

To my surprise, B and his gang had entered the wind-down phase when I got there and lasted only an hour before making their exodus. Revelers still crowded the sidewalks as we emerged from DC 9 but B insisted on walking me to my car anyway. When we reached the entrance of the lot, a uniformed policeman stopped us and said, "Are you parked here?" I nodded and pointed at my little blue car sitting fifteen feet away.
"You can't go in, and I'll tell you why in a second." B and I looked at each other and shrugged, more curious than concerned.

The cop then unspooled yellow crime scene tape across the entrance of the parking lot, keeping us and a few fellow parkers at bay a la Les Nessman at WKRP in Cincinnati. He came back over and addressed the group from behind the tape. An armed robbery had been committed about fifteen minutes earlier, he explained. The thieves stole all of the cash from the attendants' booth and grabbed most of the car keys before fleeing.
The officer told us he couldn't let us in to look for our keys until the crime scene people arrived and did their thing. B and I stood there looking at my car behind the chain link fence, like patrons at an auto zoo. 
Fifteen minutes later the crime scene guys showed up.  We watched them for a few moments and quickly decided that this episode of "CSI: Petworth" was less interesting than watching parked cars.  We struck up a conversation with other people whose cars were hostages.  Like me, they all believed they’d parked at the safest spot in the neighborhood and were surprised by the timing and boldness of the crime. And they were as grateful as I was not to have been there when the whole thing went down.
Once the officers dusted for fingerprints, they let us approach the booth to eyeball the key rack. Since it held a mere four sets of keys, it took only a second for me to confirm that mine weren’t among them.  The parking lot owner materialized and asked me if I had a spare. I didn’t, as far as I knew.  I remembered giving the valet key to my ex-husband a few years ago and was pretty sure he still had it, along with my pots and pans, a Beethoven piano book and various other possessions too minor to rescue.
“You can’t call him?” the parking lot owner asked, sending me and B into a fit of hysterical laughter.
 My only option, then, the cops informed me, was to have the car towed to my home and a new key made. It was 1:30 a.m., hardly a peak staffing time for most auto insurance companies, I wasn't surprised, then, when a recorded voice informed me that all of the “good hands” manning the emergency roadside assistance service were currently busy assisting other callers.
 For the first five minutes I spent on hold I cracked jokes.  But as five stretched to ten and ten to fifteen, my sense of humor began to wilt, along with my tolerance for the oft-repeated "Your call is important to us, so please stay on the line." (In the Insincere Saying Olympics, this phrase gets the bronze. As good as it is, it’s got a ways to go before it outruns "with all due respect" and the perpetually golden "It's not you, it's me.")
When I was still on hold after 20 minutes, I was ready to give the good hands people the good finger. I apologized to B for inconveniencing him and for my increasing impatience.

He put his arm around me reassuringly and said, "Are you kidding? You've been pretty calm about the whole thing, I think."

Tune in tomorrow for Part II!

Friday, September 7, 2012

You Made Our Week, Clint

A week that featured the national conventions of both political parties should have yielded plenty of Splat-ter of the Week candidates, and this one did. But Clint Eastwood blew away the competition for engaging in a battle of wits with an unoccupied chair during his speech at the Republican National Convention.  (Despite being unarmed, the chair managed to pull off the win.)

While Eastwood achieved a real zenith in terms of extemporaneous political speech by non-politicians, few would dispute that it was a personal low for an actor typically viewed as a dignified tough guy. 

Empty sofas and ottomans may be lining up to spar with Eastwood but most humans seem to be inserting some distance from the Hollywood legend.  Though Clint does at least have Neil Diamond in his corner.  After all, Eastwood did the first--and we hope only--dramatic interpretation of Diamond's "I Am, I Said." Few could bring to life as Eastwood did the once-mocked lyrics "No one heard at all, not even the chair."

Grab your golden pancake, Clint. We suggest you stick to the big screen from now on and avoid the political stage.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Aunt Invasion: Day 2 (AKA "Who's The Boss?")

Baby B slept through the night and woke up at 6:30 a.m., happy and alert.  I figured he was ready to tackle the rest of the AIR ICU Program.  But it turned out that, like any self-respecting kid, B had no intention of spending the last day of summer in school.  

He telegraphed his plan to rebel during the morning’s first diaper change.  Many people had counseled me about the best way to do this.  Most suggested getting the new diaper ready and in place before changing the old.  All parents of boys recommended that I cover key parts immediately on removing the old diaper to avoid getting sprayed during the transition.  I followed both pieces of advice.  Then, I used one hand to hold up B’s legs and the other to do cleanup. 

I was aware that one orifice remained unattended but I had no choice with only two hands to my credit and both fully employed.  I wasn’t that worried, though.  I figured the odds that it would blow up in my face were pretty low.

By which I mean they were one hundred percent.  It missed my face, thank goodness, but managed to cover a fair amount of other turf.  B had just taught me one important lesson, but he wasn’t about to quit schooling me yet.

The next lesson was: “I’ll nap if I want to, when I want to, and where I want to.”  B's day normally features three or four naps for a total of 4-6 hours.  Today, he skipped the first one, skimped on the second and took the third –a two-hour bonanza- on top of me.  

Apparently B was just being polite yesterday by letting me think I was in charge.  

Even though Day 2 of AIR ICU didn’t go quite as planned, my time with B today was as precious as B himself.  And educational.  Here are some other things I learned:

1.     “I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5 makes everybody dance, regardless of age.

2.     When you leave the front door ajar long enough, even the least ambitious indoor cat eventually decides to go on walkabout. (Splat!)

3.     Scooping up a cat with one arm while holding a12-pound baby in the other engages just about every muscle in your body.

4.     If the baby loves it when you belt out “The Wheels On the Bus,” you’ll sing it so many times you’ll get to the fuzzy dice verse.

5.     Nothing—and I mean nothing—sounds better than Baby B laughing.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Aunt Invasion

I have no children and no pets, and the few plants that have lived to tell about my care probably wouldn’t give it rave reviews.  As a result I felt a bit nervous about watching Baby B while my brother and sister-in-law went away for a couple days. 

I mentioned this to a friend over breakfast a few weeks ago. “I just hope babies can’t smell fear,” I joked.  My friend, who had studied a ton of science before abandoning his plans to go to med school, didn’t even chuckle.

“They can, Karen, they can,” he said.

But any anxiety I had dissipated after spending just a few minutes with B.  As babies go, he's very low-maintenance.  He smiles easily and often.  And if he could smell fear, he didn’t show it.

I started Day 1 of "Aunt In Residence: Infant Care Unit" with a long walk.  B is not one of those babies who likes quiet so I brought my iPod along and used the stroll as an opportunity to kick off my Music Appreciation Experiment.  I began with The Neils (Young and Diamond), two icons whose voices and music I happen to detest.  I played “Old Man” by Young.  B screwed up his face –thank God -- so I moved on to Diamond.  B didn’t exactly launch the ipod out of the stroller but he didn’t look too eager to turn on his heartlight, either. So far, so good. 

I moved on to The Barrys (Manilow and White). My nephew seemed to enjoy “Copacabana,” which I’m sure had nothing to do with the fact that I was doing my best Carmen Miranda impression while it was playing.  B also got a case of happy feet during “Can’t Get Enough Of Your Love” by the Big Brown Mound of Sound. If nothing else, this kid is going to rule the wedding circuit.

Next I rolled out a few current hits.  B did not care for “Call Me Maybe,” by Carly Rae Jepsen, “That’s What Makes You Beautiful” by One (Hit Wonder) Direction, or “I Like It Like That” by Hot Chelle Rae.  From this I infer that B can’t be bothered with: 1) Boy bands; or 2) Artists whose names include the word “Rae”.  I haven’t tried classical music on him yet but based on his tepid response to anything with a slow drumbeat, it doesn’t look good for Mozart, Beethoven and Bach.

When we got home, I put B on his mat for tummy time and transitioned to Art Appreciation.  I pulled up an image of the Mona Lisa on my laptop.  His face took on a neutral expression and he drooled.  Drooling is B’s default response to most situations so I ignored that but took note of his appropriately enigmatic look.  Next I showed him Monet’s Garden at Giverny, which generated a little more enthusiasm (and drool). 

“The Scream” by Munch was the last work on my list but I decided against showing it lest I risk sending B an undesirable subliminal message.

I declare the first day of AIR ICU a success.  I’m looking forward to taking on math and science tomorrow…and also naps.  I’m pretty sure B can teach me a thing or two about that.