Today, Chooch and I went to lunch with Janna and my brother Corey. We walked several blocks to Tom’s Diner, which was fine until the way back when Chooch was too tired to walk so I had to carry him in 179 degree weather and he stunk of sweat and curdled milk. Anyway, at Tom’s, he made a fist and held it out to everyone who walked past, and said, "Punch. Punch." Most people ignored him, but a fat old man wearing a big mother-whompin’ ring made a fist on his way out of the diner and shouted, "Gimme some knuckle, kid" and Chooch had this expression of "Fucking finally!"
Chooch and I both had grilled cheese and fries, but he was more interested in stealing potato chips and pickles from Janna’s plate.
A woman came in with approximately 18 children (fine, four) and as soon as they sat down behind us, a really old should-be-fucking-dead-by-now man hobbled over with a hunched back and passed out saftey suckers to each one. "I just really love kids," he exclaimed to their mom, and then he went back to his table.
Now, this lewd display of favortism went down behind my back, so I sat there and funneled my disgusted sighs and angry scowls at Janna and Corey. "So what, Chooch doesn’t qualify? Why didn’t that elderly douche balloon give my son a fucking poison treat?" I swear to God it made me so angry that I could feel my adrenaline rushing, blood crashing like cymbals in my ears, and I wanted to approach him in the worst way. Me, approaching an octogenarian over a sucker. And then what? Cause a scene over candy that would wind up dirt-encrusted and dropped on the floor after three licks? I have a really ridiculously skewed sense of entitlement.
The night before we left, I had Henry look up lodging for Corey and me while I was at work, since I am helpless and had more important things to do. My only criteria was: close to venue and cheap.
He sent me info for Red Carpet Inn, which had rooms for $49+tax. It was located in New Jersey, and it was only 3.5 miles away from the Wachovia Spectrum, where the Cure was playing Saturday night.
I quickly emailed him and said I’d take it.
“You realize this place isn’t going to be nice,” Henry chided in his reply. The user ratings all said, “You get what you pay for,” and I was OK with that because the more money I saved, the more shit I could buy throughout the trip, like Slim Jims and crack.
“Don’t you dare even think about calling and complaining,” Henry said the next morning, as he armed me with directions and SoyJoy bars.
Corey arrived at my house at 10:00 and, between filling up the gas tank with liquid gold and taking out some cash for the turnpike, etc., I managed to spend $71 before we even left Brookline.
For the 300+ miles on the Pennsylvania turnpike, Corey and I mainly reminisced about past displays of family dysfunction, which included Corey’s favorite Father-Daughter fight in which I screamed in my step-dad’s face that I wish he’d get his head cut off by the log splitter we had in our backyard. Corey was laughing, and I was too but the whole time I was thinking, “Yeah, but this was a stepping stone in the rickety path of dropping out of high school.”
I forced Corey to listen to a special mixed CD I made just for the trip, and he sarcastically cheered every time Chiodos came on. However, he is now obsessed with Dance Gavin Dance, which is more than I could have hoped for. However, I ridiculed him every time he disagreed with my musical tastes, you know, like every other obnoxious music snob does.
My favorite moment was when Corey told me he was going through my step-dad’s cell phone and discovered naked pictures of my step-dad’s girlfriend all bent over the back of the couch. Ten minutes later and it was all, “Remember when you found naked pictures of Daddy’s girlfriend?” and then we laughed all over again.
I’m not used to being the responsible one in these trips. My role is usually to wedge my fat ass in the passenger seat, armed with my vacation journal, beverage and snacks, switching up the music like it’s my destiny. Also, flirting with truckers and being Annoying: Road Trip Edition. But this time, I had to pay attention to shit, like how the car was doing on gas, if all the tires were intact, all while keeping a general sense of where the fuck we were. Oh, the pressure. Corey was in charge of the directions, but every time I would ask him where we were, he’d stare ambivalently at the map and kind of shrug. So then I would call Henry and ask, “Hey, how much farther do we have?” and he’d get all mad because I wouldn’t be able to tell him where we were since I can’t read a map and then he’d have to go and turn the computer on (he was letting it rest while I was away) and by that time I’d be all, “Oooh we’re going through a tunnel! Bubbye!”
Directions-wise, it was smooth sailing until we made it to the Philly exits and had to get off the turnpike. Corey would play with my emotions by saying things like, “We need this next exit, No wait, next one. No wait this one!!” leaving me mere seconds to swerve onto the ramp. I screamed the whole way across the Ben Franklin bridge and somehow managed to take the wrong exit, which dumped us blindly into some small town called Gloucester.
We stopped at Coastal to get gas and when I started to get out of the car, an elderly employee came over and started pumping it for me. I learned later that night that it’s like, some weird law that all New Jersey gas stations are full service, and you would think that with me being such a fucking princess, I’d have really embraced this small display of pampering, but instead I panicked because I didn’t know the protocol — was I supposed to tip him? Cheer him on? Wait silently in the car and pretend it’s not making me feel like an entitled White Person to have a Mexican work for me? I kept asking Corey but he was all, “I don’t know, this is weird and I think he hates us and I want to go” so we sped away when he was through.
I had to call Henry once again so he could get us to our motel (at this point, I didn’t even know the name of it) and our conversation went something like this:
Henry: What are you near?
Me: A black lady in really high boots.
Henry, sighing angrily: What are you near?
Me: A chocolate covered pretzel store.
While Henry was busy trying to find out where we were, I pulled over and Corey ran into the chocolate-covered pretzel place to ask a local for help. Henry kept asking me for street names, and I would answer him with very important information, like:
“Ew that guy just looked at me!” and “I hope Corey buys some delicious confections while he’s in there. The sign says they’re the best.”
Corey returned with directions at the same time Henry found us on a map. To keep Henry’s ego from deflating, I chose his directions and proceeded to doubt him the entire time, saying that I should have listened to the pretzel lady’s directions instead, which caused him to yell back and say things like, “I AM NOT THERE. I AM IN PITTSBURGH. I CANNOT SEE WHAT YOU ARE SEEING.” Then he was all, “Fuck you, find it yourself,” and hung up on me.
Both sets of directions ended up being right. The pretzel lady said we’d know we were there when we saw the Pennant night club and Weber’s burger stand, and by golly she was right.
II : Red (from blood stains) Carpet Inn
“It looks like a concentration camp,” Corey groaned as we pulled into the Red Carpet Inn. It was the kind of place that people retreated to after their slum lords evicted them; the kind of place where people crept off to have lunch break affairs; the kind of place that had mattresses broken enough for people to appropriately OD on. Corey and I just may have been the only legitimate travelers staying there.
If you can, try to remember back to the last time you emptied fifty-eight ash trays in the center of your living room and then steeped it with Pine-Sol and the musty stench of your Aunt Mary’s baby doll collection. Yeah, you remember? Well, that’s what it smelled like it in the closet-sized check-in office.
We had to wait for a man in front of us to check in, which provided us with the idle time necessary for a complete giggle breakdown. It started with Corey, who had to bring a fist to his mouth to stifle the laughter. The old woman on the other side of the bullet-proof windows shot us dirty scowls and I tried to bury myself in a Chinese take-out menu that I lifted from the counter. Corey tried to hide his laughter by turning to look out the window, nearly knocking over the “Free Use for Guests” 1980’s-model microwave off it’s shaky stand.
After receiving no pleasantries from the clerk, not even a nicotine-ravaged “Welcome to New Jersey,” we had our key handed to us and found that our room was the last one in the row, and luckily for us the door wasn’t visible from the lot. A small vestibule with a flickering overhead light had to be entered to find our door. It was the perfect setting for a late night mugging, stabbing, gang rape, tranny hooker wardrobe change.
Once inside, I was relieved to find that the room itself wasn’t too bad. It seemed to be clean, as promised by the hand-written note left on the desk, declaring that some broad named Lillian cleaned it with her own bare hands. There were some stains on the towels and sheets, along with the standard array of cigarette burns dotting the shower curtain.
The lone window in the room gave us a view of the lustrous grounds behind the motel. I looked out and, oh good, saw two shacks — just perfect for stowing murder victims, a troupe of Romanian sex slaves, and bricks of cocaine. Personally, I liked to hope that the Holy Grail was in there somewhere, shoved in the anus of a drug mule.
The bathroom light seemed a little short-winded, so I walked back to the front desk to request a new bulb. On my way there, one of the residents — a young guy in a brown t-shirt — emerged and sat in front of the door, lighting up a cigarette and staring me down. Probably he was trying to gauge if I was a potential client, maybe trying to size me up for my preference — coke, pot, meth, grande-cocked Mexicans. Hopefully he was checking out my boobs, too.
Back in the office, I had to ring the bell multiple times, praying that I wasn’t interrupting some underground cock fight or sex party, before the no-nonsense old desk clerk came out of the back room. When I told her the bathroom light wasn’t working very well, she impatiently shook her head and said, “No, it works. You gotta leave it on for about five minutes, let it warm up.” I started to thank her, but she had already turned her back on me.
“I don’t think that old lady in the office likes me,” I whined to Corey, chaining the door shut behind me.
“Well no shit. We were practically laughing in her face when you were checking in.”
A few minutes later, a domestic dispute broke out in the parking lot.
The thought of the zoo usually brings to mind smiling families, ice cream stands, fluffy animals, and tasty pizza; but then I get there and remember that really it’s full of screaming kids, air that’s heavy with fecal fumes, asshole mothers carting around wagonfuls of screaming kids, exhibits blocked by screaming kids, screaming kids in buses, screaming kids wearing matching school district t-shirts, restroom entrances flanked by screaming kids, moms in ill-fitted jeans screaming at the screaming kids, balding dads blocking out the screaming kids by fantasizing of beer and slutty babysitters. Oh, and old people. Old people on foot; old people on tram, old people in motorized wheelchairs running over screaming kids and old people on foot.
Let me break down my zoo jaunt for you:
Car ride: Are we there yet, are we there yet.
<20 minutes: Oh my god animals look at the tigers oh my god ice cream oooh Dippin’ Dots!
The worst thing for me is how predictable it is. I know that around that bend is the monkey house. I know the kimodo dragon won’t be out. I know I will hate everyone there. I know I will have to restrain myself from punting kids over fences. I know I’ll be disappointed by the food at the cafeteria and I know that Henry will act shocked at how expensive everything is.
Maybe the zoo can change some shit up, create a theme. Like, maybe The Zoo Takes Harlem. So instead of feigning astonishment and adoping a face full of wonder when I witness the requisite elephant-takes-a-dump scene, perhaps my reaction would be genuine if I stumbled upon the elephants warming themselves in a front of a garbage can fire with a cluster of hobos. Perhaps the zebras could throw some dice in an alley with some inner city kids, maybe the monkeys could smoke some crack under a bridge. I’d love to see the bears and the ostriches in a gang war.
Maybe schedule some human sacrifices. I volunteer the albinos. Who would really miss a few hundred albinos per season anyway, am I right Pittsburgh Zoo?
Chooch was mainly interested in the other children. "Yeah, but look at the LION," I would say, but he would laugh and point at the kids around him, thinking they were there for his amusement. Wait, I guess he really is a lot like me.
At the polar bear exhibit, some little mother fucker squeezed out the last bit of juice from a juice box and then tossed it onto the ground. I was appalled. I vocalized my disgust by scraping sound off my throat and scowled at him and his asshole mother as they walked away. I wanted to say something, shove my fist through their faces, make a citizens arrest.
"He’s like, six years old," Henry pointed out, concerned that I was considering physical punishment. I didn’t care! Littering is littering and his vagina-faced mother is allowing him to ruin MY WORLD.
We ran into them again before we left, in the reptile house, where I noticed that his t-shirt said, "Make pizza, not war." Making sure the little littering asshole was within earshot, I said smugly to Henry, "I want to make him a shirt that says ‘Empty juice boxes go in the garbage can, not on the ground.’" Henry rolled his eyes and continued along with Chooch.
The next thing I knew, the asshole’s equally assholey mother came barrelling around a corner, shouting, "Bram! Bram!" Her miniature litterer broke through a crowd of kids, tears streaming down his face — and in those tears my vindication manifested — and he ran into his mother’s arms.
"That’s what happens to kids who litter," I said loudly to Henry. "They get LOST." Henry told me to drop it, but I wasn’t done gloating. And it figures his name is Bram. Bram. Ha! I scoff at you, Bram.
Our last stop was the Dippin’ Dots stand, where we shared a dish of banana split freeze-dried balls of ice cream that cost FOUR DOLLARS PLUS TAX. Fuck you, zoo. It’s freezer-burnt ice cream crumbs, for Christ’s sake. As we were finishing, a partially-crippled woman sat down at the other end of our picnic table. We got up to leave and I said to Henry, "I hope she doesn’t think we left because she’s degenerate." I was actually concerned about someone’s feelings for once!
"I would never leave just because someone sat down beside me. Unless it was you," Henry said. And then we left.
Chooch and I took a walk around the neighborhood this morning. There were some pine cones scattered along the sidewalk in front of a house up on the corner and Chooch was inspired to collect five of his favorites to join us on our stroll. He carried two and I was stuck carrying the other three, which were prickly and sharp and I really wanted to chuck them into a sewer grate, but Chooch kept checking my fist to make sure they were still in there. He knows me too well.
On the way back, he recognized the pine cone-strewn corner immediately and climbed up a slight slope in the yard and plopped himself down under the pine tree, which he soon realized was a cone treasure trove. While he was maniacally harvesting pine cones like they were organs he couldn’t live without, I took a seat next to him.
And then I screamed.Screamed like I was being filleted by a native in the jungle. Screamed like I was seeing Michael Jackson’s penis darting in and out of a hole in the wall. This is the part where I screamed like an asshole, in case you couldn’t tell. Perhaps you heard me.
"Why are there tiny swords slashing my flesh!?!" That’s what I screamed, in case you were wondering. Probably someone else’s child would have looked at me in fear, possibly soiled themselves too, but Chooch is immune to my overreactions and continued piling dirt and moss into tiny mounds.
So it turns out Satan hadn’t sent an army of horned elves to siphon my blood like I originally thought, but that I had sat on a blanket of sharp pine needles. I mean, these fuckers were lethal, like I could probably give Henry a surprise sex change with one, or finally re-pierce my ears like I’ve been talking about for the past two years. I had to pluck some of them from my palms and brush the rest from my ass. Where is my tuffet when I need it? I glared at Chooch who was protected from pain by his diaper padding. Must be nice. Except for the wallowing in piss and shit part.
Nature Time was over for me at that point, so I dragged Chooch back home against his will. Not before turning around to retrieve the five original pine cones at Chooch’s (very loud) insistence. Back at home, I panicked because the sites of the needle-pricks began to burn and sear. I was about to Google "pine tree poison" to see what grisly demise was in store for me, but then Chooch and I became distracted by "Bringing Home Baby" and I forgot — UNTIL NOW — all about the fact that I’m probably dying a slow death from nature-venom.
: Being a mom means carrying shit. I learned that really quick.
: Being a mom means lugging a bucking and wailing child back home while trying to avoid his big hard head from slamming into your nose.
I drive through the urban shopping district every day on my way to work. I don’t have to go that way, but I enjoy taking in the sights — where else can I see three wig shops in one block and a man who sells bags of peanuts and screams through your car window when you say no?
Today, the flow of traffic was moving slowly. I glanced out the window and noticed a small crowd of teens, maybe early twenties at the oldest, loitering on the sidewalk. One of the girls was jumping up and down, and I thought to myself, "Aw, it’s nice to see kids excited with life."
Then I realized that she was jumping up and down in rage, and before I knew it, she grabbed another girl and shoved her into the street, in the middle of traffic, and it was ON. Fists were swinging, braids were flying, their friends were screaming. It was intense girl-on-girl street fighting. None of that sissy gun-slinging like the boys do.
A cop who looked to be in his fifties came running into the street in an attempt to break it up. By this point, everyone was idling in their cars, ignoring the green light, and people had emerged cautiously from the surrounding shops to get a peek at the action. A grandmother walked down the sidewalk and shielded her young grandson’s eyes.
The cop had to hook his arm around the one girl’s neck, the one who started it, and then dragged her off the other girl. A guy in a quilted parka came from the other side of the street and restrained her opponent. Once the cop released the first girl, she and her friend stormed off, pounding the pavement viciously with their feet and continuing to snap their fingers and emit battle cries.
Cop cars bleated in the distance, but with the girls on separate sidewalks, the drama appeared to be squelched. I didn’t want it to be over so soon! Not at least until I got to see some slurpy eviceration-action, maybe an eyeball plucked and spinning on finger tip, knife in the vagina. AT LEAST A BLOODY LIP.
I wish all of my work commutes were that action-packed.
Since the year 2001, my sole purpose in life has been to ridicule Henry as much as possible, and in ways he never could have fathomed, on the Internet and off.
This involves looting through his belongings; eavesdropping on phone calls; creating fake blogs, MySpace profiles and personal ads in his name; giggling every time he talks to other men; and A LOT of help from my side kick, Photoshop.
But sometimes, Henry makes it too easy. Like today, when he was looking through all his shit that I made him keep in the garage and not in my house, and came back into the house cradling his Air Force year book.
"Holy fucking shit, give me that!" I cried, snatching it from his meat fists. "Please tell me you’re in here!" He watched impatiently as I flipped frantically through the pages, gagging on the fumes of 1983.
"Gimme that," he said in frustration, opening the book to the page I wanted.
Running my finger down the page, I quickly found his name. I started to laugh really hard. Really, really hard. But then I stopped and said, in shock, "Dude. You kind of weren’t too gay-looking then." He rolled his eyes. "No seriously, now I wish you still looked like that. Aw, why did I have to get the stupid-looking version of you?" I’m not used to seeing Henry without his molester-stache.
Maybe I would like him more if he wore that hat all the time. I bet meals would taste better if cooked with him underneath his service hat. Maybe I would show him some respect if his dome was capped with this prestigious relic.
Maybe I would like him more if he was monochromatic.
As I’m hysterically typing this, he walked past and asked, "Does this really require an entire entry?" Does my universe center around laughing at his expense? Does an orphan slurp porridge? Does Michael Jackson grab crotches? Does auto-asphyxiation feel good?
No, really — I’m asking.
There was a candid, too! Of all the luck.
At least this tells me that Chooch should hopefully get a good twenty years of cuteness in before his looks are shot to Hell.
I wish I had listened to everyone when they said things like, "You’re not going to like it. You’re going to be bored" and "You’re going to be angry that you wasted your money. You won’t get anywhere near John Black" because those wise ones weren’t too far off the mark.
Henry had the good sense to park in a garage a few blocks away, where we’d only be robbed of $5 instead of the $10 that the Convention Center overlords would collect at the end of the weekend and probably use to buy a few thousand Ukrainian sex slaves, and I’m not sure I’d feel too comfortable having my cash play a part in that.
When we got inside and went upstairs to pay, I was relieved that it wasn’t as crowded as Henry warned. He always tries to play off my inherent hate for packs of humans when he’s trying to get out of stuff. Like concerts. We got in line, with only one family in front of us, to pay. I mocked dramatic sadness when I saw a sign that said Henry Winkler wasn’t going to appear due to illness, but the older man behind me was acting from the heart. "He’s not here? Then let’s go." I don’t think they ended up leaving, but the corners of his mustached lips were hanging flaccidly after that discovery.
A deep booming voice looped over the sound system, getting everyone pumped up for the Happy Days reunion (if Erin Moran and Cindy Williams constitutes a reunion), Mater from "Cars" (we made Chooch pump his fist, but he didn’t give a shit really) and Drake Hogestyn from Days of Our Lives. I was shocked to discover that I had been mispronouncing his last name for the past twenty years. Henry called me a re-re (his new name for me, thanks, I’m honored) but seriously, I’ve never heard his name spoken before; it’s not like Soap Opera Digest reads itself aloud to me.
$26 dollars later (RIPOFF) we were armed with our tickets and stumbled around blindly looking for the entrance. An older red haired lady stood next to the entrance and when she took our tickets, I pointed to the turnstile next to the large open entrance and asked, "Do we have to go through there?" She scoffed and said no, but I kind of wanted to. Turnstiles make me feel important, like my admission counts. Because it counts my admission.
Even when we crossed the testosterone-coated threshold, I still didn’t think it was all that crowded. I was somewhat amazed to see that there were regular-looking people there, but comforted when my expectations were met when I spied a steady flow of Nascar-jacketed indigents. Some of them wore bandannas on their heads and I think it tugged at Henry’s lower-class heartstrings. He used to wear bandannas, you know. There were also many men who appeared to have come there straight from huntin’.
Within the first minute, we found a small stage with a large banner that read Meet Drake Hogestyn, John Black from "Days of Our Lives" and the tugging of Henry’s arm began. There was a line of about fifty people waiting for his emergence. He was 45 minutes late. Henry took charge and said we should get the whole Mater thing out of the way.
After pushing past a bunch of orange-faced broads with hair so over-bleached it crackled and squeezing past acne-faced teenage boys looking at a table full of shiny car thingies (I think people in the know call them "car parts"), Mater loomed off to our left. Chooch was like, "Yay Cars!" but his face fell when he realized it was just Mater and not Lightning McQueen. Kind of like meeting the Cure but only Lol shows up and not Robert Smith. I wonder if Lol is excited that his name means ‘laugh out loud.’ I mean, the kid was still marginally happy and tried to crawl under the ropes while snot-faced creek-swimmers were getting photographed. We went to stand in line and soon found out that they wanted five fucking dollars for some gayblade to take a picture using a tiny point-and-shoot on a wobbly tripod. Henry, wanting to retain some semblance of the bread winner even though he makes me pay for everything because he blows his money on computer shit and truck porn, actually took it upon himself to go to an ATM and take cash out of his own account. What a fucking man.
While we were in line, a woman over at a near-by podium announced that a boy named Evan had lost his family. I looked at him, and I looked at Chooch who was desperate to break free of Henry’s clutch and visions of the next ten years polluted my once-happy thoughts. My child tried to get kidnapped about eighty times.
We ended up losing the crappy picture in the crappy cardboard frame that they gave us but it didn’t matter because we were allowed to take our pictures too, after we fed them their damn five bucks.
I love that there’s a gigantic can of Skoal hovering above Mater. Very subtle. Hey kids, love Mater? Now you can have teeth like his, too! Come get a free sample.
Around this time I took a good look around and realized that I was horribly overdressed and wasn’t showing any cleavage like all the other hotties and mulled over the idea of plopping out a boob. I hope someday my skin gets that beautiful sun-weathered crisp that they all proudly bare. I saw a lot of B.U.M. Equipment sweatshirts. It brought back memories of middle school.
I stalked this man while he cruised the entire circumference of this bad boy. (The truck, not the actual boy.) Henry caught on quickly to what I was up to and said, "You’d make the worst spy. You look right at the person and laugh" and then he hurried up and walked away so he wouldn’t be seen carousing with me. After I took this picture, he looked at me, ducked, and said, "Oh ha-ha, I’m sorry!" I told him it was OK, and then under my breath I mumbled, "This is right where I want you, anyway. Snap."
In between all the car showcases were long tables over-stocked with various car products. My first thought was, "But it’s all car stuff." We walked past one table and I excitedly yelled, "Oh I need one of these!!" to Henry, which made the vendor look up. "You don’t even know what that does," Henry snapped. I laughed and said, "I know." Those were the days.
We made it back to the John Black stage right as he made his grand appearance. The crowd was going nuts. Kind of. Not really, but there was some applauding and few of the hardcore female fans swooned loudly. The line was much longer by this point, so instead of going to the end of it, I accepted that Chooch wouldn’t last that long standing in a line so we stood on right up front near the stage, but out of line. It was a decent trade off, because he took some time before signing autographs to field some questions. I wasn’t expecting him to be so personable and funny! Every once in awhile, I’d glance back at Henry, who was cheekily smiling like a gaybo. He tried to act like he couldn’t be bothered after that, but I know deep down he couldn’t wait to call his mommy.
It was cool seeing Drake "John Black" Hogestyn, but seriously, I’ll never go to another car show. It was dumb. Where was the nudity? Maybe at the Gun Show.
I don’t know when my son’s obsession with cars began. Sometime in November, I think. He’d stand by the front door and yell, "Caw! Caw!" like a true Bostonian, any time anything with wheels drove past, bicycles and skateboards not excluded.
For Christmas, we told everyone to just get him cars. Cars and juice seemed to be all he had an interest in so why disappoint with airplanes, building blocks, or Backyardigan accessories? When we took him to see Santa, he could have given a shit that he was perched on Santa’s knee. All he had eyes for was the plastic car that the photographer was undulating and squeaking in an effort to eke a smile out of him. "Caw! Caw!" he yelled in a panic with outstretched arms.
Some people got him official Pixar Cars merch for Christmas, and he seemed genuinely appreciative, even though he had never seen the movie. It was on last weekend though, so Henry squeezed what little intelligence he has left in his brain cells and had the foresight to DVR it. Chooch’s first viewing lasted a few short minutes before he moved on to other things, like moving his armada of cars from the floor to the dining room table, standing back to appraise the new lineup, and then relocating them to his tent (which takes up two thirds of my living room).
That ambivalence didn’t last long. I made the mistake of placing him on the couch one morning last week, tucked his blanket and juice cup next to him, and put on "Cars" so I could sneak off into the kitchen and prepare his (frozen) waffles in peace. (And by peace, I mean without him standing on the other side of the baby gate and hurling objects at me.)
We haven’t been able to watch regular TV in his presence since. Even if it seems like he’s oblivious to the movie playing in the background, as soon as we hit ‘stop,’ he whips his head around and comes toddling over to us, chanting, "Caws? Caws? Caws?" Ad nauseum. He gets all cozy on the couch and then demands, "And car!" sending me on an egg hunt for certain cars around the house that he desperately needs to have in lap and I try to fulfill this desire as fast as possible, for fear that he might shrivel up and die. I give him his cars. "And juice!" Thus signals the start of the great juice cup hunt. "And bowl!" he commands, pointing to his bowl of pretzels with an angry finger. We do this every day, until he’s satisfied with the pile of goods burying him on the couch.
He won’t sleep with no less than four of his cars now. It’s a good thing my pajama pants are equipped with pockets, else I’d have had to make two trips getting him out of the crib this morning: one for him, one to retrieve his cars. Failure to do so will send him into a shrieking spell and real tears will flow freely. We have to stuff his backpack full of cars just to get him to willingly leave the house with us now.
This morning, after the first viewing of "Cars," I lost it. I got all caught up in my pent up resentment to being a Pixar prisoner, and defiantly punched the buttons of the remote until something I wanted to watch filled the screen with a breath of fresh air. Then I promptly sat on the remote. He noticed. Oh boy did he notice. But I held my ground. Henry sat next to me and winced, waiting to see what Chooch’s move was going to be. He turned back and resumed play with his cars. I smirked, basking in the win.
But then something tragic happened: I got up from the couch, unearthing the remote. His eyes, full of car-lust, honed in on the site of the magical "Cars" stick, and he grabbed it. "Caws. Caws. Caws!!!" he droned on and on. Then he climbed up on the couch and sat between us on the pillows so he had a slight height advantage on us. He grabbed a fistful of Henry’s hair in one hand; I laughed too soon. He turned to me, glared, and took a fistful of my hair too, and angrily chanted, "Caws Caws Caws Caws."
He was still watching it when I left to go out to lunch with my friend Jess.