There are things in this life I do not understand.
Like the recent abuse of words like yummy … and marinate. And our obsession with the royal family. Before you get all angsty and defensive, it’s not that I don’t think Kate Middleton is a lovely girl with a really cute nose and a wardrobe superior to mine … it’s that WHAT ELSE COULD POSSIBLY BE IN THIS BOOK? It’s 144 pages long. And it’s not the only one. There are six other “biographies” of the royal romance on the market, and a “Kate Middleton Handbook”, which clocks in at a whopping 182 pages and probably doesn’t even bother to deconstruct those blasted hats.
Yet another thing I don’t understand is our fascination with dead people’s things. A few weekends ago, in honor of our new governor’s inauguration, Tennessee residents were generously granted free admission to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Considering a youth admission is typically $14.99, adult tickets are $21.99, and memorabilia makes my pores yawn, I figured this was the boys’ only chance to see, I don’t know, the guitar Hank Williams was clutching when he passed out drunk and froze to death on the Lost Highway. (Isn’t that how the story goes? I don’t read museum plaques that carefully either. Zzzzzzzz.)
We arrived at the Hall of Fame, got our tickets, and were quickly herded into an elevator that would take us up to the Tammy Wynette exhibit. As we strolled past case after case of Tammy’s sequined dresses, I was doing my best to make the whole thing feel magical and EVENTFUL, pointing and ooh-ing and ahh-ing and LOOK-ing!, until we arrived at a glass case containing what I can only surmise was a recreation of Tammy’s former dressing room.
How shall I describe it?
You know at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City where they have animals of bygone epochs frozen in action amidst the lush foliage of their natural habitats? This was like that, except that instead of lush foliage, there was mauve shag carpet and a chaise lounge, and instead of taxidermy foxes and gazelles, there was Tammy’s collection of ceramic pigs and a bunch of dingy bedroom slippers lined up on the closet floor.
I am haunted by those slippers.
Haunted by the fact that given the best case scenario in life, in which you really make something of yourself, it still comes down to a bunch of tourists with muffin tops staring at the drab velour house shoes where your feet used to be.
Kill me now.
To be fair, there were things besides slippers. And I will say the Hall of Fame itself is an amazing space. If you LIKE ogling the posessions of the deceased this is a great place in which to do it.
A bunch of someone's gold records.
I do remember that this was Elvis's car, because knowing how that story ends, it depressed me almost as much as the slippers.
At one point during our tour, Gus looked up at me and summarized the Hall of Fame experience thusly:
"This is the awesomest exhibit in the whole world," he said. "And also kind of boring."
Well said, little man. Well said.
Here’s a thought I’d like you to ponder today. A riddle, if you will. Nashville experienced yet another snow storm yesterday. It came on fast—starting around 3:00 in the afternoon--and by 4:00 the roads were chaos. I was downtown by the courthouse, and it took me over an hour to drive the three miles back to our house. Cars—many of them SUVs—were sliding all over the roads, unable to get up hills, tires spinning in vain.
When I returned home, I saw the customary onslaught of Facebook posts referencing the many morons who can’t drive in the snow.
It’s not the snow you have to fear, it’s the OTHER DRIVERS.
I’m trapped in the city and can't get home because of all these IDIOT DRIVERS.
There’s like an inch of snow on the ground, and everyone’s driving around like it’s the end of the world! IDIOTS!
How stupid do you have to be to get on the roads in a snowstorm with all those Tennessee drivers?
Everyone’s an idiot. Everyone’s a moron. Everyone makes dumb decisions ever minute of the day. Except for you, of course. You’re perfect. You’re brilliant. You smell good. You have four-wheel drive. You are from the Northeast. You know how to drive in the snow. Or you have relatives who do. Unlike all these STUPID, MORONIC TENNESSEE DRIVERS.
In defense of Tennessee drivers, may I just mention that THEY ARE FROM TENNESSEE? It doesn’t usually snow here. So forgive the parents of the Tennessee drivers for not shipping their teenagers to Bangor, Maine, each winter to practice driving on ice JUST IN CASE. Forgive the Tennessee drivers for not having four-wheel drive or a secret snow plough in their basements JUST IN CASE. Forgive them for not EXCELLING at driving in conditions to which they are totally unaccustomed.
And let’s say someone did want to EXCEL at driving in the snow and ice. How would that person go about practicing without breaking your idiot laws? Would they get up in the middle of the night when you are sleeping and do hill repeats? Would that make you happy? Would they practice speeding up and pumping the breaks and fishtailing until they could lose control of their vehicle with some level ofproficiency? Or! I know! Maybe they should just stay off the roads.
Yes! That’s it, you say. If they aren’t as awesome as you, they should just stay off the roads! Even an idiot could figure that out.
Why don’t these morons just stay put?
I don’t know. Maybe it's because they have JOBS. And pesky families that need to eat. And maybe (just maybe!) they are finished with their jobs for the day and want to go home. (Of course, you know that only nimble Mensa members such as yourself should get to enjoy the privilege of going home at the end of a snowy day.) But let’s just remember that they aren’t smart enough to know how dumb and bad at driving they really are. Let’s just say it’s snowing and these morons assume that they have the same rights as extraordinary persons such as yourself, and they want to get home and make dinner, or pick up their kids, or let their dogs out, or have a glass of wine, and they are unwilling to let their stupidity stand in their way.
How should they do it?
Assuming you are smart and everyone else is stupid, how do the stupid people get home in the snow without inconveniencing you?
After several weeks of his teacher's near-daily behavior warnings (for singing opera-style during reading, doing a jig in the library, talking out of turn, jumping out of his seat and gyrating like Michael Jackson, etc.), Gus got a star for good behavior yesterday. He asked if I'd take him and Patrick out for hot chocolate, and as we sat in the neighborhood coffee shop, this conversation took place.
I wonder why (girl in his class) never gets in trouble or
gets warnings at school.
Why do you think?
Probably because she doesn't ever talk.
She doesn't talk because she's really shy.
I wish I were shy! That would be awesome.
I would be a really good student if I were shy.
If you were shy, you wouldn't be Gus.
Who would I be?
Do you play with your kids?
I play with my kids. Within reason.
I’ll play a round of Candy Land (yawn) or Memory or Slap Jack. I’ll draw or participate in loosely orchestrated arts & crafts. I’ll shoot hoops or toss a ball or play hide and seek or dance to Michael Jackson songs in the living room.
Just don’t ask me to use my imagination.
My imagination is tired.
My imagination does not want be a vampire or a werewolf or a lion tamer or the older sister you never had. Or the manager of your baseball team, OR ONE OF YOUR ADORING FANS, WAVING HER ARMS AND CHEERING FOR YOU AT THE TEEN CHOICE AWARDS.
My imagination will sample one of your pretend cupcakes or feign disappointment when you give it a speeding ticket, but you’re not going to throw its ass in jail and make it eat jail food or sit on a “jail potty”.
My imagination has dignity.
And frankly, it just wants to sit and read a book.
You see, Son, a book has a beginning and an end—like a puzzle or a game of checkers. Or a glass of bourbon. The Teen-Choice-Awards-in-your-mind doesn’t even have commercial breaks. And that scares me.
My imagination is very afraid of commitment.
Don’t get me wrong. I think imaginative play is the best thing going. It’s what kids are supposed to do. But it’s what kids are supposed to do. My role as a parent is to spin the spinner, say, “Right foot on red”, and make a mental note to “accidentally” give Twister to Goodwill when no one’s looking.
Right? (Check YES or YES.)
What say you?
To role-play or not to role-play?
That is the question.
Amanda O'Brien is the author and sole proprietress of Blabbermouse, a blog she launched in February of 2005.