Monday, September 28, 2009


Well, I have finally come, with great reluctance, to the conclusion that Dennis is what he is…boney. I guess I’ll just have to own the fact that he is skinny, and it will ever be thus. He’s 127-128 lbs. with admirable regularity, but he just can’t seem to up his bulk sufficiently to break into the 130’s. I don’t understand it. I can do it with relative ease.

I, however, have made my peace with that reality, and will no longer accuse the scales of flagrant malfeasance in weights and measures by not registering greater body mass than actually exists. How liberating. Free at last! I am no longer held hostage by the promise of a phantom second “hunka,” some time in the future. He is a one-hunka man, and I roger that. So, tomorrow I plan to return all the clothes I purchased in a frenzy of optimism from the Fat Man’s Wearhouse just in case he became morbidly obese overnight from nocturnal binge eating.

Recently we were saddened by the passing of Mary Travers…of Peter, Paul and Mary. What a gifted trio. They sang the soul of the generation I grew up in, and were often the voice of a decade looking for answers to ill-conceived wars and political corruption. Actually, their songs are viable today.

Listening to their music, I am transported back to the days before my body morphed into a consortium of elbow flaps, varicose veins, arm swags, liver spots, and pendulous breasts…well, strike the last one.

We were the AQUA NET generation. Aqua Net was a feminine rite of passage from puberty through high school. It was not just THE hair spray of choice. Aqua Net was a staple in the morning regimen of every teen-age girl whose bouffant construction determined the success or failure of the whole day…possibly her entire social existence!

It was as if the whole female population were devout members of the fundamentalist coiffure religious sect…whose catechism was: the higher the bouffant, the closer to heaven. I went to school with girls whose “do” was actually knocking at the pearly gates! We figured the class that sprays together…stays together.

Not Mary Travers. Her hair was severely straight, sleek, blond, and blew in the wind. I know. I saw them in concert many times. Her voice was rich and full-bodied, and no nonsense. Her hair moved in sync with the words, as if to punctuate her musical manifesto. I am sure her lyrics influenced the policy-makers of the time.

I always admired Mary, her hair, her voice, her presence. I wanted to wear my hair straight and loose, and watch it moving gracefully at the slightest breeze. But Aqua Net ensured that even Hurricane Katrina could not have budged a single strand from its designated place in the beehive. Some coifs resembled surgical mesh, unyielding, and designed to withstand cataclysmic shifts in tectonic plates.

My Mom once told me about a woman whose bouffant was sprayed to such a point of sticky stiffness, that a black widow spider got trapped inside and could not escape. She read it in the paper, so we knew it was true. I pooh-poohed the idea…but nevertheless, each night before I wrapped each strand around a plethora of oversized rollers, I did a thorough scalp check. Actually, as I reflect back, the bristles on the rollers we used were like Samarai swords, with a special lethality that would impale any arachnid foolish enough to hazard entry into the web. Luckily, I survived generational turbulence, Twiggy, rollers, spiders, and Woodstock, to enter the safe and quiet confines of adult paranoid schizophrenia.

September really is a time of reflection, and I have been hoarding memories and measuring the passage of time by my root re-growth. But I would like to raise a can of Aqua Net to bouffants past, vintage beehives, and Mary Travers.

And speaking of hoarding memories, September is a month dense with birthdays. I always make reference to those of my kin born within a very close time span, but perhaps it is time to give a brief biographical sketch of the tribe. They may sue for defamation of character, but then they would have to discredit the facts. No lawyer is that good!

Asher is our youngest grandson. He just turned three. We were all surprised at his longevity.

Asher is road rash in diapers, malfeasance of toddlerhood, a walking felony. He continually tests the laws of gravity by daily thuds to see if these laws are indeed immutable…they are. He emits a stentorian bellow, regains his equilibrium, and promptly tests those laws again. We are constantly checking to see if his eyes are dilated. We have come to the conclusion that he operates under the Wiley Coyote delusion that if you fall off a cliff, you just scrape yourself off the pavement and keep chasing the Road Runner. He wins, by not losing.

Politeness is not necessarily a virtue Asher possesses, nor esteems in others. All six grandchildren have scars where Grandpa Ashton has surgically repaired the consequences of the latest kid to tempt the laws of gravity. But Asher has included concussions and unconsciousness in his repertoire of war wounds.

There is a “verbness” to Asher. He is a mobile calamity, a compact sphincter check. But his charm and that smile restore the decorum obliterated by the little gangster. With Asher, there is always the implication of guilt. We adore the pasty hoodlum. We try to think back to what it was like before he joined the posse. We can’t seem to recollect. I guess we must have had nanoseconds of boredom. I don’t recall. But we wouldn’t trade the kid for a single moment of silence…hmmmm.

Asher comes by his traits as a natural consequence of being born to Erin, our daughter and first venture into parenthood. Compared to her, Asher looks like he’s in a catatonic stupor. We are still awaiting the time when she sleeps through the night.

Erin was born on 9-11. Does that give a clue to her personality? Her sense of humor is what has kept us from eating our young. Here is just a sample of her personality and her schedule. It is more telling than I can express. She mapped out her daily routine when we, in a moment of sublime insanity, agreed to take care of her boys while she was out of town.

6:30-7:00 a.m. – Darling boys awaken and all hell breaks loose; Josh’s diaper needs to be changed, and Bram needs to go pee pee on the potty.
7:00-8:00 a.m. – Give kids a sippy of chocolate milk, or anything they want, and try to take a really quick shower.
7:00-9:00 a.m. – Try to get kids dressed and feed them anything you can.
9:00-Noon – GOOD LUCK…
12:00-1:00 – Try to feed them anything you can.
1:00-2:00 – GOOD LUCK
2:00-5:00 – Let the kids run wild.
5:00-6:00 – Try to feed them anything you can.
6:00-Bedtime – GOOD LUCK…
12:00 a.m. – Your time is your own. Rest and relax! You successfully conquered that day.

Police/Emergency – 9-1-1

P.S. By the way, I must tell you that some of this itinerary might work, or none of it might work. Remember, we love you, and we hope you will be speaking to us when this is all over!

Obviously, criminal insanity is a chronic condition, because even as we speak, we are helping take care of the children while Dave and Erin are in Spain for 10 days…and this time we have FOUR. Life has blessed us with the gift of dementia, so in our forgetfulness, we consented to do it all over again.

Brodi came to us on 9-18, her birth being the direct result of said dementia. I do recall saying, “Never again!” And later thinking…how did this happen? Nevertheless, she arrived three years and one week to the day after Erin.

She ate at regular intervals, and slept long stretches of time…eventually going through the night before puberty. She never cried, unless she was hungry or wet. We couldn’t figure out what was wrong with this baby. Our pediatrician suggested that perhaps she was “normal.” This was something we had never considered.

Her endurance was (and still is) phenomenal…she actually survived a big sister who liked to put her in a play shopping cart, run at top speed, and smash her into walls. This greatly concerned me because while we only had two children, we did want to see them BOTH survive to adulthood.

Brodi also has a sense of humor (a mechanism of survival), and she can give as good as she gets. In their regular contests at comparing who got the worst features from their parents, Brodi always takes the prize because she got, “Mom’s teeth in Dad’s mouth!!!” At this point, Erin concedes the competition and accepts the runner-up trophy.

Take a look at Brodi’s blog to get a feel for her ability to regulate the mundane with hilarity. And notice that while she does, in actuality, have my teeth and her Dad’s mouth, she is quite beautiful in spite of it all.

This chronically nutty life of ours is a constant source of joy. We never stop counting our blessings, even when the accounting occurs while someone is being stitched.

Our love to all,

The Clot

1 comment:

margaret said...

Have to say "Amen" to Mary and Peter Paul and Mary. Love them. Just listened to 3 of their cd's on the way home from current road trip. Sang my heart out!
Do you know aqua net still exists? I was surprised!
Cute tribute to kids.