Like Like

John John just finished 3rd grade but was home sick from summer camp today. Not “sick” sick, but, like, taking-antibiotics-for-a-rash sick. 

So at the lunch hour,  I took him with me to the little deli where John and I have been getting sandwiches on the regular. It’s in a strip mall convenience store run by the cutest couple. I’ve seen their kid there before and she seemed around John John’s age so had no hesitation to take him with me. 

We ordered. We waited for our sandwiches to be made. The wife made them and eventually brought them to the counter to ring us up. “He looks just like you!” She commented. He and I were both wearing masks but even with the limited exposure it was clear to her. “Yeah, people tell me all the time that he’s my mini-me.”

She showed him his sandwich to let him know that that one was his. It said “BLT” in sharpie and had a smiley face drawn next to it. The other sandwiches were unmarked, so smiley was special for the kid. So sweet. 

Back at the house, we were eating our lunch and telling John about the excursion. “What did you think?” John asked. “It was fine,” John John answered with almost-nine-years-old nonchalance. 

“The wife made our sandwiches,” I told John. Then, remembering how nice she had been, I asked John John, “Did you like her?” 

“NO!!!” he erupted. 

His tone was that saved for only the most onerous of offenses.  Like when his honor is being challenged by the accusation of ‘Liar’ from someone of dire import, like his sister. 

I was stunned to silence. 

“No, I didn’t “like her”!” he emphasized with a touch of sarcasm. 

I began to unravel. And as I realized I was unraveling, I caught John’s eye. There was a glint. I lost composure. 

The idea that he thought I was asking if he “liked” liked this lovely sandwich lady was just too, too much. I was slain. 

But now that I’ve regained composure, the question is, in light of the illumination above, what the hell meaning did he read into that smiley face?! 

I can’t ask, I won’t ask. But, I’m not sure if we can go back to that place en famille again…

I get knocked down, but I get up again…

John John is almost 6 and the world of knock-knock jokes has arrived unceremoniously on our door step. I vaguely remember some David Cross bit that had to do with hating family gatherings because of all the knock-knock jokes he had to endure from his nieces and nephews, and I only am thinking about it for the first time because we are literally under assault.

The thing is, knock-knock jokes are by nature totally lame. How could they become even less tolerable? By kids thinking that the structure of the joke is the joke, so as the adult we are forced to part-take in meaningless set ups like, “Knock knock,” “Who’s there?” “Truck.” “Truck who?” “Truckee,” (then child laughs maniacally) or whathaveyou. I made that one up to represent because the actual versions I’ve been told, which have been so so many, are so unmemorable I cannot even recall a single one. I believe that today alone I have endured dozens. Literally zero made the recall grade. I really tried but, nothing.

However! There can be a silver lining to such inanity. Especially if you are married to John Hoppin! At breakfast today, we were both indulging John John as he was bandying about his new found craft. We even told him some vintage knock-knock jokes of the “orange you glad I didn’t say banana” variety. But it went on so long and knock-knock patience was wearing thin….when John turned to John John and said:

“Knock knock,”

“Who’s there?” said John John, delighted that Papa was playing the game.

“Your father.”

“Your father who?”

“It’s your father,” said John, “Open the door.”

I immediately started crying from laughter, which made John start crying from laughter. For minutes we were laughing so hard no sound came out, wiping our eyes in a feedback loop of hysteria. John John got so mad at us, partly because he didn’t understand what was so funny, but mostly because we were no longer being his knock-knock pawns.

It’s been hours and I still can hardly write this out because it is cracking me up so hard. Either it was hilarious or my brain has been cracked by too much child humor; I can’t tell.

Two Things John John

Item One:

John John is a bit of a fraidy cat. Example: He’s been sending his little sister to go turn on lights in dark rooms since she was about 2 1/2. When I say ‘boo,’ his screams echo far longer than Koko’s. There are no two ways about it – brave in that way, he is not.

Recently at dinner, he was recounting some scary experience he had had recently, nay, shared with Koko recently. Maybe it was something on TV that he thought was scary. The actual item is unimportant.

“Koko and I are both scardey-cats, right Papa?” He asks John for confirmation and reassurance.

“Well, yes,” says John, it seems the ever obliging dad. But no.

“Except Koko’s is a function of her age.”

Stated so matter-of-factly that the meaning is totally lost on John John, who just agrees, “yeah.”

Meanwhile, I’m busting a gut over in the corner by myself trying not to draw any attention.

Item Two:

John John has requested some fruit after finishing his meal, and he is allowed. He departs to the kitchen to choose said fruit, and wash and clean it for consumption. This latter period is taking some time.

“Is everything OK back there?” I ask worriedly.

“Yes, and you will all be so amazed at what I am making to share with you,” he lets me know.

The time finally comes, and he bring out a bowl of nectarines and peaches which he has cut up for everyone in our familiy’s consumption. They are, certainly, delicious.

“Aren’t you happy that I’m sharing so well?” he asks me in a weird reverse humble moment. Just as I am busy eye-rolling John across the table, John John pipes in with his other wisdom:

“Peaches are mammals.”

A better parent than I would not have laughed as hard. I did try to keep it in, long enough for him to eek out, “I know, because of their fuzzy hair.”

I either aged 10 years, or got back the same. Not sure which, not sure that it matters.

Teach your parents well…

Koko is now big enough to be trusted to walk next to me through a parking lot. She won’t run off putting herself in harm’s way because she knows the rules and mostly abides. Number one rule, of course, is holding my hand through the parking lot. But when we are holding hands through a parking lot, old habits have a way of creeping in and I still instinctively make the pinky-thumb-wrist-lock on her sometimes. You know, the kind you do when they are newly ambulatory babies prone to breaking from your handhold, rushing off to certain danger. It is not conscious and I would not have even noticed I do it, except for the little voice recently.

“Mama, you’re hurting my ankle.”

I looked down at Koko, confused. Her ankle appeared fine. “Your ankle?”

“You’re hurting my…little ankle,” she said, hesitating. “My ankie?” she added, helpfully.

At this point I realize she is referring to her wrist and just about melt from the cuteness.

She still refers to most any joint as an ankie lately – shoulder, elbow, you name it. But I am trying not to put the lock on her hand ‘ankie’ anymore lest I cause discomfort, to say nothing of preventing her from being the big girl she is.

Back To Back

hot mops

New Music: Hot Mops “Back to Back”

Ensemble of hand drums, shakers, and cymbals, organ, bass, bass saxophone, tenor saxophone.

Recalls Miles Davis’ In A Silent Way groups. “Back To Black” is Mops’ breakthrough statement.

Tryad A

Tryad A

Blowing Fearsome Wind

“Tryad A” for bass, drums, arpeggiator, clarinets, trumpet, and saxophone. Exploring the textures of brass and wind. The simple brass harmony is based on the direct approach taken by rap producers like The Heatmakerz.

The core trio is bass and drums playing to an arpeggio.