Have A Little Faith!

There are so many times that I’ll be hanging out with Weevy and she’ll say something absolutely ridiculous and hilarious (or hilariously ridiculous), and I’ll think, holy fuck, I need to write that down before I forget it.  And 99.9% of the time I don’t write it down, and I forget it, and there’s another moment of Weevy’s childhood that I’ll never get back.

When I decided, back before Weevy was born, that I wanted to be her primary caregiver from cradle till… well, that has yet to be determined, I thought that by being with her all the time and taking care of her day in and day out, it would slow things down and I wouldn’t look around one day and realize she’s a grown woman and wish I’d spent more time with her.  And I’ll tell you, some of the days and weeks can really crawl by at a pace so slow it can appear that time is actually going backward.  But the months go by pretty fast.  And the YEARS… holy hell, how can it be 8 1/2 years since a tiny little human being came sliding out of my wife’s private parts?  So I have gotten to savor every day, I have spent an amount of time with my daughter that many busier parents would envy (and some hands-off parents would question), and for fuck’s sake, it’s STILL all going too fast.

Anyway.  When school started and we moved from the Upper West Side to Murray Hill, Weevy and I (and sometimes her mom as well) started what we call “Horizon Mondays.”  After school, one day a week, Weevy and I ostensibly do something vaguely cultural around town.  One week we visited the Morgan Library.  One week we hit the Empire State Building observation deck.  Other weeks, we went to our favorite local pastry shop and ate macarons and drew for an hour.  You get the idea.

For some reason, a couple of weeks ago, my lovely and brilliant wife suggested that we spend Horizon Monday at the Nintendo Store, about a 15-minute walk from our new digs. This didn’t seem very educational or of much cultural value, but I couldn’t think of anywhere better to go, and once Splatoon-mad Weevy heard the word “Nintendo,” she was sold.  So off we went.

This is a really long and roundabout way of getting to a few awesome Weevy quotes that I’m writing down for posterity’s sake, so I can read them years hence and chuckle at the memories.

So we got to the Nintendo store, Weevy’s head pretty much exploded, and we kept running up and down from the second to the first floor, looking at all the cool stuff (and, to be fair, a display of vintage Gameboys and the like, so it was almost sorta kinda like visiting a museum).  I was entirely unmoved, being a video game agnostic myself except when it comes to things like Home Run Derby.  Super Mario leaves me cold, what can I tell you.  But we were looking at these things called Amiibos, basically plastic figurines of characters in the games Weevy plays.  I was very impressed that she hadn’t asked me to actually, you know, BUY her anything, but I guess she was trying to stick to the whole “we’re visiting a museum, sort of” type vibe.  But I made the mistake of looking at an Amiibo and, trying to sound like I was into the whole scene, said, “Wow, that’s so cool.”

“Buy it!” Weevy said within about .372 seconds, trying to sound encouraging.  But hey, I might have been born on a Thursday, but it weren’t LAST Thursday.  I knew what was coming.  Lowering her voice, she said with a slight conspiratorial air, “I kind of wanted one of those, too.”  Of course.  Only so I wouldn’t feel so alone when buying one for myself.  And guess who wound up going home with an Amiibo and who didn’t.

So that was the first awesome thing she said.  The second came when we were walking home.  Like most 8-year-olds, she has the ability to change moods on a dime.  I told her that I had to stop at the bank on the way home.  Much wailing and whining ensued.  “But WHYYYYYY?  I WANT TO GO HOME!  Can’t we just go home?  DADDYYYYYY…. Not fair.”  The usual.  But as soon as we walked in the toasty warm bank (it was quite a chilly January evening), Happy Weevy burst forth once more. “Oh, it’s so nice and warm in here!… This radiator is making my butt really warm, Daddy!”  For some reason, volume modulation goes out the window when Weevy is making this sort of observation.  “DADDY, FEEL MY BUTT!  ISN’T IT WARM?”  That one came out at, I’m guessing, roughly 179 decibels.  I must say, I was torn.  Touch her butt, which might seem a little pervy to ignorant bystanders?  Or refuse and risk hurting her feelings?  Well, needless to say, I touched her butt.  And it was indeed toasty warm.  Thank you, Chase bank, for your excellent butt-warming radiators.

Thing #3: We arrived home to be greeted by our lovely and overaffectionate cat, Princess; the missus was out for the evening.  At bedtime, I told Weevy, as I tell her every night, “It’s time to clean cat poop” — meaning the litter box, not some stray clumps lying around on the floor, although that happens too.  Weevy conveniently manages to “forget” to clean the box on nights I don’t remind her.  They’re part of her weekly chores, for which she is compensated with an allowance, but she doesn’t seem to mind the docked pay for nights she didn’t clean cat poop, which makes me wonder just how effective a teaching tool this whole fee-for-service allowance method really is.

Anyway, on this night, she dragged her heels as usual.  But I was having none of it.  “You have to clean poop tonight.  I’m away tomorrow [I was headed out of town for official whiskey business], and I know you’re not going to clean poop with Mommy.”

That raised her hackles.  “How do you know?!” she fairly yelled.

“Because Mommy NEVER cleans poop.”  Not quite a truthful statement, but fairly accurate.

“WHY NOT?” Weevy said in mock outrage.  “SHE CAN’T CLEAN POOP OR SOMETHING?”

“No, she CAN, she just usually doesn’t.”

“HAVE A LITTLE FAITH!  ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE!”

I got her to clean the poop with me, but I thought that was hilarious.

Weevy’s at that age where her Nintendo and her iPad are far more amusing to her than her parents, so we don’t talk as much as we used to.  We’ve gone hours at a stretch where the only thing she says to me, besides, “Daddy, can I have something to eat?” is “Daddy, can I have something else to eat?”  But on those all-too-rare occasions where she does interact with me, she’s still a hoot and a half.  May she never change.  And may time slow down… just a bit.  I don’t ask for much.

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The Princess In Black

Back in Weevy’s younger days — those halcyon days of pre-K, mostly — she wore regular clothes only when she was in school or when she was sleeping.  Other than that, it was costumes, all day and every day.  And not just one costume a day.  She’d go from Elsa to Rapunzel to Strawberry Shortcake (known for some reason as “Strawberry Shortcut”) to Ariel back to Elsa… Her record for costume changes in a single day, if I remember correctly, was eleven, but it may have been more than that.  I think we spent as much time changing costumes as we spent actually playing.  She’d wear her costumes out, too, creating quite a stir among the Upper West Siders who had the good fortune to encounter a real live Disney princess in their midst.

Nowadays, she’s a hip, sophisticated third grader whose fashion tastes run to, as she calls them, “tight butt pants” (heaven help us when she hits puberty), unicorn sweatshirts, and sneakers.  Costumes?  SO passé, dah-ling.  But there’s still a little bit of Little Weevy in Big Weevy.  For Christmas she asked us (well, she asked Santa, in whose existence she apparently still believes, which gives this secular Jew very mixed feelings) for a Ladybug costume, referring to the character in the TV series Miraculous, which I haven’t seen.  No shell or anything, just a bodysuit (complete with gloves and feet in red with black polka dots.  But sure enough, on Christmas, she wore it to her aunt and uncle’s house, where it beautifully complemented her cousins’ pajamas and football uniforms.  She wore it the entire next day as well.

Today was “Dress Up As A Character From A Book You Love” day at school, or something like that.  And magically, as if she was four again, her excitement grew steadily by the day until yesterday, when we went shopping for the black shirt and face paint she required, she could barely contain herself.  It’s the first time all year she was actually looking forward to school.  So much so, in fact, that at 10:20 last night, when I was still getting ready to go to bed, she got up, blew past me, and sat down at the computer.  “What are you doing?” I asked.  She looked at me like I was a fucking moron and said, “It’s time to get up.”  I pointed her to the clock and back to bed, where she stayed until… 5:00.  “Good morning!” she chirped.  Cranky Mommy & Daddy made her go back to sleep, but by 5:30 she could no longer be contained.  Fuck it, we said, and got up, got her bathed and dressed and made up as The Princess In Black, whose costume she also wore last year.  But hell, she’s in a new school now, so a repeat performance was called for.

This was, I think, the best day of school she’s had all year.  Between staring at her classmates’ costumes (none of whose were as awesome as hers, in my opinion), staring at her teachers‘ costumes, and staring at her own costume, of course, she was totally in her element once more.  I guess costume-mania is like riding a bike or something, you never forget how to do it.  “I wish every Friday could be costume day, Daddy,” she told me on her way to school.  Me too, Weevy, me too.  Although my tune may change once I have to wash off all that black face paint in an hour or so.  I can’t say I miss the multiple daily costume changes, but… oh, who am I kidding, I miss it all.  Hell, if I could go back and do it all again — the pacifiers, the diaper-changing, the deathly-dull, hours-long princess games — I’d do it in a heartbeat.

 

You’re The Best

It was a ridiculous night, one which will be known in my mind at least as “Slushpocalypse.”  A few inches of unexpected wet November snow brought New York City to a standstill, traffic-wise.  It was one of those nights where you see how thin the veneer of civilization really is.  I’m convinced we’re a couple of snafus away from going back to being ridge-browed grunting hunter-gatherers, except we’ve all forgotten how to hunt and gather.

Anyway.

I would have stayed home that evening like any rational human being but for the fact that I was due downtown to try a $30,000 whisky which I was very excited to sample. The honor was a pretty exclusive one, too — I was to be one of only two writers to have sampled all four editions of said rare and expensive whisky (this was the fourth).  So I was not about to miss it.

The car service which had been arranged for me, however, had other ideas.  The publicist’s assistant, Ashley, frantically called me a few minutes before I was supposed to be picked up, informing me that my car couldn’t make it, BUT that she’d arranged for another car to pick me up and it’d be there momentarily.  “Thanks, Ashley,” I said. “You’re the best.”

Weevy, who’d been ignoring me and playing on her computer all evening, immediately perked up.  “Are you cheating on Mommy?!”

“Uhhh… what?”

“I heard you. Talking to ASHLEY.  You just told her she’s the best.”

Now, Ashley is a lovely girl, and I was truly grateful that she’d put in so much effort to get me to this event, but anyone who knows her and knows me knows that I would not be cheating on my wife with her. Except Weevy, I suppose. “I meant she’s the best publicist, not the best girlfriend, you silly.” I’m not sure she believed me, but she gave me a bit of a glare and went back to her computer.

This wasn’t the first time Weevy has said weird shit like that to me. Occasionally I’ll take her out with female friends of mine and at some point during the proceedings, she’ll say, “Are you guys dating?” Never with any judgement implied — she just seems curious. I’m not even sure she knows what dating is at age eight, but it would certainly be an unusual arrangement if the answer was “yes.”  Which it is most certainly NOT (that’s intended both for future Weevy and current wife, when they read this).

Oh, and if you’re interested, I wound up making it to the whisky tasting. By subway, because no car service could make it. The $30,000 whisky tasted all the sweeter because my fellow booze scribe decided to skip the event entirely, making me the ONLY writer who has tasted all four vintages of this particular series. I mentioned Weevy’s comment both to Ashley, who was mortified, and her boss, who thought it was hilarious. I think you have to have children to really appreciate stuff like that.

Can I Tell You Something?

Weevy says “Can I tell you something?” at least a couple of times every day. And you never know what’s going to come out of her mouth after.  Sometimes, she may actually want to tell us something. Sometimes, it turns out to be a question: “Can I have something to eat?” Often as not, it’s about something she and her friends did in whatever computer game they’re currently obsessed with. It often makes no sense to me, but I nod and act excited and try to understand what the hell she’s talking about.

Once in a while, though, “Can I tell you something?” turns out to be a real gem.

Last week, Weevy and I were looking through old photos on my phone — something she loves to do, because I refuse to put her favorite apps on my phone. The result of that, we both know, would be that any time we’re outside and away from her computer or iPad, she’d steal my phone and I’d be left twiddling my thumbs while she ignores me. This has happened more than once, and it drives me completely fucking bonkers. But looking at old photos together is a fair compromise. Sometimes.

Anyway, a photo popped up from, I believe, the summer of 2014, when Weevy was four. My spouse taken Weevy and her then-besty to Central Park for some something-or-other and both kids had gotten their faces painted. The pic in question shows Mommy holding our painted daughter, wearing a low-cut shirt, and looking… I believe the scientific term is boobalicious. I mean, she’s no Dolly Parton or anything, but this pic showed some pretty excellent cleavage.

In the intervening four years, my wife’s physique has changed quite a bit. She discovered the “joys” of strict dieting and rigorous regular workouts. Half a dozen hard boiled egg whites and two protein bars for breakfast? Nom-nom!  Deadlifts and squats and other odious endeavors three times a week?  Wheeee!  It’s not exactly my bag — she once asked me if I wanted some tips from her dietician, and I blurted out that “the way you eat seems so joyless that I could never do it.” But I have to give her credit, it has not been in vain. In her newly toned and svelte state, clothes she was bulging out of a year ago are swimming on her now. Her new outfits tend toward the tight and form-fitting, and they look — SHE looks — fabulous.

And yeah, her boobs have shrunk.  A lot.

As a red-blooded heterosexual cisgender male, I have no problem with this. Small boobs, big boobs, post-mastectomy boobs, as long as they’re in the right place, I will ogle my wife’s chest area.  But the shrinkage is definitely noticeable. And not just to me.

“Daddy,” can I tell you something?” Weevy asked on a crowded 7 train.  “Sure,” I said. If she was going to ask me for food, she was out of luck. No restaurants on the subway, after all.

“Mommy used to have really big bosoms,” she said, a little too loudly for the setting. Just in case the dozens of people within earshot missed it, she repeated: “Mommy’s bosoms were really big.  I call them bosoms because that’s what they call them in Matilda [the classic book by Roald Dahl she’s presently reading].

“I saw that picture on your phone, where she’s holding me? And her bosoms were really big. What happened to them?”  I kept my eyes on Weevy, for fear of seeing everyone around me cracking up.

“Well, she started working out, and she lost weight everywhere, including her, um, bosoms.”

“Well, they used to be really big.”

And I thought that was the end of the conversation.  I was wrong.

“I don’t have bosoms.”

“No, not yet, but you’ll have them when you’re older.”

“You don’t have bosoms.”

“Thank goodness. I’m not supposed to have bosoms.”

“Grandma has Grandma bosoms.”

Had we not been on a crowded train, I might have said something, like, “You mean old and saggy?” But I tried to maintain decorum and simply said, “Yes she does.”

“Grandpa has bosoms!  He has man bosoms.”

You know, of all the things she could choose to talk about on the 7 train, boobs — sorry, bosoms — would not have been my top choice. Man-boobs would have been even farther down the list. But Weevy clearly had bosoms on the brain, and honestly, I can’t blame her. It’s a fascinating, and, er, titillating subject.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Am I Dying?

A lot has happened since the last time I wrote, but the biggest change is that we’re currently living amongst dozens of boxes in a rental apartment two floors up from where Weevy has lived her entire life. We’re preparing to move, in a weird, piecemeal kinda way — it’s a long, boring story, trust me.

Weevy’s been through a lot of stuff by age 7 that I never went through. I didn’t lose a relative or my childhood home until I was in my mid 20s. She lost her grandfather (my dad) and her cat last year, and now she’s losing the only home she’s ever known. The plan is to move somewhere bigger and better, of course, but for now she’s sleeping on a mattress on the floor, with most of her toys in storage. It’s a hell of a lot to deal with for a little kid, especially a super-sensitive girl that will, and frequently does, burst into tears at the drop of a hat.

We sold my late father’s apartment a couple of months before preparing to put our place on the market, so I don’t know if her subconscious put two and two together and came up with the notion that moving = death. But once we packed up our home and moved upstairs, she suddenly started missing Oliver, aka BooBoo, our old cat. Oliver was… he was one of a kind. He was never very cuddly. His purr was very soft and quiet, but his meows were of such volume that my cat-sitting neighbor admitted to us that she worried he was being tortured. As he got old and frail, he took to peeing on our pillows. He was a damaged fellow in many ways, but we loved him in spite of everything. That said, the whole family has delicately confessed that we like our current cat, Princess — a joyously happy, active girl who loves nothing more to leap onto my shoulders and be cradled like a baby — just a wee bit more than we liked Oliver.

Which didn’t stop Weevy from crying every night for weeks. “I miss BooBoo!” she would sob.  “Why did he have to die?!” “Well, sweetie,” we’d explain, “He was very old for a cat, and he was very sick.” “But I miss himmmmm!” she’d wail.  It became a fucking bedtime tradition for her to be totally inconsolable about her cat — who’d died more than a year earlier, mind you — for 5-10 minutes every night.

“I miss BooBoo” eventually morphed into “Am I dying?” The cause of her potential demise was usually what she called “an oogly tummy.” It took us a while to determine that it was not, in fact, pain she was feeling, but a combo of that feeling of dread in the pit of your stomach when you’re, say, 7 years old and have to go to school, plus the effects of an absolutely horrific diet for which me and my beautiful spouse are largely responsible. Dinner is, often as not, a couple of bowls of Rice-A-Roni followed by an Eskimo Pie and a rainbow cookie. The lunches we pack for her on school days are almost entirely processed, sugar-laden carbs. It’s a small miracle that she doesn’t have rickets or scurvy or something.

Slowly we realized that at least part of her death fears are probably related to the changes going on in her life.  She still eats like a pig while remaining a veritable stick figure (she’s got her daddy’s metabolism), she’s still pretty cheerful, and after a while, she started asking “Am I dying?” with a knowing grin instead of with real concern. But she was still a little thrilled when she got the flu last week: “Can I die from the flu?” she said with a trace of worry but more excitement in her voice. “No, sweetie, it’s just like a bad cold.” “Are you SURE I can’t die from it?” And so the drama continues — for Weevy, at least.

Chopstick Helpers

The missus and I don’t talk to Weevy too much about her cultural or ethnic identity.  I guess it’s because we’re both a little… vague about it.  My wife was born in Korea and adopted when she was a year old by a nice Irish Catholic family on Long Island.  I’m Jewish by birth, raised by an atheist mother and a father who somehow managed to get me bar mitzvahed despite my doing everything in my power to sabotage it.  (Back in my teens, when he made me go to Passover seders, I’d wear crucifixes made of masking tape on my torso — leading the other guests to wonder what that ripping sound was whenever I slouched or bent over.)  Neither of us gives religion much of a thought, so neither does Weevy.  She knows she’s half Jewish and half Christian, but she doesn’t really know what it means, apart from the fact that she gets to celebrate Christmas AND Hanukkah.  As for ethnicity… well, Weevy has been known to draw self-portraits with blonde hair.  About the closest she gets to thinking about her Asian/Caucasian appearance is when she sees Asian cartoon characters and proudly proclaims, “I like her because she looks like me!”

A couple of weeks ago, Weevy and I were having lunch at her favorite Chinese restaurant.  She’s been pretty adept with chopsticks since she was three or four, but she needs a chopstick helper to use them — it’s a piece of plastic into which you insert the chopsticks, making it easier to pinch them together.

“I’m never going to learn how to use chopsticks the way you do,” she lamented.

“Well, I didn’t learn how to use chopsticks until I was in college.  And Mommy didn’t learn how to use them until even later.  And she’s Asian!”

“I’m not Asian… am I?”

Well now, I thought.  This should be interesting.  I can tell her a little bit about her background, get her asking questions… it’ll be a beautiful father/daughter bonding moment.

“Well, you’re half Asian.”

I’m giddy with excitement, like a batter waiting to knock the next ball into the seats.

“Oh.  So I guess I’ll learn to use chopsticks in… 10th grade?”

“Or even sooner!”

“OK.”

And the conversation immediately goes back to whatever she was talking about before.  I don’t remember what, but I know it had not a damn thing to do with her racial or cultural heritage.

In one way, this is a good thing, right?  Ask Weevy what she is, she’ll tell you she’s… Weevy.  No race or ethnicity or religion to pin her down.  When a girl from China started in Weevy’s class mid-year, Weevy just thought, wow, she’s from China!  She didn’t think, ooh, fellow Asian!  If we’re drowning in a sea of identity politics, Weevy is still on the shore, blissfully unaware of all that stuff.

But then again, where you’re at should also include knowing how you got there.  And yeah, Weevy is only six, so I can’t imagine learning about her roots is going to be as fascinating as, say, Pokemon Go.  But maybe a smidge of curiosity wouldn’t hurt.

In the meantime, my mother-in-law is busting our chops to teach her about religion.  “She’s gotta have something, I don’t care what it is.”  Personally, I don’t understand WHY she has to have religion, but the moment of reckoning will soon be nigh.  And maybe we’ll toss in the whole grab-bag of This Is Who You Are when we get there.  But not yet, for fuck’s sake.  Not yet.

Music

The proudest moment of my career as a proud papa occurred a couple of years ago, when Weevy was about to complete pre-K.  We were walking home from school and the subject of songs about New York came up.  I started singing Leonard Bernstein’s “New York, New York” (from On The Town — “the Bronx is up and the Battery’s down, and the people ride in a hole in the ground”).  After listening patiently to my warbling for a minute or so, she said, “Do you know this one?” And proceeded to croon, at age not-quite-five, a letter-perfect version of Sinatra‘s “New York, New York.”

A little background: I am, to put it mildly, obsessed with Frank Sinatra.  My wife likes to say to her friends that I’m “one of the three foremost Sinatra collectors in the world.” It’s not true, but I can’t deny that I’ve invested far too much time, energy, money and apartment space amassing a pretty nice collection of Ol’Blue Eyes ephemera.  I haven’t, however, tried to convert Weevy to Frankie fandom, or to any other music I love, for that matter.  I remember my own father playing his beloved classical music, both on record and on his violin.  And as we all know, at a certain point, anything your parents love becomes hopelessly square. So maybe as a result, I gravitated to rock, pop, jazz… pretty much anything but classical.

I wanted to let Weevy find her own music to love, without Daddy shoving it down her throat.  I hoped she’d develop a passion for music to match my own, but I never forced her to listen to anything.  And in fact I deliberately avoided playing her any Sinatra in particular.  Which is what made her “New York, New York” even more jaw-droppingly awesome.  It’s probably the closest I’ve ever come to crying tears of joy in her presence. Turns out she’d learned it for her school play, which involved a whole lot of sea creatures singing it as the big finale.  (I’d wondered why she sang “I want to wake up in a sea that doesn’t sleep.”)  But she genuinely likes it, and I’m damn proud.  Even if I try not to tell her so.

My other big shining moment as a proud music-obsessed papa happened a few weeks ago.  Ever since we found out we were going to have a girl early in my wife’s pregnancy, I’ve made no bones about looking forward to her inevitable love affair with tweener pop music.  I’m a fan of a lot of it, from the Jackson 5 to New Kids on the Block to the Spice Girs and Backstreet Boys.  I’d lost touch with the teen scene in recent years, so I was counting on the still-unborn Weevy to get me caught up in a decade’s time.

Weevy does love a lot of Top 40.  And while I’m not too crazy about Katy Perry, who she loves, she digs some Carly Rae Jepsen, who my inner ten-year-old can definitely get behind, and she loves “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction, which I, like millions of squealing girls, think is a first-rate pop song.

Anyway, back to the story.  Weevy’s not shy about telling me which songs she likes and commanding, “Put it on my mix.”  I’m like, fuck yeah, you want it, you got it.  I do get tired of the incessant demands for toys, but I’ll never say no to a request to plunk down $1.29 for a new tune, even if it’s a cheesy ballad from a My Little Pony soundtrack.  So this time, her request went like this:

“There’s this song they play in my movement class.  I don’t know what it’s called, but they say ‘Mmmbop’ a lot.”

Now I am not the world’s biggest Hanson fan by any stretch.  But I do love that song.  And my wife knows I love that song.  And she knows that Weevy liking this song is, like, one of the crowning achievements of my life thus far.  And she looked at me and I looked at her and we both bellowed this triumphant “OOOOOOHHHHHH!!!!!” so loudly and enthusiastically that we scared the shit out of poor Weevy, who started crying.  Once we calmed her down, however, I put on “Mmmbop,” cranked it up, and we had ourselves a party.  And then I told her about the marvelous evening I spent backstage with singer Taylor Hanson one night about five years ago, drinking and chatting about music, family, and God knows what else.  Weevy didn’t really care.  And I doubt anyone else would care, either. I just wanted to let it be known, on the record, that Taylor Hanson is one fucking nice guy.

Next up for Weevy: the Spice Girls.  She’s already announced she wants to be Posh Spice. Of course.

 

 

Mojo Jojo Threw Me In Jail

Weevy has always been, in her own strange way, into acting.  She’s loved improvising role-playing games pretty much since she’s been able to talk.  I remember when she was about three, she fell in love with the original Powerpuff Girls animated show.  It’s a weird, dark show (in its original incarnation, at least — now it’s back on the air in severely defanged form), but Daddy Censor found the goofier, less freaky episodes for her.  At Gymboree, her favorite game to play for a while was “Bubbles [the cute blonde Powerpuff Girl] Gets Thrown In Jail By Mojo Jojo [the evil, Chinese-accented monkey who plots world domination].”  The script went something like this:  Weevy would be behind bars, because they had something at Gymboree that could function as a jail cell.  I played Bubbles’ Powerpuff cohort, Blossom.

Me:  Bubbles, what happened?  Why are you in jail?

Weevy: [in a sad, quiet voice] Mojo Jojo put me in jail.

Me:  Oh no, what are we going to do?… WAIT A MINUTE, there’s a hole in the wall!  I think it’s big enough for you to escape!

Weevy would snake through the hole, there would be much rejoicing, and then we’d pretend to beat up Mojo Jojo.  Repeat as many times as it could be repeated in a 45 minute free play session at Gymboree. 

But one day, she seemed to say the lines with a little more feeling each time, her practiced frown a little more pronounced.  The second or third time around, I got to my line, “Bubbles, what happened?  Why are you in jail?”  She gave me the most heartbreaking look I’ve ever seen, and then burst into uncontrollable sobs.  I guess the plot was too tragic for her to handle, despite the happy ending.

Since then, the role-playing games have continued, although that particular one was soon abandoned.  Most of these sketches involve me playing multiple roles — three or four is the norm, though I’ve done eight on occasion — while she plays one character, who is often as not asleep, unconscious or mute.  Fortunately, I’m gifted with a wide array of voices at my disposal.  I’m also a pretty good mimic, which allows me to impersonate with some accuracy many of the characters in her favorite TV shows and movies.  The fact that our playlets are often plot-free and deathly boring makes the opportunity to do lots of voices their saving grace.

But as of last week, I’ve been unilaterally forced to act only in my natural voice.  I’m a wiseass by nature, so I’ll always introduce myself by saying, “It’s me, [name of female character].  I know I sound like a grown man, but it’s really me.”  The other day I finally asked her why she doesn’t want me to do voices anymore.  She said, “I know you’re really good at them.  But when you’re doing your voices I feel like I’m really in the movie and I get shy.  So just talk like yourself.”

It’s hard to argue with a compliment like that.

When she does give herself a speaking role, I’ll usually start her off with a softball of a line, to establish the plot or generally get the ball rolling.  “Hey, Rarity, are you excited about our tea party?”  Or, “Elsa, you look beautiful!  Is that your coronation dress?” But no matter how meticulously we’ve worked out the plot, she will almost inevitably collapse in tears:  “Daddy, I don’t know what to SAAAAYYYYYYY!” 

“Weevy,” I usually reply, “you can say anything.  I’ll just roll with it.  There’s no wrong thing to say.  You want to say ‘Derek Jeter,’ I’ll say, ‘Wow, Derek Jeter’s in Ponyville!  How exciting!  Let’s invite him to our tea party!’  You get what I’m saying?”

And the usual response: “I want to play with my iPad.”

I tell ya, it’s a good thing Meryl Streep didn’t have an iPad growing up.

My Little Pony Whisky Party

Weevy is six years old now, and her conversation gets more interesting even if the subject matter — toys, fairies, ponies, more toys — stays largely the same.  When the long-awaited Shopkins Season 6 toys (“Season 6” would seem to connote it’s a TV show, but I’ve never seen anything apart from fairly lame animated shorts on YouTube) were released, Weevy talked a blue streak about how excited she was the entire way home, pausing only to say something that sounded uncannily like my mother: “I’m sorry to be such a chatterbox, but I’m just so excited!” 

Awesome attempt at small talk, while on FaceTime with Mommy, who was out of town for work:  “So, Mommy… what have you been up to these days?”

But that’s not what I wanted to write about.  This is what I wanted to write about.

A tradition in our house is, when we get home from our traditional after-school trip to Sugar & Plumm for macarons and mac and cheese, we get the mail.  And almost every day there’s at least one package for Daddy — usually a bottle of some kind of booze.  Lately, Weevy has been getting more interested in what’s inside the packages.  Not that she wants to drink any of it, but when, say, a whisky bottle comes with an LCD screen in the box that shows an artsy video about the whisky (this really happened last week — thanks, Chivas Regal!), it’s pretty cool even if you’re six years old and you recoil at the smell of Daddy’s breath after he’s done a tasting.

Yesterday, I — she? we? — hit the jackpot.  One package contained small sample bottles of Diageo’s Special Reserves, an annual release of rare single malts, handsomely packaged in a box with a fancy hardcover book describing the whiskies.  “Ooh, fancy!” Weevy said.  “Are they rare?”  “They sure are,” I said excitedly.  The next package was even better, at least for Weevy, though I liked it just fine myself: a carousel tray which holds six rocks glasses (included) and a bottle of Basil Hayden’s bourbon (also included).  Well, that clinched it.  It was now playtime.  “OK, Daddy?  We’re going to have a My Little Pony whisky party.  I’ll be Rarity (her favorite pony) and you’ll be Twilight Sparkle.  Which one should I pour first?  Oooh, this one is 83.  That’s expensive, right?”

“It’s actually 38.  You’re reading it upside down.  And that’s the age of the whisky, not the price.  But yeah, that’s a really expensive one.” 

“Oooh, what about this one?  It’s 73!” 

“No, that’s 34.  But it’s even more rare than the 38.  It goes for $4,000 a bottle.”

“FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS?!  OK, let’s try it!”  She pretended (thankfully) to pour me a glass of 34 year old Port Ellen, which, if you know your single malts, is a big fucking deal.  “Here you go, Twilight.  How is it?”

“Mmmm, delicious!”  As I’m sure it will be when I try it for real.  Sadly, Weevy soon lost interest, and we wound up playing Winx Club fairies going to the moon.  Which was also pretty fun, actually.  But I won’t soon forget our whisky party, which is more than I can say for most of the real whisky parties I’ve attended.

You Look Good

Last night I said goodbye to Weevy for a few days; I’m headed to Mexico on a press trip.  She wanted to talk about jewelry given to her by her great aunt Betty who died before she was born (Betty actually bequeathed the jewelry to my wife, but Betty’s fingers were so slender that some of her rings actually fit Weevy).  For school, she had to bring in a photo of an artifact in her home, so we took a picture of one of Betty’s rings.

As Weevy got into bed and we said our goodnights, she asked me about Betty.

“When was her birthday?”

“September 10th.  You would have liked her.”

“Why?”

“She was a very nice and kind person.”

[Pause]

“I like you.”

“I like you too, Weevy.”

[Pause]

“You look good.”

“Oh, thank you!  And you look very beautiful.”

“I have a very handsome daddy, and a very pretty mommy.”

“Why thank you, that’s very sweet of you to say.”

[Pause]

“I want to go to sleep now.”

“OK, sweetie, goodnight.”

Just one of those random moments that make life worth living in a week when Donald Trump was elected president, and that right now make me miss her even more than I would have.