I am sequestered in my office during the workday, and I need to negotiate with my wife if I want to exit for, say, a snack in the kitchen, or a trip outside to breathe a little air. Why? Because I am under surveillance by—and highly susceptible to the whims of—the 2-year old. The boy likes his Dad, perhaps a little too much. When I am around, he wants my undivided attention for piggy back rides, playing with toy cars and balls, sometimes reading a book such as “The Bunny Rabbit Show,” by Sandra Boynton, which I highly recommend. The problem is that I need a little me-time, not to mention work-at-my-job time and go-to-the-bathroom time. So I sneak strategically through the corridors of my own house, because it beats prying the boy off my leg and then having him scream for 20 minutes.
In contrast, the teenager finds solace in his own world. Right now, as I type this, he is playing piano for his piano lesson. The teacher, of course, comes to him over the cell phone. Domestic life, as good as it gets, in the age of the coronavirus.
I found Mayor McCheese a couple weeks ago, stashed away in a box with old baseball cards and airline timetables and ski-area brochures, all collectables per my warped esthetic. However, I have no memory of acquiring the Mayor. This particular version—a hand puppet with a body of thin cloth and head of rubbery plastic—is too elaborate to be a toy in a Happy Meal, which I never bought. During the Mayor’s reign (as it were) in the late 1970s and 1980s, it took more than hamburgers and fries to make me happy.
Research suggests that the puppet could be sold online for slightly less money than is worth anyone’s time, so I bequeathed it to the 2-year old. He seems as confused and bemused by Hizzoner as I am. Just what is this thing? A genetic experiment gone terribly wrong? An enchantment on an actual cheeseburger? A curse on a real mayor who loved hamburgers too well?
I put my hand inside the puppet and assume a deep, bounding voice, which is my default for imitating all mayors and related potentates, with the exception of the one actual mayor I know, who serves Bakersfield, California. I proclaim, “Hellooo, Nathen! I am Mayor McCheese. I have a hamburger for a head. Welcome to my city!” I can never think of anything else to say. The potential of the character pales in comparison to other anthropomorphic food, such as those miscreants on Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
Let the record show that if by some odd, insane turn of events, an election pitted Donald Trump against Mayor McCheese, I’d vote for the burger-head in a heartbeat. I’d go door-knocking for him. I’d contribute money to his campaign. Fortunately for us all, a better candidate than MMc seems to be in the offing, and his name is Joe Biden. I hope to take all of those actions for Joe, too.
Question: How long do your clothes last, on average? For me, jeans and shirts hang around for maybe 5 years, and suits and ties for much longer. Incredibly, though, I have a tee shirt that dates to 1987. It’s a simple red shirt that reads “Dixon Chili”, a brand that I have never seen for sale and do not recall eating. I bought the shirt at a yard sale for a buck or so. The fabric is now very thin and frayed, but still makes a serviceable undershirt. How can I throw it away, when it’s been with me so long?
One way that I’m coping with the pandemic is to make plans for when it’s over. Baseball games (my default summer diversion) seem iffy at best, so I have myself booked for January, 2021, to Calgary, Alberta, for a ski trip. The airlines are offering refundable fares, so why not? I want to ski Kicking Horse. Have you heard of Kicking Horse? It boasts an impressive vertical (4,000 feet), lots of fluffy white powder, no crowds, and a high-speed gondola. It’s a haven for experts, which I am not, but I want to ski it anyway.
“Grandpa, tell us again about baseball.”
“Well, Timmy, the batters try to hit the ball and run around the bases, while the fielders try to stop them.”
“How do they stay 6 feet apart?”
“Hah—nobody cared! Up in the stands, the fans were packed together, cheering on the home team and spilling nacho cheese sauce on each other.”
“You mean dozens of people were gathered in one place, all at the same time?!”
“Not dozens—thousands! Tens of thousands!”
“You really are a senile old prune, aren’t you?”
“Somebody get me my teeth.”
Nathen, the 2-year-old, has taken a liking to old photo albums. He likes looking at photos of himself surrounded by family members, including the familiar and immediate three, as well as the grandparents and aunts and uncles. The collection goes way back, of course, to when his old brother (the teenager) was a little boy, and wearing clothes that Nathen now claims for himself. It’s quite a history, really. Expeditions across the country, birthday parties, mini golf, horseback and pony rides, farm and zoo animals. The greater world seems to agree that the Old Life will resume, at some point, when the virus abates, and I dearly hope they’re right.
“The Bunny Rabbit Show” presents scenes from a stage show (songs, dances, acrobatics) performed by a troupe of 10 rabbits—9 full size, 1 pee-wee who is their emcee and lead singer. The audience is mostly chickens, with the occasional cow, duck, and sheep thrown in for no explored reason. Nathen likes the page where the rabbits walk in formation across the stage, holding colorful balloons. They sing, “We are 10 terrific rabbits who like to dance and sing. Ten terrific rabbits who can do most anything.”
I highly recommend the book. It’s very encouraging.
That’s all I got. If you (the reader) happen to be a physician, nurse, or other health-care professional at work in a hospital or clinic—you have my full support and gratitude, and please do stay safe. Let me know if you need anything from me. I’m not sure what that would be. But let me know anyway.