Saturday, December 03, 2011

SUPERXmas! Days 5 AND 6: It's a SUPERXmas! Miracle. Somewhere in this story, that is.

As I sit and write this, on a rainy Saturday morning, I am listening to the mellow groove of The Little River Band crooning "Take It Easy On Me".

How I went from SUPERXmas! to "Songs You Could Roller-Skate To If Anyone did real Roller-Skating Anymore But They Don't Because Nowadays Everyone Probably Just Has Wii Roller-Skating, and Even As I Typed This I Realized It Made Me Sound Old-Fogeyish Plus I've Lost The Thread Of This Thought" is really a SUPERXmas! Miracle.

Also a SUPERXmas! Miracle? The fact that if you re-read that sentence it is perfectly, 100% grammatically correct.

At SUPERXmas!, miracles are actually pretty easy to come by. Like how now, we're listening to "Lady" by that same group, and I can almost see the Space Invaders game over by the refreshment stand, which is the view I got everytime a slow song/couples skate came on at Skateworld. I never got to couples skate. This song is breaking the heart of 12-year-old me.

Hang in there, 12-year-old me in the past! Someday you are going to marry a hot woman and she is going to listen to this song with you in the living room and it would be very romantic indeed except that Mr F is swinging maniacally in between the two of you so there's no room to dance, let alone make out and pretend you are couple skating!

Anyway, to get you all caught up on my Mad Quest To Make This Christmas a SUPERXmas!, I have stuck to doing something SUPERXmas-y every day, even though I wasn't able to post about it because I had actual work to do.

SUPERXmas! Day 5 was Thursday night, and I gave Sweetie the choice of what we would do that night.

"Watch Elf" she said that morning, and so that was the plan, which, it turns out, wasn't really a plan at all because I'm not sure Sweetie was listening when she said we would watch Elf; I think it was the kind of automatic response I get many times from Sweetie, who has, through the course of our marriage, learned that even I only pay attention to what I'm doing about 40% of the time, and so (I suspect) Sweetie just gives me a random assortment of answers generated in response to my voice, kind of the way Suri does except I don't have to pay $700 to look imbecilic. I can do that all on my own.

Sweetie's most common randomly-generated response is "Mmmmm." It's a noncommittal sort of answer that is the Sweetie equivalent of that little symbol on your laptop that tells you it's loading something. It's neither good nor bad. Sometimes, Sweetie varies that up by saying "Mmmmhmmm," and every now and then Sweetie will give a little chuckle: "Hmhemhme."

, that's spelled correctly. Look it up.

I suspect that Sweetie gives me those comments randomly because sometimes her use of them doesn't make sense, as in this example of what could well have been an actual conversation:

Me: So today a bunch of people were abducted by these big manatee-like things that had lasers, which is weird because if manatees have developed lasers, I don't think they should be a protected species anymore.

Sweetie: Hmhemhme.
Usually, Sweetie's noncommittal comments don't cause any confusion, because I don't actually require people to respond to me when I talk. I just need to talk. If people want to interact with me, well, okay, sometimes, but really I'd prefer it be kept to a minimum. My life is sort of one long ongoing monologue. Or perhaps a voice-over. Only not all Richard Dreyfus-y. That'd be creepy.

But sometimes her noncommittal comments cause a momentary bit of confusion, as with Elf, when I asked her Thursday morning what she thought our SUPERXmas! thing should be and she said "Watch Elf" and I said okay and then went to work and did whatever it is I do there all day. (I really don't know.)

Then, that night, I came home and did whatever it is I do all night, which I don't really remember for an entirely different reason: at work, I don't really pay attention to what I'm doing. At home, most of my nighttime activities blur into a haze of being forced repeatedly to play chase type games with Mr Bunches, who is in a phase where he likes to be chased. We play this game he calls "Tickle Chase," and it's pretty much what it sounds like: I chase him around our house until I catch him and then I spin him around and then I swing him back and forth and then I drop him on to the couch.

It used to involve tickling, too. Hence the name.

Tickle Chase is exhausting, and a little dangerous because there are lots of little throw rugs in our house that can cause you to slip on them, and my center of gravity is located somewhere around the Kuiper Belt. So I've begun trying to cut down on the number of Tickle Chases we do. We used to have to do 10 -- the first time, I'd spin/swing him once, then the second time I'd swing him twice, and so on, which, if you do the math, equals another heart attack for me. (You have to use calculus to reach that result, but it's accurate.)

So I began limiting the Tickle Chases. "We'll do 3," I'd say, and Mr Bunches, who was not okay with that, began upping the ante. Instead of one lap through the house, we'd do two for each Tickle Chase, and then, when I'd say "How many should I count?" for how many swings he'd get before being dropped, he'd say a progressively higher number.

Now, each night, we do only one Tickle Chase. But it is five laps, minimum, and I have to swing him twenty times before dropping him.

And, to make up for the lack of Tickle Chases, Mr Bunches began inventing NEW chases. There are now more chases than ever before. There are vacuum chases, where I have to chase him with the vacuum, which is hard because it keeps sucking up all those throw rugs we have and hitting the cord, and there's medicine chase, where I have to chase him to give him his sleep medicine, and there's one more chase, which is just before we go up to bed, and now he invented, this past Thursday "Got your foot chase" which starts out with us crawling and I try to catch his foot but if I do get his foot he then stands up and I have to regular chase him and that regular chase ends up being almost exactly like Tickle Chase.

So you can see where I don't recall exactly what it is I do on any given night, since on any given night I am more or less running wind sprints around our house, sometimes still in my work clothes.

In between, of course, there is Mr F and Sweetie to attend to, and the like, and on Thursday night, also, Mr Bunches had homework: he had to take a picture of a Gingerbread Man and "disguise it," coloring or decorating it to make it look like something else and take the picture back to school so that on Gingerbread Man day, which is in two weeks but Sweetie made us not procrastinate, they can, I don't know, all be in a room full of Gingerbread Men who don't look at all like Gingerbread Men.

The suggestions were "Make him look like a policeman, or a firefighter" or something else I don't remember. Sweetie came up with "Make him look like a snowman," and so we got out the glue and cotton balls again and we drew a snowman outline and hat and glued cotton balls to the Gingerbread Man and then wrote "SNOWMAN" across the bottom because we (well, I) wanted to make clear that the Gingerbread Man was disguised as a snowman and not a sheep, which he kind of looked like, a little.

With that done, and having chased Mr Bunches the requisite number of times, I was able to give the boys a bath and put them to bed and then went to our room and said to Sweetie:

"Do you have Elf ready to go?"

And Sweetie said: "What, are we watching it in here?"

I said: "I thought it was just us watching it. Did you want to watch it with the boys? Because we'd have to watch it in their room. They're in bed."

Sweetie responded: "No, I ... you'll have to get the DVD from their room and set it up."

Which made me suspicious, as you can gather, that Sweetie hadn't planned on watching it at all, and had just been saying stuff that morning. But we did watch the movie, and it was really good, and everytime I re-watch an old movie, I realize I learned something new about that old movie, and in this case, what I learned was: Will Ferrell's character, Buddy The Elf, is THIRTY.

I hadn't realized that before. He's THIRTY.

I thought maybe Buddy was kind of a young guy, because as a full-grown Will Ferrell he's still in Elf School in the movie, and so I thought "Well, Buddy is, what, 12, maybe 15? and a little naive."

But no.

He's thirty.

Which was really disturbing because the other elves in the movie are all responsible adults. Bob Newhart fixes Santa's sleigh. Ming Ming (I learned that was his name this year, too) the head elf is a supervisor. The elves all have jobs and stuff. It really, really bothered me for a while because I thought maybe there was something wrong with Buddy after all that he seemed so juvenile, but then I realized that Buddy's dad is at least 490 years old -- Buddy tells the mailroom guy that, the mailroom guy who is 26 and who looks at least 50 -- so, I realized, it's okay: Buddy at 30 would be, if Elves live to be, say, 500, only 1/10 through his life, which makes him the equivalent of about a 10-year-old human, since obviously elf culture moves much more slowly, the way Ent culture did in Lord Of The Rings.

I was able to sleep pretty soundly after working that out.

Then! On Friday! We went DRIVING AROUND!

I felt those exclamation points were necessary to liven things up a little, since otherwise "We went driving around" doesn't seem SUPERXmas-y at all, but it was, because we decided that last night we would go over to the really, really, rich part of town -- the part where all the houses are made of brick and stone and most of the houses look like Hogwarts -- and look at the Christmas lights they had put up, even though it was a little early for that and there's no snow yet.

And that was where I learned something about Sweetie and where the SUPERXmas! Miracle! comes in: before we went driving around, I had the opportunity to make toast for Sweetie, who had opted to have just toast for dinner because she had a stomach ache.

"What's wrong with your stomach?" I asked.

"I don't know. Maybe I ate something bad or I started taking vitamins today and that's the problem or I'm coming down with something," Sweetie said.

"What was that middle part, again?" I asked, and Sweetie clarified that she started taking hair vitamins to strengthen her hair, which I didn't even know was a thing you could do. My own hair is weak and clinging desperately to its meager existence on my scalp. If hair were political systems, my hair would be communism. I've been trying to grow my hair out since June, and have had to get it cut one time since then. Actually, I didn't really need it cut that time, either. But I felt like I should do it to encourage my hair to grow a little more, although in retrospect that might have been exactly the wrong message: If you grow more, I'll have you snipped off savagely and swept into a bin. I need to rethink this.

Sweetie clarified that she only took one hair vitamin, even though I suspected she might have taken more to (as I put it) "jump start the process," because in my mind that's how vitamins work. I used to think, too, that if you had to cook something at 350 degrees, but you turned the oven up to 500 degrees, you could cook it in about 50% less time, and I don't know why that doesn't work because the math seems solid, but it doesn't work, no matter how many times you try it.

Here's something I still do believe, though: If you have to pre-heat the oven, as a debate recently broke out on this blog about, then the higher you set the oven to pre-heat, the faster it'll reach the temperature you want. For example: Let's say you need the oven preheated to 350...

...and I'm only humoring you because there's no need to preheat the oven before putting the stuff in. The oven will reach its temperature whether or not you put the stuff in first, and you can help the cooking by putting the things in so that they start cooking at the lower temperatures as the oven heats up. Again: the math is solid on this...

...if you need your oven preheated to 350, then set it for, say, six hundred degrees, and the oven, which takes 20 minutes to heat up no matter what temperature you're trying to reach -- try it out: It's 20 minutes to get to 200, it's 20 minutes to get to 600 -- will reach 350 that much faster. Think about it: If it's 20 minutes to 600, then you're at 350 in, say, 5 minutes and you're cookin' away.

All of this is very instructional but not the point. The point is, I had to make toast for Sweetie and I got out a loaf of bread and put the end piece and a regular piece in and started it toasting and then had this exchange:

Me: You like the end piece, don't you?

Sweetie: Yes. I do.

Me: In all the time I've known you I was never sure if you liked the end piece. You really do learn something about your wife each day.
See what a great husband I am? For 15 years I've been hogging the end pieces, but no more! Unless I forget.

We then later on went driving over to the Super Rich houses and looked at their lights, most of which were pretty nice, and one of which was SUPERAWEXOME:

I felt like there should be a Mall Santa somewhere in there. We drove by the house three times, because even Mr F liked it and he usually doesn't like anything, and I'd have gone by again but I figured by then they were calling the police on us and Mr F had dozed off by that time.

It was during that ride, as we listened to the Christmas Music station, that we heard Dan Fogelberg's Same Old Lang Syne song:

Which most people will say is a New Year's song, but since Auld Lang Syne literally translated means old times gone, or something like that, it's okay to play it at Christmas, and also, it does mention Christmas Eve, contrary to what Sweetie said:

Me: Does that Dan Fogelberg song mention anything about Christmas?

Sweetie: No.

But it does, right in the first verse, so I am on fire today, in terms of "knowing stuff".

Anyway, when the song came on the radio, I said to Sweetie, "here's your song" and I turned it up and let her (mostly) listen to it while I (mostly) didn't say anything, and Sweetie said: "I didn't know you remembered I liked this song," to which I said "I remember lots of stuff about you."

Then we went home, and she downloaded that song and also some songs by The Little River Band. I'm not actually sure how we went from one to the other, but having been what can only be described as The Perfect Husband for upwards of three hours-- and that is the true SUPERXMas! Miracle! -- I didn't question her.

Prior Days:

One: Putting up the yard decorations

Two: Making a Christmas list

Three: Sleep, Actually

Four: How to make popsicle stick (SUPER)Xmas trees, in 437 easy steps.


Andrew Leon said...

We still have a roller skating place in the area. We even go sometimes. And use quads. Because I grew up with quads and can't seem to make the transition to inlines even though I have tried them.

I well remember the days of having to chase my kids around the house. It's not an optional activity at that age. And there was lots of tickling. With "the Claw!" There is still frequent tickling with the youngest. And rough housing. Because she's actually made from flubber.

Pre-heating the over is not about whether the oven heats up, it's about being able to time food that needs to be timed. There are some things that need a specific cooking time, and it's hard to keep track of that when you don't pre-heat.

I probably wouldn't complain if Dreyfus narrated my life; although, I'd rather have James Earl Jones.

Hmm... my word verification is "iwince." I wonder if that's some kind of secret message.

Michael Offutt, Expert Critic said...

I didn't like Elf. However, I did like Anchorman.

Chasing your kids around the house for tickles and/or with a vacuum cleaner sounds exhausting.

I think by grammatically correct you are ignoring the fact that you need a comma before the conjunction that joins another independent clause.

And I do love looking at the houses of the super rich. They are like better evolved human beings. Us pigs that root around in the muck obviously don't deserve the things that they have because we are stupid and lazy.

Nice blog post :)