Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks
Sunday, April 30, 2006 Cabin Fever
Last weekend, CorpKitten was in town. The weather was beautiful the whole time. On Saturday, she hung out with M. Small outside while Trash and I did some overdue yard work. Then on Sunday we ate at the Uptown (outside), tried to go to the zoo (too late), then to the other zoo (too crowded), picked up a treat at Dairy Queen (slow as hell), ended up at a park by the University (a lot like the park by our house), and then went to Q. Cumber's , and so on.
The weekend before that, we were in Iowa, visiting Trash's mom for Easter. She helped us look after him, including going with us to the park a couple of blocks from her house. Trash and I even went out on a little date Saturday night. After M. Small went to bed, we headed out to the olde tyme drive-in ice cream shoppe a few blocks away. Sadly, we didn't get very far, because in the dark and the rain, Trash stepped off her mom's new patio wrong and did something to her ankle. Any ice after that point was pressed against her leg. The good news is that she might not have to have surgery.
The weekend before that, I was in Vegas with the folks from Television Without Pity. Trash had to cancel at the eleventh hour, due to a dental emergency. M. Small stayed at my mom's for Friday night, then came home on Saturday. I was home by Sunday afternoon, but it was still far from a full weekend.
And the weekend before that, Trash and I went to Mexico. M. Small stayed here in Minnesota, which, given what I discovered about the quality of Mexican sunscreen, is probably a good thing.
This weekend, we had no plans whatsoever. Nowhere to go, nothing to do, no one to see. For the first time since March, it was just us family, here at home. And it was weird.
We would have liked to try for the zoo again, but it rained all weekend. Walking and the park were similarly out of the question. But now that it's no longer the dead of winter, M. Small gets a little stir crazy when he doesn't get to leave the house all day. I'd put on my shoes to take out the garbage and I'd hear this insistent chattering of "Car! Car go bye! Bye bye car!" coming from about knee level.
So I took him to the mall.
Not the closest mall to our house, and not the biggest one, either. There's one in a southwestern suburb that has a play area for little kids right outside the Kohl's. We only happened to know about it because it's right near where he got his first haircut back in December. So after his dinner, I loaded him up in the car and off we went.
I needed new tennis shoes anyway, as I could tell from the fact that just walking across the wet driveway had saturated my left sock like a sponge. Once M. Small and I got to the mall, I quickly acquired new footwear and found my mood instantly improved. After one more stop to pick up an early Mother's Day gift for Trash, it was off to the play area.
M. Small was less than fourteen months old the last time he was there. It was a bit much for him then. Now, at 18½ months, it's a little more his speed, although I still have to stay close. That's on a normal day. But this was a rainy day, with any number of other parents having brought their kids there from lack of other options. In other words, it was busy enough that I wasn't sure we should stay. I decided to leave it up to him. I took our shoes off, brought him into the walled-off play area, and put him down next to a canoe. He jumped up and down, screaming with laughter at all the excitement and noise and kids around him (many of whom were younger than he), then ran off to climb on stuff, with me following close behind.
With all those kids around, I really noticed for the first time how tall he is for his age. You can take him to the doctor and hear "ninetieth percentile for height," but bringing him to a public place and seeing him tower over two-year-olds is another thing entirely.
The other thing I noticed is that M. Small doesn't really have a complete grasp on the concepts of speed and trajectory yet, which meant that I had to stay close to snatch him out of the way of other kids hurtling by once or twice. On one occasion, I was on the phone with his mom when a six-year-old in a red sweatsuit clipped my kid at top speed, bowling him over. Now, I'm relatively new at this public-play-parenting thing, but I know I was within my rights to holler at the kid to slow down. I was still holding M. Small and calming him down less than a minute later when the same kid ran by again in the opposite direction, having completely failed to slow down. I'm pretty sure I still would have been within my rights had I stuck out a toe and sent the little fucker into a thirty-mile-an-hour faceplant, but I wasn't quite in range. M. Small quickly recovered from his little trauma and nonverbally asked to be put back into the mix. I kept one eye on him and one eye on Red Sweatsuit Kid for the next minute or so to see if I could figure out who his mom was. But then I quickly figured out that his mom was the pissed-off lady who caught him and dragged him out of there, haranguing the whole time. And if it wasn't his mom, hey, not my problem. Maybe when he's being sold into white slavery he'll think to himself, "If only I'd slowed down at the mall play area."
It's not like I expect the world to leave a bubble around my child, in which he can do whatever he wants. I stopped him from trying to climb up the slides, and made sure he didn't hog the little jet-ski he liked sitting on. And when he's six years old, I'm going to make sure he doesn't run around a crowded space filled with toddlers at full speed. Much like his mom did.
But a red sweatsuit? In public? Forget about it. posted by M. Giant 8:52 PM 2 comments
Hey, we had our first do-nothing weekend in ages, too, and it was disconcerting. Sam gets squirrelly when he's indoors for too long, too.
Heh, my daughter is in the 25th percentile and can hold her own. I pretty much let her handle it and move in only when it looks like she's either going to verbally tear the other child a new one or wallop them back. Any problems and Bean just fixes the other child with a cold stare and states, "You are not nice. I won't play with you." As an adult, that has little impact. To a small child, crushing blow.
Wednesday, April 26, 2006 A Walk in the Park
As I've written before, our local salad bar/buffet restaurant, Q. Cumber's, is a little tricky when it's just you and the toddler. Another adult makes it a lot easier. Three's even better. But as I learned this weekend, four grown-ups are ideal.
CorpKitten was in town for the weekend, and we decided to have dinner at Q. Cumber's. Which is perfect for M. Small, because there's a ridiculous variety of food there (even if all he really wants is a big bowl of peas); you don't have to commit him to any one menu item; and, as we discovered on one trip when he was wriggling too much beneath my overcoat, we don't even have to pay for him to eat. Splendid!
So we arrived, and CorpKitten and I immediately went to the salad bar to load up, while Trash got set up to feed M. Small his dinner (amusingly, both CorpKitten and I brought him a bowl of peas, entirely independently of one another). Two members of our party ate while the third fed the fourth, knowing that her turn to eat would come soon. And for once, she wouldn't have to bolt her meal in order to get finished before M. Small ran out of patience with his high chair and tried to turn into his own ejector seat. Because at about the time he was done, I'd be taking him down to the park behind the restaurant, and Trash would eat at her leisure with the newly-arrived Bitter.
"It'll be perfect," I said, "Because I won't have to worry about motor traffic. We'll just have to look out for the piano."
CorpKitten thought I was referring to some imaginary cartoon catastrophe, but I was talking about an actual piano. See, this park is (or was, years ago) frequented by an old guy who'd mounted an upright piano on wheels and attached some bicycle components to the frame so he could pedal around behind it while playing. He did the steering with his ass, I think, and he wasn't all that great at pedaling and playing at the same time. Of our friends, only BuenaOnda and I ever saw him, and when we tried to tell people about him, nobody ever believed us. Which put us into a weird, Snuffalupagusian place for a year or so, until he was profiled in the newspaper. And now I can't find the link, and considering how old he was back then, he's probably dead now. Even disregarding his age; an upright piano's wider than the narrow little bike lanes on the streets downtown, and I can just see him getting clipped by a passing truck and perishing in a mass of crashing chords. M. Small and I didn't see him the other night anyway, so it's not really relevant.
So anyway, this park. It's not your average city park. It looks like a facility that was built by either the malls that Q. Cumber's is part of, or the giant condo complex that would back up to the malls if the park weren't there, but it was in fact built by the city, as a bit of cursory research has told me. It's this over-designed river-walk type arrangement, except the river is not so much a river as a long, narrow pond, and it's not so much a pond as a geometrically irregular concrete tank (which M. Small wanted to hop right into, of course), and it's not lined with shops for fleecing tourists. It's landscaped up the ass, with fancy sidewalks circling around for miles. But easily my favorite part was the "lawn games" area.
Ah, the lawn games area. There's a sign on the edge of it saying its for croquet and lawn bowling only, and no other activities are allowed. And once you step onto the pitch, you can see why. It's about a square mile of the shortest, flattest, greenest, most perfect grass you've ever seen. It could almost be mistaken for really expensive Astroturf, and I decided that the few yellow spots were left there intentionally to prove otherwise. M. Small loved it, of course. I decided to define "no other activities" rather narrowly; specifically, as "tackle football" and "NASCAR." In any case, what damage could a year-and-a-half old toddler do just wandering around on the grass with his dad?
None, actually. I'll just defuse the suspense right now. I quickly realized that this was the ultimate childproof space. Nothing to trip over, nothing to fall on but soft, spongy ground, nothing to steal or break or put in his mouth, no swingable-at-groin-level weapons of any kind. All he could do was try to pry up the heads of the automatic sprinklers, and even that was quickly abandoned as futile. Even though I was the only adult responsible for him, we had the whole vast space to ourselves, and after holding his hand through the whole rest of the park to prevent him from chasing the model boats, I could now let the distance between us stretch to five, ten, even twenty feet. There were no hazards in sight, and visibility was excellent. Even if M. Small were to be approached by an escaped sex offender, or a suddenly-appearing sinkhole, or a chunk of green ice falling from a 747, I'd have plenty of time to react and snatch him to safety. So I just relaxed, hung back, gave him his space, and let him chase after the sparrows. Trash and Bitter took their time eating, while CorpKitten hung out with them at the table and I wouldn't have minded if they'd taken longer. Another bonus: you just know that after all that running around, M. Small slept that night like a dead thing. I'm totally bringing him back there one day soon.
Of course, the place will be completely ruined for both of us the day he catches his first bird. posted by M. Giant 8:40 PM 6 comments
Wow, I need to find a place like that for us. Every day, our 13-month old son find a new drawer or shelf that he can reach and plunder.
I love your way with words, M. Giant.
You know, you are a great writer. I don't think you have ever told us how you started writing. Have you always been a writer? Who inspired you to start? And most importantly, have you ever considered writing a book about M. Tiny? It's a great story, and you would already have chapters or entries from your blog. Sorry if this sounds to strange.
Ah, but the day he proudly lays that dead bird at your feet will be the day he become a man. Or a cat. Whatever.
I can't decide if I'm proud or slightly mortified that I have played bocce on that lawn, paddled a paddleboat (and of course, tried to drive through the big fountain) and played mini-golf there. Wow - what a blast from the past!
For the strolling pianist, try googling "Jim Shannon" and "Centennial Lakes".
Saturday, April 22, 2006 The Show Must Go On
There are a lot of reasons why we love M. Small's day care provider. Chief among them is the fact that he loves it too. On weekday mornings, if we're taking too long to get out the door, that's when he busts out his one sentence, in its many variable forms:
"Go! Car go bye! Hurry car! Bye bye go car go hurry car bye!"
So we're confident that he likes going to day care.
But another reason we like our day care place is for the shows they put on. You heard me.
The oldest kid at day care is four, and M. Small, at eighteen months, isn't the youngest, or even the second-youngest. And yet a couple times a year, the day care lady will dress them up in elaborate little costumes and have them put on little shows in the living room of the house. Obviously these are "shows" in the loosest sense of the word. M. Small's first show was last year's Easter show, when he was only six months old. Led by the day car lady, the other kids sort of sang songs and recited nursery rhymes. M. Small's part was to stand there in his Excersaucer and wear a bunch of different hats. He totally sold it, of course.
Then there was the Christmas show last December. It was the first show where M. Small was old enough to actually stand on his own while performing. I have video of the whole performance. Mostly it shows M. Small running up to me, and, when he wasn't doing that, running up to his mom. There are few things cuter than the fourteen-month-old version of stage-diving.
So the Easter show was a couple of weeks ago, and we were hoping that he'd be a little more up to the task this time around. After all, this is one of the most outgoing kids either of us has ever known. How could he not love showing off in front of his mom and dad and all the other parents? From what we heard, the kids had been practicing for weeks. M. Small must be looking forward to this as much as anything,
So we showed up right at five, and waited outside with the rest of the parents while the day care lady set everything up. Then she called us inside, and all the kids were in these adorable litte quasi-Victorian outfits. M. Small, for example, was in knickers and stockings with a little ruffly shirt and velvet vest. He must have been so excited.
Except the moment he saw us, he figured it was time to go. He's going through a phase where he likes his routines, and it kind of threw him for us to show up at day care and not immediately bring him out to the car and take him home. We tried to get him to rejoin the other kids while they did their show, but all he would do is cling to Trash and say:
"Go! Car go bye! Hurry car! Bye bye go car go hurry car bye!"
While also crying.
So yeah, I have video of his last show. I spent a lot of time panning back and forth between the kids in front of me (including the babies, whose parts consisted largely of having their hats changed a lot) and M. Small of to my left, telling Trash to hurry car go bye already. Eventually she had to take him outside while the other kids did their thing. And the funny thing is that every once in a while, he'll do some little snippet from the show he wanted no part of, and we don't know how to tell him, "Sorry, dude, show's over."
We're hoping that by this year's Christmas show, when he's two years and change old, he'll be a little clearer on the concept. How are we supposed to be obnoxious stage parents if he won't even stay on the stage?
Today's best search phrase: "Bottle shaped air mattress." Well, that sounds comfortable. posted by M. Giant 9:29 PM 1 comments
Hmmm, prone to infantile behavior and emotional outbursts? Seems he's ready to be a celebrity now. (Isn't that pretty much alll Lindsey Lohan does these days?)Just keep encouraging that behavior and he'll be a star in no time. Imagine how proud you'll be when he's screaming and throwing phones at PAs for bringing him the wrong size latte.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006 Some People's Kids
One day we were changing M. Small, and suddenly he was lying there perfectly still, his arms tight against his sides, just looking up at us blankly. It's hard to describe just how odd that looks when a three-month-old is doing it, but you might get an idea when you keep in mind that at that age, a baby barely has arms, let alone sides. With us as his parents, we knew he'd have to turn out a little weird. But, as Trash said, "I didn't think it would be so soon."
And still he continues to find new ways to entertain us, like the way he opens up his mouth like a happy Muppet for kisses, and how you absolutely cannot get his brand-new toy mop away from him without a screaming fit (we just hope that people who see him with it in public assume that he thinks it's a sword) and how much he loves jumping up and beating on the computer keyboard randomly just like I do.
So of course we're always wondering how his...um...originality will manifest itself next, and in five years, and in eight years, and in high school, and so forth, until he's a weird old man, which I will be bummed to have to miss on account of being dead.
So then this weekend we hear about this other kid. It seems that he'd written a report about his dog that included the sentence, "My dog is special because he pees milk."
I don't know how exactly how graphic the report got, but from what we heard last night, it's accurate. Apparently this dog is given to spontaneous doggy erections and doggy orgasms, leaving puddles of "milk" around the house a couple of times a month. This only started recently, and the dog is too old to be fixed at this point. They brought him to the vet, who simply diagnosed him as the luckiest dog in the whole world. Not helpful.
This isn't the first time the parents have been called into the office, of course. He was about five when his parents were told about the story he'd written called "How My Parents Made Me Be a Boy." It was all about how he wasn't always a boy, was originally a girl, and didn't want to be a boy, but his parents made him a boy, and now he was a boy. All his parents could say in response was, "...uh...it's not true."
We're going to be keeping track of this kid as he gets older, just we can have an idea of what to expect. Even if it's only to expect the unexpected. posted by M. Giant 9:28 PM 1 comments
I don't have kids yet, but to me, this has got to be one of the best parts of parenthood -watching your kid grow into the little weirdo they were meant to be.
Friday, April 14, 2006 So in case you're clicking over from here (and it looks like everyone is)...
So later a bunch of us are in the Westin's restaurant, having some of whatever you call that meal when it's four a.m. and you've all been downing beer and wine and liquor for almost twelve hours, and dinner, while splendid (despite Glark's dark warnings that "Dinner is for closers"), was eight hours ago? That meal.
So we're sitting around the drunkfast table, wondering what Wesley Snipes has to do to get 86ed from Mandalay Bay, and I speculate, "Because he would always bet on black," and pamie instantly goes into this whole scene where Wesley Snipes is running around wagering on everything black in sight, including the word "black" on the blackjack table until they finally tell him, "I'm sorry sir, we'll have to ask you to leave."
The sun never sets on the snark in Vegas. posted by M. Giant 4:41 PM 0 comments
Wednesday, April 12, 2006 Fix Your Wagon
M. Small and I didn't have a very nice walk yesterday evening.
I blame it on Mexico. If you've ever been there, you know that there are always people walking up and down the beach, hawking stuff. You could spend millions of pesos a day and never get up if you wanted to. This suited us fine, because we wanted to get something to bring back for M. Small. We selected a plastic figurine of Batman, suspended below a little plastic parasail and attached to a spool of string so you can fly him like a kite. We had seen Mexican beach vendors flying them all day, and it looked pretty easy.
So then we get home with the thing, and take it to the park with M. Small. Now, theoretically you want some wind on a day you're going to fly a kite, but we failed to take into account the fact that we don't have any experience wrangling a complicated assembly with a dozen strings coming off it while part of it is trying to blow away, and it turns into a tangled mess. Not for the first time, we wonder how the Mexican beach vendors do it, and the little para-kite goes into the kid's wagon in a wadded-up ball.
That's not even what happened yesterday.
No, that happened last week, and I wasn't even there. Trash was the one who had tried to break it in. And then on Sunday after I got home from Vegas, M. Small and I went to the park and I tried to untangle it and launch it again. Same result. Maybe I could have accomplished more inside, out of the wind, without M. Small speeding away from me at a dead run every five seconds and forcing me to stop, catch him, and start over, but we don't live in a perfect world, after all. I did manage to get the thing in the air for a few seconds, but the strings were still kind of twisted and Batman didn't look like he was parasailing so much as he appeared to riding a gallows. Probably just as well that M. Small didn't appear to be remotely interested in it. I wound it up and back into the wagon it went.
You notice I keep talking about the wagon. Yes, he's riding in a wagon these days. And no, it's not one of those cheap ones that are basically made out of a foil lasagna pan attached to the chassis from a Matchbox car. This is a Radio Flyer, all wood and metal with knobbly rubber tires. It's a sweet ride. M. Small loves it, probably because unlike his stroller, I don't have any way to strap him into it. He calls it his "car."
So last night, we get to the park, and I notice that one of the wheels is dragging. There's a weird noise coming from it, and Batman is pressed against the inside of one of the side panels at a very weird angle. Yes, M. Small has pushed out a loose string that has now gotten wrapped around the axle, and we're not going anywhere.
Okay, I figure, I'll just squat down and unwrap it. I'll snap it, if I have to. Wrong. This is Mexican thread, not approved in the United States because if you yank on it hard enough you'll just cut off your damn finger. And it's wrapped around that axle so tight that about a dozen loops of it look like one solid piece. I'd start cutting, but we're three blocks from home and I forgot to bring my machete on my walk in the park with my toddler.
But there's nothing for it but to try to untangle the mess. M. Small doesn't feel like sitting in the wagon when it's not moving, so I have two choices: let him fall and hurt himself trying to climb out, or take him out myself and put him down. Which create ideal conditions for me to work on fixing the wagon, as long as I don't mind doing it in five-second stretches between chasing him down and bringing him back to out home base.
Even that wouldn't have been so bad, except that at about the same time we came up lame, a guy had driven up, gotten out of his car, sat down on the grass, and put in earphones. I know, you're thinking, "So what? Dude had earphones. He's fine." Except he wasn't just listening to music. He was meditating or something, doing all these weird arm motions and singing along in a language and melody that couldn't have been more unfamiliar if I'd heard them on Star Trek. And here I was, stranded nearby with this kid who kept screaming past him. Literally.
M. Small [Excited screaming]
Me: Come back here. [Pick up child, carry back to wagon]
M. Small [Indignant screaming]
Repeat for a half hour. And it's not like I could scoop up the kid in one hand and the wagon in the other; like I said, it's a solid piece of workmanship. I was almost wishing for one of those lasagna pans on a Matchbox chassis after a little while, one that I could fold up and stick in my back pocket. I could have called Trash to come get us in the car, but she was (a) doing homework, and (b) all but crippled after having oral surgery an hour previous. Calling her to my rescue would have made me feel like a cad. I might as well ask her to wrangle the jack and the spare tire for me.
Eventually I just gave up, stuck M. Small in the wagon, and hauled it home, hoping I wouldn't pop the tire that was dragging on the pavement (which actually started reluctantly turning again after a block, though not as fast as the others). Impatient with the poor time we were making, M. Small kept trying to stand up, forcing me to invoke the rule that if he stands up, we stop and I sit him down again. Which may in turn force me to create a new rule, namely that he rides in the damn stroller from now on.
Anyway, we eventually got home, and Trash watched him happily run around the yard chasing bubbles for a while as I hacked away at the string with a steak knife from the kitchen. Eventually I freed up the wheel, and gave him his last brief ride of the evening as I brought it around back and parked it in the garage. And he only stood up twice the whole way.
Naturally, Batman went as far away from the wagon as I could get him. I'm tempted to put him in the Trash before he disables the stroller as well, but for some reason I can't yet bring myself to do it. I don't know why. The kid prefers his Mexican Slinky anyway, and that hasn't gotten tangled up in anything worse than the phone cord.
Today's best search phrase: "Plastic baggie domination." The scary thing is that I can almost imagine how that would work. posted by M. Giant 9:31 PM 4 comments
You're putting Batman in Trash?
That was very amusing. I can actually visualise that as I have a (very quicky growing) toddler myself. She will be three in June 06, she's a bit wild too.
My wagon has a seat belt, but I'll be damned if I can find it on Radio Flyer's site. It is just like the one you described, but it has a piece of plastic rising from the back and a little seat belt attached.
Upgrade to the Radio Flyer Pathfinder Wagon.
Sunday, April 09, 2006 Honeymoon over Vegas
BuenaOnda's wedding in Mazatlan last weekend was actually only the first of two weddings I would be attending this past week. I just didn't know it at the time.
I'm not exactly up to date on the latest trends in wedding ceremonies. I know last weekend's was cool. At the other end of the spectrum, there's the option of just hopping on a plane with your beloved and eleven of your closest friends, and getting hitched in Vegas.
Or at least I thought that was the other end of the spectrum, but as I was flying to Vegas on Friday morning, I learned that there's something beyond the end.
Somewhere over Arizona, one of the flight attendants came over the PA to announce that two of our fellow passengers, Jessie and Dan, planned to get married in Vegas this very weekend. They'd brought eleven of their friends along, and then we were all supposed to applaud or something, like no one's ever done that before. Whenever I get on a plane to Vegas, I just assume that there are at least four engaged couples on board as a matter of course. So, you know, good on you, Jessie and Dan, but also to the other three or more couples who weren't being all "look at us" about it.
But then another announcement came over the loudspeaker, that there was a minister on board, and if Jessie and Dan wanted to save a little time and money in Vegas they could take care of it right here at 37,000 feet. There was a brief debate between a couple about half a dozen rows ahead of me, and they said something to the flight attendant, and the next thing I knew a white-haired guy was making his way down the aisle from first class. Dan and Jessie stood together in the aisle before him, he pulled a little reference card out of his pocket, talked inaudibly (from where I was sitting, two inches from the tail engine) for a minute, and then Jessie and Dan kissed, to the applause of most of coach, as we passed over Bryce Canyon, Utah. Particularly supportive were the guys in the party who now would not have to take a five-minute break from ordering up dial-a-hookers during their weekend. And then, of course, nobody could get into the bathroom for the rest of the flight.
As Wing Chun pointed out later, there were a few legal questions that I hadn't considered. Like what about the marriage license and so forth? Is the minister licensed to perform marriages in Utah? Are Dan and Jessie only officially married when they're at cruising altitude? These are the things I should have looked into. And Wing has actually officiated a wedding, so she knows a lot more about it than I do.
So anyway. I don't have all the details I should have collected. But there may be a tackier way to do a Vegas wedding, but I think that going any further would bring it around again to awesome. Like maybe getting married while jumping out of a plane over Vegas itself, preferably in light-up Elvis costumes. If I see anything like that on my next trip, I'll be sure to tell you about it. posted by M. Giant 9:18 PM 4 comments
Weirdly enough, my parents just came back from Mexico and two flight attendants got married on their flight. That was planned in advance though; they even had champagne and cake for the "guests."
Am I a bad person for secretly hoping this Dan guy will make a comment, all, "Hey not fair our love is puuuuure!"?
The bottom line is that at the end of that ceremony, Jessie and Dan were not legally married, because, as you pointed out, they almost certainly didn't have a license issued by wherever they happened to be at the time it was performed. Assuming the white-haired guy was actually a minister, then he was almost certainly legally able to perform the marriage, but without the license, it's just a wedding. So unless a) Dan and Jessie secured a marriage license before boarding the plane, or b) were able to pick up a license at McCarran -- and Las Vegas being Las Vegas, I'm reluctant to rule that out -- they're going to have to do it all over again in front of a judge. Still, it's a nice story if you gloss over the details.
All I ever get on my flights are screaming kids & bad food
Thursday, April 06, 2006 Seeing Red
Being descended as I am from a race of bog people whose melanin-deprived offspring rose from a sunless island somewhere in the North Atlantic, my natural skin tone isn't what you'd call bronze. Combine my genetic head start with my lifelong love of the indoors, and I end up a shade that's kind of a blue-green. I've always been self-conscious about it, even the first time Trash saw me naked:
"Why are you so self-conscious?"
"Because I'm so pale."
"You can turn the light off if it bothers you."
"It is off."
So naturally, on those rare occasions when I go a long period of time with nothing between my alabaster complexion and the sun but a little atmosphere and ninety-three million miles of outer space, the results tend to get ugly. Here then, is the story of the great sunburns of my life. A portrait in red, if you will.
During my teen years (and tween years, before they were called that), my family used to go up to a resort on Bowstring Lake in Northern Minnesota the last week of July. You think of Northern Minnesota and you think of cold, but I think of hotter weather than we had in Mexico last weekend. And a lot more mosquitoes. In any case, even then I spent a lot of time in the cabin reading, but I still spent enough time swimming in the lake that it would be one week at the resort, and then one week on my bed at home wrapped in wet towels. Eventually mom started encouraging me to swim in a t-shirt, then in a hat, then I started college and quit going before I had to start swimming in pants.
Trash used to think that I could get tan if I just got some sun. In her world, you either tan, or you burn and then peel and then tan. She never believed me when I said I started out white, then went red, then peeled back to white again. After this summer, she believed me.
We spent an afternoon canoeing down the St. Croix River. Funny thing about that: it was a sunny day and an aluminum canoe, so the sun not only fried me from above, it simultaneously reflected up and cooked me from below. I was like a rotisserie chicken without having to spin. Easily the worst sunburn I ever had. When we got home, Trash made me spend the whole evening steeped in a bathtub full of cool water and Lipton tea bags. She made me apply aloe vera gel liberally for the entire next week. After the peeling finished, my legs were, much to my astonishment, darker than ever before. Rather than their usual, bioluminescent white, one might almost have called them a listless shade of taupe. I began to wonder if there weren't something to Trash's theory about peeling to tan after all. Or maybe I had just been dyed by the tea.
After 1996, only the second time I'd ever called in sick to work for sunburn. Go ahead, laugh. See how your boss likes it when you show up in a condition that precludes pants.
Spent the Fourth of July weekend at my bandmate's parents' house, hanging around by the pool and the hot tub in hundred degree weather, trying to hurry up and read my book before it melted. Tried to recreate the success of 1996. Except for having to apply liberal amounts of aloe vera gel, was unsuccessful. Should have tried tea bags again.
My third trip to Mexico. I'd never burned there before, probably because Trash is always so vigilant about keeping me laminated in stuff that comes in a bottle labeled "SPF" with a whole bunch of numbers after it. This time I only used SPF 30, a milky liquid thinner than Ranch dressing, because that's all we had. And then I sat at a table on the porch next to the hotel bar. I was facing east, with the bar to my left, so when I sat down in the morning the sun was to the right and in front of me. When I got up an untold number of pina coladas later, the sun was to the right and behind me. Despite having reapplied throughout the day, I was pretty well lobstered. Monday we flew back, the most physically uncomfortable four hours I've ever spent in an exit row, and then when I showed up at work on Tuesday, everyone was like, "Does the sun only shine in one side of the sky down there?" My nose and the right side of my face were glowing angrily. The worst spot was the right side of my forehead, right at my hairline, which made me really glad that Trash had shot down my idea of shaving my head if Sars had raised $35,000.
So now my face is peeling, just in time for me to make the scene in Vegas tomorrow. So money. My legs and arms haven't peeled yet; they're still half-crimson, and not radiating pain simply as a result of existing. Although if I were to, say, bark my right shin on a bed frame about now, I'd probably hop to an emergency room and demand that the damn thing be taken off.
This is just in the front, of course. While I'm in Vegas, I'll be sure to block off some time to lie on my stomach on the hotel roof, just to even things out. And also have room service bring me a crate of Lipton.
Today's best search phrase: "what can a white liquid be from a cat that has been fixed and leaving sweat spots? +cat -"white liquid" OR sweating." As Trash put it so eloquently in the subject line of the e-mail she sent this to me in, "Gross. and missing the point of Booleans." posted by M. Giant 8:06 PM 13 comments
Its sounds like you and I have the same skin tone. I'm incredibly pale as well. Like to the point people are apparently concerned when they first meet that I might have consumption. Here's the kicker: I'm half Hispanic. So I'm suffering alone at most family bar-b-que's
My family is Irish-Danish. That's some pale skin, right there, and I'm [i]still[/i] the palest one. My mother says that when I was born, you could trace my veins from my heart to every one of my extremities. My sister (a natural platinum blonde, who takes after the Danish side) calls my skin tone "neon clear".
Hearing these makes me want to tell all MY sunburn stories. But I won't. I've got some good ones as well. I'll drop by one of these days to share...
Ouch... painful sunburn stories. A quick cautionary follow-up... I have Scandinavian ancestry, and am consequently blond and pale. My skin also doesn't tan, and since I've never liked the sun, this doesn't bother me much... but late last year (I'm 38), I developed nodular melanoma on one arm (this is the really nasty skin cancer that kills you if you don't find it fast enough). I now have an 8-inch scar that makes me look like I was in a bar fight, and am also missing a couple of lymph nodes under one arm -- but I was very lucky, and caught the cancer before it metastasized. The doctors tell me that people of my background are more likely to develop this than other folks, and also that they believe 3 bad sunburns before the age of 18 contributes... I can only remember one bad sunburn (top of my feet) as a kid, so I'm assuming that maybe I'm just REALLY sensitive to sun. Anyway, I'm 38 and lucky to have caught my problem in time -- the damn tumor was unpigmented, too, and didn't look anything like most of us civilians expect skin cancer to look. Just wanted to encourage you to be really, REALLY careful about keeping your kids covered/screened (as I'm sure you already are), since they may share your skin type... sunburns today can cause major problems later in their lives. And regardless of how much time you spend in the sun, given your skin type, it's a good idea to see a dermatologist at least once every two years for a general check. Thanks for the hysterical 24 recaps!
I'm glad you mentioned sunscreen in at least the last episode. I was concerned that you'd never heard of it.
oh I am so with you... I am a mutt who mostly looks French except for my LOVELY Irish skin. I burn. Period. When I was little and I'd do something silly like go to a friend's house and try to swim in their pool WHILE THE SUN WAS STILL UP and I would come home glowing and my mother would baste me in Vinegar water which supposedly took the "heat" out of the burn but I think was really just a method of punishing me for getting burned in the first place.
My family background is Danish/Norweigan so, yeah, pale. I have burned to the point of blistering twice in my life and that sucks! The last bad burn I had was in January. I saw my doctor for something unrelated and she said pale people need to apply SPF 40 or more 30 minutes before going outside and every 20-30 minutes thereafter. Yeah, that leaves time for fun!
You should try Sooth-A-Caine from Banana Boat, it works great. It has aloe, which you're using anyway, and Lidocaine, which will help dull the pain.
Liek someone said earlier, with a history of bad burns you should really have an MD check out your skin. It's so easy to end up with a spot or two of skin cancer, which (if caught early) is easily fixed. So you should probably get to the MD STAT!
Irish-German decent here. I bioluminesce as well. On my trip to Key West I lathered up well in SPF 1000. EXCEPT for the tops of my feet. I didn't realize I was in trouble until the shower water hit them and the screeching began. The rest of my trips to the beach that trip were in my bathing suit plus socks. SEXXXXXY.
I (as you can see from the sig pic) don't have the white/red/peel/white thing going on myself, but my sister was WHITE as this page for the first ten years or so of her life. She actually suffered sunstroke as a baby and was highly sensitive to heat for many years. The sun is NOT good for people in any large doses, regardless of their skin tones. Yes, I can run around all day and not get burned... but the UV rays? Still harmful.
I grew up on a street with an actual albino child. The only way people could tell us apart was that I had red hair and she had white hair. The Scottish and the Welsh should not mate. I had skin cancer at age 7. --Sayer
I'm incredibly pale, and my mother, the Sunscreen Nazi, keeps us all in SPF 50 at all times. She's really pale and has had skin cancer twice, so every minute of sun exposure to her is an opportunity to tell another cautionary tale. Even my best friend calls me albino and in high school not being tan is like riding the short bus. I've had some horrendous sunburns when I've spent like 5 hours out on a boat in the middle of a lake without reapplying. I've found that Neutrogena makes this great stuff called After-Sun. Or you could just invest in a large gallon-size bottle of aloe.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006 Run for the Border
I couldn't tell you how many times I've flown on a plane in my life. I've probably flown every day of the week, and every month of the year. But I don't think I've ever flown on my birthday, or any other major holiday. Until this weekend. Now I've flown on April Fool's Day. Remind me not to do that again, won't you?
Our old friend BuenaOnda, who moved to Chicago four years ago and then moved to Mexico City a year or two after that, got married on Sunday. Her uncle was generous enough to fly us all down and put us up in his Mazatlan hotel for the week, in ocean-view rooms, no less. The only problem was that we couldn't stay for a week. Trash's office was moving to a new building, and they couldn't spare her for more than a work day. And leaving M. Small with my mom for a week wasn't really something we wanted to do, nor was carrying him on an airplane for a four-hour flight. So we ended up flying down on Saturday evening and coming back on Monday morning.
Funny thing about a Saturday evening flight to Mazatlan: it's a rather different atmosphere on board than, say, a Minneapolis-to-Detroit hop in February. I soon realized that I wasn't on a plane, but a bar that had been rolled up into a tube and launched hundreds of miles through the air. With little kids inside. I was a row ahead of the mother of a six-month-old and a five-year-old, and I would have wondered how she would have reacted to hearing the comment, "I can't wait to get drunk and pass out." I say I "would have" wondered, which means I "would have" wondered about her reaction if she hadn't been the one saying it. I can only assume that she's not breastfeeding.
Trash and Bitter were two rows ahead of me in the exit row, while I sat in my aisle seat a couple of rows back working on my laptop (note to my seatmate: thanks for your rapt interest in what I was working on. Buy the book!). So we both witnessed what happened to the people in the exit row behind theirs: they got cut off. The flight attendants claimed it was because they needed to be in reasonable enough shape to do exit-row-passenger stuff in the event of an emergency, but we were under the clear impression that they'd passed that point a few tiny little bottles ago. "Don't worry, we'll take care of you," they assured the rest of their drunken group. I decided that if the plane did catch fire, Trash and Bitter could go out through the hatch next to them. I'd be going out the back, because the people between me and them would turn into human Molotov cocktails.
Once we landed, the flight crew did something I've never seen before: they unloaded the plane from both ends. Which I thought was a great idea, at first. But it's not so good if you're right in the middle of the plane, because it means you're the last to get off, and all of the drunk idiots are going to get to the Customs desk before you. And they've got a week or two here to look forward to, so they get all leisurely-chatty with the Customs officials. Trash and Bitter and I, meanwhile, are getting more and more frustrated with the glacial pace of the two (count 'em, two) lines, because we've only got thirty-eight hours in this country before we're wheels-up again. Oops, make that thirty-seven. I wish I were kidding. One gets a rather warped perspective on time when one flies one time zone west on the night before Daylight Savings Time. You get an hour, then you have to give it right back. And give it back again when you fly home. Add in the hour we spent in line at Customs and I was feeling a little rooked.
But it ended up being all worth it, even with the cab and airport shuttle drivers taking turns trying to scam us at the airport curb. Because less than an hour later, we were at the poolside bar of beautiful hotel/resort on the Mazatlan beach, listening to the waves crash in the dark while we saw BuenaOnda for the first time in about a year. The Coronas and Pacificos were cold and plentiful, our rooms were perfect, and the next day we had nothing to do but roast in the sun until evening.
The wedding was beautiful, of course -- an informal affair on the beach at sunset with the guys in cream linen suits and the bride barefoot -- and the music and dancing afterwards were outstanding, which also made it worth it. Trash and I went up to bed early -- before one o'clock -- because our taxi was coming to take us to the airport at 7:30 the next morning. Basically, we never left the hotel grounds between arriving and leaving, but we were there less than thirty-six hours.
Which brings us to another reason it was worth it. If you fly down to Mexico from Minneapolis and come back a day and a half later, no way are you going to be flying back with the same drunken assholes you flew down with. You're flying back with hungover, sunburned assholes, and entirely different ones. And they're in no mood to get chatty with the American customs officials on the way back in.
Happy wedding, BuenaOnda. We wouldn't have missed it, and we wish you and English the best. posted by M. Giant 9:46 PM 1 comments
Sorry you didn't get more time in Mexico. I live in southern Oaxaca and y'all are welcome anytime! We have drunken fools in my pueblo as well, but they're Mexican ones so the Spanish makes the babbling sound so much nicer.