The VW Thing. What was it? Who drove it? Where did it go? I miss, you, Thing.
Even though "thing" is the junk drawer of words, the word has distinct yet individually recognizable meanings to me when spoken by different family members in my house. I hear a different word depending on the speaker even though that word has the same "thing" sound, more or less. My five year old has the remnants of difficulties with the "th" sound so there is a little bit of "sing" in his "thing," but I'm not referring to variations in enunciation.
When my five year old, referred to in this blog as Racer A, uses the word "thing," it is either a placeholder for a new vocabulary word he has learned but has temporarily forgotten, as in "What's that thing called? Ummm, a crosswalk? Yes, a crosswalk, that's it!"or a reference to some silliness I previously invented while acting like an idiot, as in "Can we do that thing we did yesterday, that thing where you talk in the weird monster voice and ask if I have any corn for sale?"
When A says "thing" there is no harshness or distress, just a kind, relaxed, contented curiosity. Racer A's "thing" is a hypoallergenic kitten with a charming look of curiousness. His "thing" is a kitten that even professed cat haters like.
Not with the almost-three-year-old. "Thing," from him, has teeth and claws, and this thing's matted, clumped fur will definitely make you sneeze as it is clawing your eyes out. "Thing" for Baby G only refers to something his brother has that he wants or something mom took away for safety reasons, and "thing" is usually shouted. Example: [Racer A is wearing an oven mitt] "Give me that THING!! That's MY Power Glove!!" Or: [Mom has taken away a curtain rod, one of the tension kind that squeeze in between the window frame] "I want that THING!! It's mine!! That's MY sword!!"
How can that be the same word? Those "things" are like identical twins where one is angelic and the other is the bad seed. For clarity, I'm talking about the word "thing," not my kids.
With my sixth grade son, "thing" is almost always in reference to some topic of emotional discomfort. "Thing" from him is a verbal incarnation of a hissed whisper. Example: "Dad? Remember that thing we talked about yesterday? You know, that thing, that I said I didn't want to talk about but I did? That thing?" The word "thing" from Racer Z is so different from the same word from his brothers that it doesn't even get a kitten or cat metaphor, or even a dog metaphor, for that matter. "Thing" from Z, if I needed to give it a metaphor, is an envelope in a safe deposit box, without mews or barks, which really don't belong in safe deposit boxes anyway.
"Thing" from my wife is yet again different. "Thing" from her induces a Pavlovian conditioned sigh from me, of which I swear I'm going to uncondition myself. I swear. "Thing" refers to any event, device, situation, product, program, topic, new research finding, Internet meme or kitchen gadget she is thinking about when speaking to me. "Remember that thing we saw yesterday?" * SIGH * "What THING?"
My oldest son, who is 22, has his own apartment and has never been given a blog pseudonym, simply doesn't say "thing" and seems to only use specific words. If he said "thing" then it would likely be "Thing" -- as in the animated hand from the Addams Family or the car at the top of the page.
What is interesting to me is that my word associations don't cross over between family members. I don't sigh when A muses to himself about "that thing we saw at the grocery store," any more than I smile when G rants about that "thing" that apparently belonged to him since time immemorial. The word is customized to the individual like a Google ad, except effective.
So what about me? What does "thing" mean from me? It depends. Are we talking James Arness, or the John Carpenter remake with Curt Russell? I'm not even mentioning the 2011 remake. I just don't see the point. Probably the 1951 version. Like the "Thing" at the top of the page, I just think "Things" look better in black and white.
Thanks to Phil Pekarcik for, you know, the Thing, the photograph of the Thing? That Thing.
Posted by S Joseph at 11:32 PM
Another GTO on Daddy's Tiny Cars, having previously featured a '67, '69, and '70 GTO as well as a '66 GTO Wagon, not a "true" GTO, but part of the family. I love my tiny GTOS, and like a boomerang, I keep circling back to them.
Speaking of which, I dug out my actual boomerangs yesterday and took the kids to a local school playground and baseball field, empty for President's Day, to practice throwing those crazy circling pieces of wood.
I'm not any type of hardcore boomerang person, but I find boomerangs hopelessly cool, and I have two decent ones I've had for more than ten years that were handmade by a boomerang maker in Michigan. My boomerangs include a short range right-handed boomerang and a mid-range left handed one.
Didn't know there were left- and right-handed boomerangs? Neither did I most of my life, possibly explaining why my red plastic Wham-O! boomerang never even considered coming back to me when I was a kid, no matter how many times I set it free. That thing never even soared -- just sadly flopped through the air before landing in a patch of nettles or some dog poop. I, of course, was left handed, a condition largely unrecognized by teachers in the 60s and early 70s, and if teachers weren't going to acknowledge the existence of left handers, my cheap little boomerang certainly was not going to, either.
See it turns out the bevel on a boomerang only works its magic when the boomerang is thrown the correct way by the correct hand, common sense aerodynamically speaking, I guess, but something you probably wouldn't even consider before reading about boomerangs or being told. When you finally get the throw down, however, witnessing that smooth, unearthly arc, and, even, more gratifying, finally catching the boomerang, nears the sublime, and doesn't itch as much as nettles.
President's Day in Ohio was sunny, and, after weeks of being cooped up as a result of being sick or caring for sick kids, I quickly became good pals with that sun. All three of my kids practiced throwing the boomerangs, and, having left-hand and right-hand persuasions, I helped everyone, even the youngest, to get the things to actually do something, if only a little. We had fun, everyone laughed, and no one even got beaned in the head, even if I did avoid a near miss from a throw from A by a lucky duck of my head. Racer A did manage to get a boomerang stuck in a basketball net, but for some reason, again probably the sun, that struck us all as tremendously hilarious, and my oldest son was able to knock it down with a ball.
Boomerangs, however, were only part of our playground day in a juice-box-on-the-picnic-table kind of way, where the kids did other things but then every so often would run back to take a few sips of the boomerang.
At this particular playground there is a small alcove with a sign that reads General Store above a type of serving counter window. There is a small dinner bell next to the window.
Tthe two youngest zoomed in on that window as their ice cream and hot dog stand and were soon pushing each other to try to take center stage in the window to take orders. The five year old kept telling Baby G (almost 3) that he should work back in the kitchen, an important and fun job, but G wasn't having it, and eventually the two kids reluctantly fell into place beside each other taking orders, their shoulder slam pushes against each other gradually lessening to state of cooperation.
"Can I get you something, Sir?" asked the A.
"Yes, can I have a hot dog?"
"Sure," answered A. "Can I get you something to drink? We have everything: lemonade, Coke, milk, soy milk, Pepsi, rootbeer, whatever you want."
"Okay, can I have a lemonade?"
My son disappeared through the woodchips to the kitchen and returned sighing. "We're out of lemonade."
I ordered a milk instead, trying to set a good example instead of ordering an imaginary soda. I took turns placing varying orders with each of the young kids (I was playing all the customers, you see), and on my fourth visit to the store A said excitedly that they now had sushi and it was delicious.
I ordered a sushi, which it turned out A thought was a drink.
I drank my sushi under the bright sun and in the cold air. Delicious. Then helped baby G throw the boomerang, who was then joined by my older son Dre.
A perfect day.
-- neither here nor there footnote --
When I think boomerangs I always think of my favorite movie, 1987's Bagdad Cafe, where the boomerang flying through the sunset scenes become a character in the movie for me. I couldn't find the exact scene I wanted to include, but here is a collage of scenes from the movie with two quick glimpses of the boomerang and one of the best movie songs ever. Enjoy.
Thanks again to Phil Pekarcik for yet another GTO pic. If you would like to follow these pictures and are doing Pinterest, follow the cars of Daddy's Tiny Cars on my Pinterest feed: http://pinterest.com/nickadizzy/daddy-s-tiny-cars/.
Posted by S Joseph at 10:38 PM
Today I gave my wife the heart-shaped box of Malley's Chocolates (a Cleveland, Ohio favorite) I had picked up last week, as well as a very cool vintage 1930s Valentine's Day card I had previously ordered online.
Wait. I'm not sure you're grasping the significance.
Let me re-emphasize the important parts, and those parts are not Chocolates or card.
No, they are:
Last week and previously ordered
This is huge, and while unsung and unrecognized, remembering and taking care of Valentine's Day a week, or in the case of the vintage card, weeks in advance, is not something I remember to do in the best of weeks.
The past three weeks have been anything but the best of weeks, too. Since Christmas, my wife has had two separate surgeries, bronchitis, and a cold, and has been stuck in bed more of the time than not, I have been to the emergency room once, as has my youngest son, and for two solid weeks I have been struggling to breath with a rather nasty respiratory condition and a bruised rib from severe coughing, that on top of a run of the more traditional barfiness, fevers, stomach aches and eye and ear infections that visited my kids this January and February. Oh, and I turned 49 last week.
My pre-planning, however, is not amazing because of the illnesses or because of the cold puddle water splash of realizing I only have one year left of my 40s. No, all that aside, for me to be on top of Valentine's Day even if I had been glowing like a toaster coil with good health, is rare.
I'm not proud of it, I'm just saying.
After dropping my son off at pre-school this morning I rushed home, proving I could not possibly have had time to stop anywhere else, and gave my wife the chocolates. I didn't even take off my coat. Sure, it was 9:50 in the morning, but I was making sure there was no doubt that I had not run out on Valentine's Day, even if that meant Valentine's Day chocolates for breakfast.
It was like getting a homework assignment done early. Ahhhhhh.
Strangely, my wife didn't seem to understand the urgency, but I'm sure that's because of her recent surgeries, poor dear. Otherwise, I'm sure she would have been doing a pirouette or maybe even a cartwheel, and I've never seen her do a cartwheel. I guess she just didn't have any spin in her, but I'd like to think she spun a bit inside.
In the spirit of full disclosure, I hadn't planned so far ahead to actually have a Valentine's Day gift for my wife from the kids, although my oldest had helped me pick out the chocolates. That I did today.
Later in the afternoon after picking up Racer A from school, we stopped by a grocery store to look for a Valentine's gift.
"Hey, what about some Pepperidge Farm cookies?" I asked, seeing the giant sale display of cookies by the automatic sliding doors of the store. Sure it was the first thing I saw, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a good idea. It's not like I suggested driveway rock salt.
"Umm, those are good, but I like to eat those. I think I want something else."
"Okay," I said. "Let's look around inside."
We went inside the store, and, after visiting the ATM machine, we headed into the shopping section.
"Hey! I got a great idea!" my five-year-old said. "How about some flowers!"
"That's a great idea," I said. "Here are some. What about these?"
My son looked at the flowers, tilted his head thoughtfully, and finally said, "I like flowers, but they just get all brown and droopy and dead. I want to get something else."
"Fair enough," I said. "Let's look around."
My son stopped, and looked at me with a sudden determined yet very inspired look on his face. "I want to get Mamma something she likes but that I don't like so she knows I got it for her."
I was floored. That was one of the most wonderful things I could have ever imagined him saying. His concept also embodied a concept some adult men never grasp who continue to give things like flat screen TVs or table saws to their wives for Valentine's Day.
In the end, he decided to give her some "fancy cheese," and special ginger ale (the kind that comes in the four packs). He smiled up at me, holding the cheese, a small triangle of green-laced sage derby cheese. "I would NEVER eat this, but I bet Mom will love it."
"I know she will," I said. "I absolutely know she will."
And she did.
You may be asking, then, How does a green Holden tiny car fit into this blog? You may be saying, The Holden is Australian. Do they even celebrate Valentine's Day in Australia? Finally, you may even wonder, Why didn't you pick a red car for Valentine's Day, instead of green, the color of envy?
The answer is, I didn't plan ahead, but I know you'll be more forgiving than my wife would have been had I forgotten Valentine's Day. And whatever. It's a great car, so just go with it.
I'm just glad to be Holden it all together.
HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY, EVERYONE!! EVEN YOU FOLKS IN AUSTRALIA!!
Valentine's Day Holden picture courtesy of Phil Pekarcik.
Posted by S Joseph at 12:01 AM
Goodness, Friends ...
Illness has hit our household, hard. High fevers, respiratory problems, pink eye, coughing ... it's been a week of this, too.
My wife and I are evaluating if we need to take the youngest in to the emergency room, so week 74 marks the first post that I'm going to have to more or less skip -- 73 certainly came close.
So, instead, enjoy some Jonathan Richman from 1977 and watch a 45 spin while he sings Roadrunner.
Until next week...
Photo courtesy of Phil Pekarcik
Posted by S Joseph at 10:47 PM