Thursday, November 18, 2004

I am Manilow, and I write the songs

The parents went to go see The Manilow last night. It was my gift to Pop for his birthday. The parents are hardcore Barry Manilow fans. Or, at least, my dad is. My mom confided in me recently, "Well, you know, I go for his sake. He's the real fan."

So the parents went to the show, and the rugrats stayed with me at Casa de TeacherDave. This required minor housekeeping in the two days leading up to the concert, but I got 'er dunn, as Larry the Cable Guy would say.

(Editor's Note: I'm not a huge fan of so-called "blue-collar comedy," but it amuses me from time to time. But please don't make the assumption that because I'm from Texas, I ever have or ever will "be a redneck." Homey don't play dat.)

So yes, the "sistren" came over. We ate cheese pizza. We watched "Elf," which, for all it's cheesiness and saccharine qualities, still has some really funny moments, because Will Ferrell totally commits to the character. The overflowing earnestness of his performance turns an overtly embarrassing role into a rather well turned-out one.

I tried to get the little sister to sleep for a while before we all had to go pick up the folks. (We decided against the "parking near the concert venue" plan in favor of the "Dave drives them to and from" plan. I didn't really get a vote.) But the little sister, who is a very intelligent almost-7, would have none of it.

She's the most neurotic first-grader that I've ever met. I don't remember having so many worries and insecurities when I was in first grade, and I was a year younger than everyone else, so I got the age discrimination bit, on top of it all. ("You're only 5, so you can't be on our team." Bastards...) But she worries about everything. What if this happens? What if the concert venue (she doesn't yet know the word "venue", but I'd give another year tops before her vocabulary exceeds mine at her age) explodes in a fireball and we can't get to them? What if there's a fire at the apartment? What if there's a flood?

Thank God she's not interested in politics, or she'd be popping ulcer meds along with her juice box at lunch.

Okay, I made up the fireball bit earlier. But she worries about the most random stuff.

This is how our conversation went. Almost word-for-word.

Scene: Dave's bedroom (take it easy); little sister, undercovers, looking at the ceiling; Dave, sitting bedside, consoling.

Dave: Come on, what's wrong? Why are you upset?
Sister: [choking back tears] Well, we're like an hour from my house, and my parents are far away.
Dave: They're just down the highway. Twenty minutes away, really close. {This was a bit of a fib, but I try to avoid arguing relative distance with almost-7-year-olds.}
Sister: But that's really far. {Told you she's sharp.}
Dave: No farther than if they were at the movies and you were at home.
Sister: ...
Dave: [thinking] Ha! Got you there!
Dave: So what else is going on? How's school?
Sister: We have tests all the time. About stuff that we learned all the way back at the beginning of the year.
Dave: That's kinda the way it's set up. What you learn now is based on what you learned earlier. What you will learn next year in second grade is built on what you learn this year. That's how the system works.
Sister: But we've already been in school 67 days.
Dave: That's a lot of days.
Sister: And I had to stay after school today.
Dave: Why? Oh, yeah, your "Heart Healthy" thing, right?
Sister: It's called "Healthy Hearts."
Dave: Right, sorry.
Sister: And we had to play basketball with baskets that were really high. Like, over the roof, high.
Dave: Were you in the gym?
Sister: Yeah.
Dave: So they were like regular-sized baskets?
Sister: ...Yeah.
Dave: [Thinking] Ha!
Dave: So that didn't go well?
Sister: Yeah, but then we did the over-under activity with the basketball.
Dave: Where you pass it to the person in front of you or behind you?
Sister: Yeah. And I got hit in the face.
Dave: Ouch.
Sister: That's the second time in two days.
Dave: Sorry, yo. ...What is it with my sisters and face injuries? {Teenage Sister has a long history of getting hit in the face with things, from shoes to books to brick walls. It's kinda funny actually.}

From that point, it kinda devolved into sibling goofing around. Pretending to be asleep, fake snoring, poking in the ribs, that sort of thing.

Then I got up and said that I had to get a drink. Left her in there for about five minutes, and checked back in on her. Again with the waterworks on the verge of overload. She's really insecure about staying at other people's houses. It's weird.

Anyway, I finally let her come back into the living room and lay on the couch, whilst I was instructing Teenage Sister on the heyday of Christian alternative music, compared to today's mass produced rap-core worthlessness. I think I ranted about the greatness of Dear Ephesus' "The Consolation of Pianissimo" for about five minutes. Then I dropped in Ghoti Hook's "Sumo Surprise" and revelled for a while. She was not impressed.

We listened to MxPx "Life in General" on the way to the arena later, and she still wasn't into it. I don't know how I failed her, but I did. All she wants to listen to is T-Bone, John Reuben, KJ-52, and Toby Mac. I don't know.

(Editor's Note: In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I do own or have in the past owned music by each of these artists; but I like to think that I'm now a little more well-rounded musically, than I was in the past.)

The parents had a great time. Pop got an "Ultimate Manilow" DVD. They said the seats were great, and it was a fun night. Which made it all worthwhile.


I don't even know if there was a point to all this. Just file it away as "slice of life" and carry on.

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