Sunday, September 23, 2012

Old Schtick for BubbeGoof's Birthday

Over the summer my mom, BubbeGoof, had a very big birthday.  I won’t say how many – it wouldn’t be polite.  But as a gift (because what do you get for the woman who has everything?) I vowed to stop making fun of her age.  This has not been easy for me – but I have persevered.  When GoofBoy had a project on Westward expansion I DID NOT tell him to call Bubbe and ask her about the Conestoga Wagons.  When GoofGirl was learning about the Ice Age, I DID NOT tell her to call Bubbe and have them ask her about the weather when she was little.

They made those calls on their own initiative.

So we threw a big party for my mom.  Friends and family were there and my brother and I prepared a presentation – some gentle schtick.

In the car ride up, the little Goofs announced that they wanted a role.  MamaGoof suggested maybe they could give a short speech in Hebrew.  No one else there would actually know Hebrew, so they could say anything, but it would be touching nonetheless.

The little Goofs wanted to do something lively, not just deliver some birthday greetings.

“OK,” I said, “This is one of the oldest sketch comedy bits in the book.  GoofBoy, you will give a speech in Hebrew.  I’ll translate.”

“Daddy, you don’t know any Hebrew,” GoofGirl pointed out.

“Right, that’s part of the joke – just listen.  My translation will be part of the joke because it will obviously have nothing to do with the speech.  Then, when I give the signal, you will push me out of the way and say, ‘My Daddy doesn’t know Hebrew! What my brother is really saying is…’  Got it?”

“OK,” the little Goofs nodded.

“When you do this bit, one of the jokes is the speaker will give a really long statement and the translator will just say a few words.  Then, at another point the speaker will just say a few words and the translator will go on forever.  It is an old bit, but it always works – I think Aristophanes used it.  Got it?”

“We got!” the little Goofs affirmed.

“Good, because we’re here.”

We had a delightful birthday brunch.  We brought a smile to BubbeGoof and her many friends.  But most of all, the little Goofs nailed it!  Almost no prep time and they did it perfectly!

Afterwards, we all went back to Bubbe's to swim at the condo pool. I told the little Goofs this was the after-party - where the real action happens.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dogs are Great, but not for the Goofs

GoofGirl has clearly overcome her concerns about dogs.  We recently spent a week in Albuquerque visiting my sister-in-law - the much loved Tia C.  She has a dog, Mottsie and two cats.  Despite taking the kids to see natural wonders and sites of great antiquity, the highlight for them was playing with the dog, petting the dog, and just generally being around the dog.

Since our trip, GoofGirl has done little but talk about her “cousin.”

The dog, by the way, has bonded with the children.  During a phone call with Tia C, GoofGirl said hi to Mottsie.  Dogs don’t really understand telephones (in fairness I don’t either, but I know what they do.)  But when Mottsie heard the GoofGirl’s voice she did the only thing she could think of – she grabbed her toy and started looking for her playmate.

“A dog would be great for home security,” the kids point out.

At one point, MamaGoof and I had a night away (in Santa Fe) leaving the little Goofs with Tia C.  Tia C ran some errands leaving the little Goofs on their own for a bit.  At one point, when GoofBoy couldn’t find his sister, he assumed a monster had broken into the house and grabbed her.  (Perhaps reading Lemony Snicket to them hasn’t been the best idea.)  So he grabbed Mottsie and did a full room-to-room search confident now that he had a powerful ally at his back.  (Turns out GoofGirl had gone to read in a corner.)

“A dog could really help clean up!” the kids insist.

One of the cats had a hairball.  The little Goofs, not cat overly familiar with the ways of cats, were horrified but then fascinated when Mottsie dutifully trot over and lapped it up.  If a dog would do that, what cleaning job would it possibly refuse.  I don't want to know what scenarios the little Goofs were imagining.

Unfortunately, while I love dogs, this visit convinced me that we will not be getting one ever (not because of the throw-up thing.)

At every instant that the dog saw me it looked at me with its sweet giant eyes and said, without words, “Do you want to play?”

Then I’d play for a few minutes and go back to what I was doing (probably reading old National Security Council transcripts).  But the dog just continued to look at me.  No amount of playing was ever enough for her.  I don’t need another mammal in my house begging for attention.  I’ve already got the two little Goofs.