Monday, July 18, 2005

Acorns and Oak Trees

Original posting date: 2/22/05. Resurrected for "Regurgitation Monday", in the spirit of summer reruns. Apologies to those who have already seen it. It's also a good one to post after yesterday's Halloween one.

People who know anything at all about me as a child tend to snicker (or snort) when I talk about my kids' quirks. After all, I was kind of...different.

(Disclaimer: I didn't choose the outfit in this picture. My mother thought it was a good idea to dress me up as the Virgin Mary for Halloween. That's right. Virgin Mary. Halloween. Okey dokey. People didn't know whether to give me candy corn or a room at the Inn.)

My propensity for getting cheap laughs started early. Every morning, our first grade class would march up the school stairs to John Philip Sousa blaring from the loud speakers. One day, as we lined up after the music died down, the evil Sister Margaret Angela growled that she didn't want to hear one peep out of us. Thinking she might appreciate the Henny Youngman in me, I quipped "Peep peep!" My knuckles are STILL sore.

My two older sisters were always nervous about having me around their friends because of my disastrous attempts to contribute to their conversations. When she was 16 and I was 7, my sister Loretta invited a date to dinner. (What the HELL was she thinking??) In a misguided attempt to impress this guy and help my sister out, I proudly described Loretta's talent for biting her own toenails. (Hey, I thought this was really amazing!) I could be wrong, but I don't think we ever saw him again.

A few years after the dinner fiasco, when this same sister was entertaining the man that she wanted to marry but who hadn't yet popped the question, I spontaneously regaled them with my Carol Channing rendition of "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend". It's amazing she still talks to me.

I kept collections of my dog's teeth and my father's toenail clippings, and a dead fetal pig in a jar of vinegar. I would happily show all of these to horrified houseguests. When other little girls of the 1960s were learning to crochet, I was learning to handicap. For show and tell, I presented the Daily Racing Form and explained how I was going to make my picks for the 8th race at Aqueduct. Another very unhappy nun.

While I don't think I was suffering from pica, I did eat weird stuff like Purina Dog Chow, kindergarten paste, Play-Doh and Loretta's orange lipstick. Man, that stuff smelled great. And remember...dinner at my house wasn't too appetizing, so Purina Dog Chow was a veritable hors d'oeuvre. (It tasted like Triscuits. Made by the same company. Coincidence? I don't think so.)

Is it any wonder that my daughter was obsessed with The Marx Brothers and Lucille Ball when she was 6, or pretended that her dolls went to The Judy Garland Elementary School? Should I be surprised that my son saves the shedded skin of our bearded dragon and sings along with Tom Waits?

Of course not. And I wouldn't have it any other way.