Before the boozing starts.

The weekly newsletter from Kate’s school arrived the other day, and took note of how disappointed the teacher was that so many children flunked the first spelling test. This wasn’t the case with our student — coff, coff, 100 percent, coff — but all I can say is: She better be getting perfect scores. The other day I heard some bad language rising from our basement playroom, not from Kate, and I mentioned it later, after everybody left.

“I heard Jayna use a swear word,” I said. “I don’t want to hear that around here. Would you say something to her about it? It’s not a big hairy deal, but just say something. It’s a bad habit to get into.” (Believe me, I know.)

“What word was it?”

“We don’t need to get into that,” I said. “You’re old enough to recognize a swear word when you hear it.”

“Was it the one spelled D-I-P-S-H-I-T?”

As a matter of fact, it was, but what does a parent say at this point? Here’s what I said:

“Yes. Excellent spelling, by the way.”

Mommy’s little longshoreman.

I’m writing this early in the afternoon Sunday, because I seem to have a problem staying sober later in the day this weekend. Our friend Dr. Frank is in town this weekend, back from Madison, Wis., where he recently moved. Since he doesn’t have a house anymore, he threw a cocktail party for a few friends at the country club Friday night. (Oh, how I love to say to my sitter, “We’ll be at the country club if anything happens.”) Last night was Rockin’ Docs, the event he returned for. It’s a music fest in which bands of doctors indulge their fantasies of being Mick Jagger. Never have so many kind souls suffered through so many bad covers for such a good cause. (This year: The free clinic and a couple of cancer charities.)

Frank’s band, Frankie and the Bananas, is the best of the lot. They have a few standout moments, including “Wipe Out,” which features Alan’s allergist on drums, who is quite good. They also have a great introducing-the-band riff: “And on guitar and vocals … Fort Wayne’s only forensic pathologist … his patients never complain…” The best was some years ago, when the band’s sole lawyer, one of the best defense attorneys in the city, was called out thusly: “If he’d been James Brown’s lawyer…he wouldn’t be in jail today…”

I think the allergist was introduced as “the king of itch, the sultan of sneeze.” Can’t remember exactly. (This was later in the evening.)

And now it’s Sunday. Another beautiful day we probably should be spending at the lake, but it’s so beautiful I don’t even care. Took two long, long bike rides today and yesterday, penance for the drinking that didn’t feel like penance. Yesterday I did my Crazy Lady With a Plate in Her Head act again. It was the golf carts. Again. In the park closest to our house, the walking/biking path encircles a small, par-3 golf course, used at least in part by lazy buttheads who believe the people on the paved path are being tolerated by generous duffers, not the other way around. They’re not supposed to drive their carts onto the path, but they do anyway, and it makes me insane. I suspect some of them are drunk and are paying zero attention; I’ve seen many near-misses. My absolute favorite is when they hit their ball so far out of bounds that it goes across the paved path, and then they drive the goddamn cart across the path so they don’t have to walk more than eight inches to actually hit the thing.

Sometimes they actually park the cart on the path to do this. At times like this I’m glad I don’t carry the pepper spray I’m always meaning to buy for self-defense, because someone would get a faceful.

It looks as though, when it comes to fishkeeping, our family has a dry thumb. The guppies started dying a week or so ago, Cheetah and Rainbow and, heartbreakingly, Small Fry. Now we’re down to one. That would be Lightning, who’s been moved to a bowl because evidently her tank is toxic. Also, we suspect she may be pregnant, although the way things have been going, the black dot in her tummy is probably cancer. Alan, fed up, did what he always does: Fire up the internet and throw some money at the problem. Now we’re “shocking” the tank with plants and ammonia, waiting a week or more for the nitrates to go up, or go down, or go wherever they need to go. Evidently you need a chemistry degree to keep guppies, which came as a surprise to me. So much for all that “hardy little fish” crap. Hang on, Lightning.

And now for Sunday’s drinking, off to a nearby Mexican restaurant to lift a margarita in farewell to a colleague, whose last day was Friday. I stopped in at a doughnut shop at 4:45 a.m. Friday for the traditional last-day sendoff of grease and sugar. A retail establishment is a strange place to be at that hour, and when the doorbell rang as I was paying and I looked up to see who was entering, my heart fluttered a bit in alarm. The man was African American, and I chided myself for sublimated racism, until I figured it out: He was a dead ringer for Avon Barksdale, the evil drug lord at the center of “The Wire.” Which starts its new season Sept. 19.

(How did that paragraph go from margaritas to “The Wire”? It’s a mystery to me, too. We just make this stuff up as we go along.)

Bloggage: Gene Weingarten challenges the nation’s poet laureate to a duel. Funny.

Posted at 2:06 pm in Uncategorized |

2 responses to “Before the boozing starts.”

  1. Alexander B said on September 12, 2004 at 8:05 pm

    Oh, the stark mortality of little fish! Daughter Anya, six years old, has lost three in succession the last two weeks: Emma (a regular ol’ goldfish, with us two years), her replacement who was never named because she barely survived being dropped into the tank, and dear Joy, white with little red spots, dead in two days. All sent down the toilet with amazingly little fanfare or fuss from Anya. She just wants to go back to the pet store for another. Why, in my day, when I killed a little turtle or goldfish, um, it was not unsimilar…

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  2. deb said on September 14, 2004 at 4:22 pm

    nance, i just want to thank you for telling the “dipshit” story. it absolutely KILLED at the office this morning.

    it’s fun having a smart kid, ain’a? when my oldest was in second grade, his teacher asked the kids to share their favorite words. when it was my son’s turn, he stood up and said: “onomatopoeia.”

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