I think I weigh 300 pounds today. Our weekend was a mad dash to Chicago to see friends, and so it consisted of five hours in the car, one hour in hotel, two or three hours of dinner, sleep, two or three hours of breakfast, five more hours in the car. There wasn’t time for anything else, but it was good, if you like eating and driving, and I always like the first and usually like the second. If nothing else, it’s good to see a beautiful, thriving city from time to time.
We crossed the Mitten on a winter weekend because our friends from Turkey are back in the States for a while. Fatih was a Knight-Wallace Fellow and his wife, Idil, was the smartest of the spouses. She learned Russian in eight months while we were there, yes, zero to fluency in eight months. She thought she should learn because of all the Russians in Istanbul these days, and also they were planning on having a baby soon, and Russians are the go-to nannies, the way West Indies natives are in New York City. She did indeed get pregnant in Ann Arbor, had some minor complications that made her doctor forbid her from long plane trips in the third trimester, so they stayed an extra couple months and had the baby in Michigan. When they returned, Idil interviewed nannies in Russian.
Fatih told me that for something like $300 a month, you can hire a college-educated Russian woman — if you’re lucky, even one with an M.D. — to be your nanny. “Wouldn’t a woman with a medical degree feel a bit overqualified for child care, and perhaps resentful?” I wondered.
“No, you want one with an advanced degree so you know she’s not a prostitute,” he said. Oh.
So now Idil is pregnant again, and they’ve elected to give birth in the States again. To take advantage of the Greatest Health-Care System in the World? No. So that their daughters will have matching passports. Good thinking. We always knew Idil was smart. Between learning Russian and otherwise exploring Ann Arbor, she took some grad-school entrance exams, too, just for the hell of it. She got a perfect score on the math sections, and close to perfect on the writing. That really bugged her. “What is a nine-letter English word that means ‘talkative’?” she asked.
I thought for a minute. “Garrulous,” I said. She smacked her forehead as though she’d forgotten who George Washington was. Their 5-year-old speaks four languages fluently. She’s going to need dual citizenship, once she grows up to take over the world.
You’ll want to watch out for her. She’s blonde like her mother, a Tatar.
There’s nothing like spending time with ambitious international cosmopolites to make you feel dumb. We went to breakfast with the Bordens and Carpenters, and mostly talked sports and music, but it was smart sports-and-music talk. I learned about Bill Wirtz from Borden, and more from Wikipedia:
Wirtz died at Evanston Hospital on September 26, 2007, following a brief battle with cancer. …During a tribute and moment of silence for him during the Blackhawks home opener on October 8, 2007, the Chicago crowd displayed their displeasure with Wirtz’s operation of the organization by booing the proceedings.
Man, hockey fans can be tough.
And of course this weekend we watched a bit of the Olympics. I have very few strong feelings about the winter games, except that all that trick skiing is silly, but then, luge is pretty silly, too. Speed skating is my life’s great missed opportunity; it’s the one sport I’m truly fascinated by. (I followed the clap-skate discussion closely, a few years back.) Very Hans Brinker.
And, of course, the speed skaters have Stephen Colbert on their side.
In some ways I hate February in Olympic years; there’s too much on TV. This week, I’m going to have to choose between Westminster and the games. I hope nothing good in Vancouver is opposite the terrier group.
So how was your weekend? Bloggage? Not much:
The Alabama shooting case gets ever-weirder. Hello, Professor Crazypants.
With that, I’m off.