Terms of endearment

Last night my son was snuggling with my dog, my dog who despite his puppyish face is middle-aged, and my son felt the slackness of my dog’s skin, and in a loving, cooing voice, he said: “Ooo, you’re so flabby, you’re like an old man who spent the pandemic eating Doritos and watching Succession.”

Why Must I Sing This Morrissey Song?

I’m in a play at the local community theatre, in a role that requires me to get slapped in the face by my wife. In stage combat (I learned), if you’re getting slapped in the face, what’s actually happening is the person who’s slapping you is miming a slap in the region of your face, and you’re secretly clapping your hands and then bringing one hand to your face. Anyway, the way I do it, it feels like I’m slapping myself.

The other night we had to repeat the slap again and again, to make sure it looked legit. And as we were doing it, I was thinking: “Tonight I learned to slap myself repeatedly.” Which I was so pleased with, because it sounds like a song by Morrissey.

Every child is a teacher

My daughter was telling me about a story she’s writing. The other day she wrote 1,000 words; she had even written an outline. “An outline!” I said. “That’s unusual.” She and I are not, shall we say, planners. I praised her for doing something she doesn’t usually do.

And then I did a thing that parents often do: I opened up a Socratic dialogue. “Outlines can feel a little rigid, right?” I said. “On the one hand, they give you structure. On the other hand, they might constrain you.”

She wisely had no use for this line of thought. “No no no, it’s not like that,” she said. “An outline is like a stake in a garden, and your little pea plant grows around it organically.”

I spent three years in an MFA program for creative writing, righteously dismissing the idea of outlining a story. If I had had one professor who described the value of outlining the way my daughter did, I would’ve become a better writer. Lesson learned.

In which my son finds his voice

My son has a wee cold that has made his throat scratchy and his voice ragged. He has also been watching King of the Hill and reading about yokai, creatures from Japanese folklore. Which explains why this morning he told me his voice sounded like a cross between Bobby Hill and a mountain hag.

The marriage plot

Ate lunch at a local sandwich shop and sat two tables away from a married couple. The husband was 99 years old; the wife was ten years younger. A sample of their conversation:

Woman: We have the TV Guide.
Man: No.
Woman: Yes. We have the TV Guide.
Man: No!

Man: Where are we going after this?
Woman: To Reny’s, to look for slippers.
Man: Nappers?
Woman: Slippers!
Man: We don’t need slippers.
[Silence, then:]
Man: Do you want to drive around town?

[As woman clears their table, balancing a soup bowl, utensils, and an unfinished smoothie in her hands:]
Man: Don’t break your neck. Don’t break your neck!

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