Thursday, January 07, 2010

News From My Neighborhood: New Year Edition

Ding Dong Ditch the Sweater.  The doorbell rang late the other night, and I walked over to the front door, flung it open (I like to fling things) and discovered... a pile of clothes.  Having been raised on Star Wars, my first thought was that someone had been stabbed with a light saber and then become one with the Force.  But since more recent continuity has made it clear how rare this actually is, I decided to inspect more closely.  I discovered that it was not a pile of clothes, but rather one aqua-colored sweater, with little flecks of other colors spread about in a 1980's style.  All around the sweater were little notes written in a childish hand that said things like, "It's the new year, do what you want" and "here is a sweater, you are welcome."  And I thought about how innovative kids are these days, and so caring, that instead of ringing your doorbell and running away, that they would ring your doorbell, leave you some sort of inexplicable junk and run away.  And I also thought about my Ukranian neighbor, who is very nice, who will reach into his closet later this month and hesitate and wonder, where is my sweater from the 1980's?  And then he will walk outside to get in his car, and look over and see me, and notice how I have a sweater like his missing one, but it looks like it might be too tight, like I have one that is maybe too small for me.  And he will think, I always liked that sweater and the last time I saw it my six-year-old had it, and by then I will be in my car driving away and he will look at my retreating vehicle and think, it is a mystery how clothes just disappear in this country.  A mystery.

The Race Card. When I walk the kids to school it's impossible to say who will join us.  It all depends on how various families are doing at getting the kids ready to leave, and a little thing like eating pop tarts instead of oatmeal can mean that they are walking at a different time than us.  This week a six year old girl and her nine year old brother have been joining us.  The girl told me that she was a much faster runner than her brother.

Boy: I could beat you in a race right now.

Me: Uh-oh, a race.

Boy: C'mon, sis, right now.

 (He sets himself up at a crack in the sidewalk. He is determined.  The girl looks at him and a serious look settles in on her face.  She tightens the straps on her back pack.  And then... BOOOOOM she races past him.  He leaps into action but can't quite catch up.  She completely destroys him by making it to the end of the block a full two seconds ahead of him).

Boy: I was just jogging.  Also my knee hurts.  I twisted my ankle.  You started before me.  I am a faster runner than you.  I could beat you in a race right now.  I'm tired.