Monday, August 15, 2011

How the Maestro Soothed the Savage Beast

The Baby was exceptionally choleric this weekend. Her voice transmitted in a steady whine- following us throughout our chores- a drone which filled the rooms. She laid her ill temper upon all of us until it settled with a burdensome weight on the last nerve. She continually pawed and groped at us to perform for her- to amuse, engage, entertain, distract. The five of us took turns running through our catalog of diversions- setting up her toys, drawing with crayons, dancing, playing music, taking a long walk, taking her to the grocery store, reading books, singing songs, giving her a bath.  We pleaded with her to speak English so that we could understand what troubled her- especially during the hours between 8PM and 1AM when she should have been asleep but instead howled like a wounded animal until we came to rescue her. She was fine. She just wanted to be close to us. And  then, Princess Commando came into our bed at 1 AM with a head ache. We were too tired to send her away- despite the painful understanding that she likes to sleep the short way on the bed- making an H with our bodies and forcing us to the edges of the mattress.

On Sunday, we were dragging- heavy, sore, irritable. And we were trapped indoors by a dark curtain of rain. The Baby woke without the slightest acknowledgment of the acrimonious behavior of the prior night. She powered through the morning- climbing over our half dead bodies which fell about the living room floor. Fortunately, she was agreeable to the offer of an afternoon nap. Her little body must have known it needed to catch up on sleep because she slept for 4 hours. Our own exhaustion urged us to succumb to the radical idea of allowing her the extended siesta which encroached upon the dinner hour. We knew full well that we would pay for it with a delayed bedtime. And pay for it we did when she woke in a renewed state of vexation. The Mr. who had been working on a freelance project through out the afternoon was beginning to peter out at 7:00. He began to mumble incoherent and inappropriate responses to my simple questions.

 Me: "Do you have any laundry that you want me to do?"
The Mr: " Potatoes."
Me: "Oh, no, you don't. You are not abandoning me now, Mister! We are in this together. As long as she is awake, we are awake!"

We needed one last diversion. The television had been quiet all weekend. In order to make it through the next hour, we needed to arouse its magic. "I can't listen to Yo Gabba Gabba tonight," The Mr. pleaded. We opened the cable menu. The Public Broadcasting Station was highlighted. "Hit select," I instructed. "No. Really? No, " he responded in disbelief. And, then his wheels were turning, too,"Okay, if you think it will work."

The wholesome images that filled the screen, the corniness, the garish costumes, the circus peanut and cotton candy colors, the squareness, the champagne music- it was almost too much to bear. But, the proof of its hypnotic power was sitting on the couch between us. The Baby stared at the screen-subdued, mesmerized, bewitched by, of all things, Lawrence Welk. Her little shoulders- as if possessed by some otherworldly entity- rocked back and forth to the big band. And when the first song had ended, she looked at me panicked, "More? More! More!" Yes, there was more. 59 minutes more. She tap danced between us to Arthur Duncan's enchanting routine. She rocked back and forth to Jo Ann Castle's ragtime piano (it was so dirty, it was spectacular). She was entranced by the Lennon Sisters old time-y skit. And, at one particularly odd moment, The Baby leaped off the couch and ran toward the screen, head thrust backward, to get a better look at the tenor saxophonists decked out in their tangerine suits. She applauded after each and every performance- a gracious audience. She was reformed. The savage beast had been tamed by the Maestro. And it was Wunnerful!

The hour flew by too quickly. We too, were floating in the bubbly music, swept back to a time where the dancing couples resembled the figures of my grandparents in photographs from that same era. It was all so... pleasant. It dawned on me that this is what is lacking in modern entertainment- pleasantness. I often shun the honorable, the clean- in favor of crass, raw words, songs, images and sentiments. But, nestled into our couch with The Baby between us (and though, he probably won't admit it, First Born Son was there too), I felt a new respect begin to bloom for those who choose virtuousness over vulgarity. I am not a religious person; but, I am certain this was a spiritual moment for us. Is there a Temple of Lawrence Welk? I think I might want to convert. Or I might just be really tired.

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