Sunday, March 30, 2008

Let's Go Fly a Kite!

Following my Nana's funeral, my parents, Lola and Pepé, decided to give us a visit. And so they did. My poor dad was knocked out the whole time with some nasty bug, so it was odd: his jovian presence was not accompanied by his usually jovial self.

Me, asking all present at breakfast: Do you know why the Roman numeral for 4 on clocks is "IIII", not "IV"?
all present: gives me a blank look
Me: Because the Romans feared inverting the first two letters of their Pater Deity would offend him.
all present: continuing the blank look
Me: You know -- "Jupiter" from the Greek "Zeus". [because, of course, everybody knows there's no "J" in the Latin alphabet.]
all present: regard each other and resume breakfast.
Me: I always love to keep my audience riveted!

Git it? Jovian, Jove, Jovial, Jupiter (or, and the Romans would say: IVpiter, or, as not to offend him: IIIIptier) ... *SIGH* it's hard to be pater familias.

So, as my dear father was recuperating, we decided on a cherry blossom outing, being that the weather was fine, but then Lola decided to watch over Pepé, and not even the enticement of quantity time with granddaughters nor the promise of ditching the far, far distant cherry blossoms (they were 5 miles away in Washington DC) for the much, much closer promenade at Greensprings Gardens park (which was 3 miles away) would persuade her.

Ah, well! so we packed the kite that EM had made and the kite that Pepé had bought at a dollar store several years ago (so, with inflation, that kite was now an eBay goldmine -- I fancied a 50¢ profit from its sale if I could ever wring it from the hands of my li'l tykes). As we stepped outside, my cara spoza exclaimed: What a fine day, no need for coats at all, as we're going to Greensprings! I agreed and left behind my nice, warm, comfy leather jacket ... good thing I wore a sweater! because as soon as we entered the car, my dear, sweet-tempered dainty cara spoza declared: We shall go to Hain's Point, instead. You know, Hain's Point, that peninsula jutting into the cold, cold Potomac River as it thrusts itself into the black waters of the Atlantic Ocean? That one?

Mater Familias: Yes, that one.

Well, then we needed to convince the tykes, because they, too, like their pater familias, had their hearts set on nice, quiet, warm Greensprings Gardens. But, no worries, the mere mention of a playground turned pouts of sorrow into squeals of joy, so off we went. As we arrived, ...

EM: Papa, why are you driving so slow?
Me: It's "slowly," Elena, and I'm driving so slowly because I don't wish to get a ticket for exceeding the park's speed limit.

... we could see the waves white-capped by a strong breeze as they crashed over the breakers (I kid you not -- if you don't believe me, believe the three gentlemen of a certain age who pulled up beside us in their red caddie only to have their loafers and dress slacks soaked -- soaked! I tell you -- by a wave catching them as they walked along the sidewalk). A strong, cold, breeze greeted us as we opened the doors. Well, I had almost determined to remain, hermit-like, in the van, when my cara spoza brought out mac-n-cheeze for the kiddies (Ooo! they squealed, mac and cheezie, pleazie!) and sandwiches for the adults. What, food? Well, I was a bit peckish (famished, actually), so I decided to forego my embargo and go with them to the picnic tables to eat.

Then it was time for kite-flying, but first we had an interlude, as EM needed to take care of some business. Her Lola requested I abstain from discussing the particulars of the matter, but it's a 4-letter palindrome where the first two letters are the given name of one of the most famous Chinese poets (pronounced, as I learnt from my friend Grace, "Lee Buy").

No, I cannot resist the impulse.

So, EM and I drove off to the baño, ...

EM: Papa, why are you driving so slow?
Me: I'm driving slowly, Elena. Will you drive the van back to Mama, when the park police arrest me for endangering the lives of these joggers, bicyclists and roller-bladers?
EM: No, Papa! I'm not allowed to drive yet!
Me: Well, then, there it is!

... as it was some distance from the park proper, and as we approached this circular building of an imposing granite edifice, EM became less sure of her need to, you know, use the facilities. Well, I promised that I would wait for her, but that wasn't good enough, because after I did my business (hm, sun roofs for public facilities make them very warm, yes, and also remove the need for electric lighting, but this can make the restrooms very pungent!), I found her outside the ladies' room door.

Me: Are you finished already?
EM: No, I didn't go; let's go, Papa.
Me: Elena, I'll wait right outside your entrance.
EM: Promise?
Me: Yes.
EM: Really?
Me: Yes.

With these assurances secured, EM bravely entered the scary, scary restroom. A minute later, she called out to me.

EM: Papa, I need to poop!

So, if you haven't solved the palindrome yet, then you have the answer now.

The next crisis came when I commanded her to flush the toilet, something she normally does at home without issue, but here it was another story.

EM: Papa, I'm scared!
Me: Well, okay, no kite-flying for you!
EM: NoooooOOOooOoOOO!
Me: Well, then, flush the toilet.
EM: But, Papa, I'm scared!
Me: Okay, look, you can flush the toilet and then run right out to me; I'll be right here by the entrance.
EM: Promise?
Me, sighing: Elena, flush the toilet now.
EM, flushing the toilet and running out to me as quick as a bunny: Eeeeeeek!

Before we drove back, we spied two mallards, and EM hid behind me, as she feared being nibbled by their ferocious bills. Well, after I reassured her and showed her that they retreated when I approached them ...

EM: Why, Papa? Why do they run away from you?
Me: They're afraid of being caught and thrown in a pot of boiling water.
EM: Why?
Me: That's what some people do to ducks. Besides, would you wish to be thrown in a pot of boiling water?
EM: No.

... so that emboldened her to give chase to them herself. I think they lost some weight from the exercise.

So, off we returned to Go Fly a Kite (No, sir; I didn't mean you personally!). Here's how people fly kites at Hain's Point:

Me: Okay, tell me when you're ready!
EM: Okay, Papa, let it go!
Me, letting the kite go.
Kite, whoosing straight up into the air.
EM: Wheeeee! Look, Papa, I'm flying a kite!

That's what you get with a steady, strong, sea breeze: perfect kite-flying, or sail-boarding, weather.

Both EM and Isabel had turns launching and flying the kite. When Isabel flew the kite, I was relieved to note that the kite did not lift her up into the air and carry her away -- those wind elementals like to play with little girls younger than five. I also noticed that the kite needed to go higher ...

Me: Let out the string so the kite may fly higher.
EM: No!
Isabel: No!

... so there was nothing for to but for me to lift each girl in turn onto my shoulders. Eventually they did let out quite a bit of string, so as Diane brought the shivering Isabel, still sickly with flu, back to the van, I reeled in the kite, hand over hand. EM was interested in the process, but not interested enough to help more than one dangerous handful. After we (I guess I'm using the royal "we" in this case) reeled in the kite completely, EM and I returned to the van.

Li'l Iz: Papa, when you were flying the kite, I missed yoooooouoouuuououuu!

I explained, with emphasis, that I was not flying the kite, and with that point made and settled, we headed off toward home.

EM: Papa, why are you driving so slow?
Me: I'm driving slowly.

The End.

Li'l Iz: No! You can't say "The End" because you didn't say "Once upon a time"!

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