Babies

Warming Up My Act

Lee Schneider (@docuguy) • Instagram photos and videos 2015-07-26 20-38-52

I have a big gig coming up this week. I am traveling back East to play six days in Rhode Island. It’s a pretty easy crowd, because they think I’m cute, but that doesn’t stop me from working hard on the routine. I like to play small rooms to warm up the set. I will try out jokes at school and on the playground. I’ll test some set ups on the cafe cashier selling me a gelato. If there’s a babysitter around or a friend of my parents visiting, I will run through a few lines. Of course, I work it pretty heavy on the plane out. It’s nearly five hours on the flight, so I can run through the set over and over. By the time the other passengers leave the plane they are crying from laughing so hard at my material, or at least they are crying from the experience of riding on a plane with me.

Here’s some of my best stuff. If you wouldn’t mind memorizing a few of these straight lines and set ups and feeding them to me when you see me, it would be a great help. For those of you keeping track, I go with a non-associative structure to the set. I don’t like to build stand-up set theorems like Jerry Seinfeld. This isn’t math. It’s comedy. It’s more a Henny Youngman or Jackie Mason kind of thing, spritzing as it used to be known in the trade.

What did the train say when it sneezed?

Chugga chugga ach-oo!

What did the cat say when it wanted to leave the room?

Get me meow-outta here.  

What did the dog say about the convertible?

There’s no WOOF! 

What did the mommy cow say to the dawdling baby cow?

Let’s get a mooove on.

What did the polite baby cow say to his mommy cow?

Excuse me, moo.

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Boo.

Boo who?

Don’t cry, it’s only a knock knock joke.

What did the duck say after it heard all these jokes?

You really quack me up!

Thank you. You’ve been a great audience.

Babies

I didn’t run the marathon this year

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The main reason I didn’t run the LA marathon this year is that I didn’t train. I trained for other things instead. I trained for the stamina to wear out my parents so they required naps more than I did. I trained for chasing the cat, and then trained for complaining that he swatted at me. I trained for building enormously tall towers of blocks that fell with a crash at eight in the morning. I trained for eating the crust of pizza only, only a half cup freshly-squeezed orange juice that cost $5, and I have trained hard to ask for vanilla yogurt in a bowl, wait for the parent serving me to sit down and begin reading the paper, and then ask for some strawberries to go in the yogurt, wait once again for my parent to sit down and read another paragraph about Hillary Clinton’s emails, and then ask for some almond butter to go with the yogurt and strawberries in the bowl, wait another moment, until my parent sits down again, and ask for some water. All reasonable requests! And sequenced perfectly, don’t you think?

I have trained to count to ten by myself. I have trained on the ABC song and know all of it.

I trained for lounging in the bathtub. I have trained for crashing into the bed and cutting my temple. (I am okay now.)

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During the marathon I applauded the runners, and then, just to see what would happen, I threw a large pine cone into their path, to see if any of them would trip. This got me a stern lecture from my mama about the irresponsibility of tripping people who have trained hard to run for hours, but I don’t see the sense of running for hours anyway, and I am deeply involved now in testing boundaries. I have become a scientist of boundaries, constantly experimenting to see how late I can stay up, how long I can remain in the bathtub (a long, long time!), what happens if I throw something at my father’s face (result: not good!), and if I butt my hard head up against my mother’s jaw. (Also a bad experiment; will not be repeated.)  I have experimented with singing the Bingo song, and Old MacDonald, to help myself fall asleep.

Despite these experiments, or because of them, my mama says she wants to run a marathon with me, when I am old enough, she says. I don’t know what she is waiting for. I am ready now to run at least two or three minutes at a time. (Will somebody write in and tell me how long a marathon is?)

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Daddy Writing

On the Importance of Dirt

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Creative life starts with dirt.  You take your dirty laundry, metaphorically, and metaphorically put it out there for everyone to see.  Nothing worthwhile that is creative is accomplished without digging into the subconscious, and it is dirty in there. I would like to think that we learn this first as children, mucking around in playgrounds. I don’t think that’s true. The creative connection with play is forged there, along with a sense of cooperation with playmates, and fighting with playmates, and together making something or destroying it. It is valuable, but it is missing the courage, the element of skilled daring that is required to dig into dirt and come up with something memorable that is not just more dirt.

Babies

Ideas for Halloween Costume

Kind of rushed today, but wanted to jot down a few ideas for a Halloween costume.

Fire chief. I already have the hat, the red chief overcoat, and I have visited a fire station and rang the bell.

Burt Reynolds. Grow mustache. Take off clothes. Pose like centerfold. Bit of a stretch. Does anybody remember that photo shoot?

A German speaker. I am learning German at school. Vocabulary so far: nein. Just the one word.

A Tiger.  It’s what I was last year.  I still have the costume, so it’s the low-friction choice. Costume a bit stuffy.  Digging deep into the archives (from last year) here’s what it was like.  Wait for the roar at the end, but try not to get too frightened.

Babies

Nudity is OK, as Long as it’s Tasteful

I was reading an article in the New York Times the other day about nudist colonies in Croatia, and it struck me. I am getting more comfortable being naked. I decided to test this out the other day. When my parents came in my room to get me at 6:30 in the morning, I had taken off my shirt and was leering proudly at them from my crib half naked. It was liberating. I saw something of the future in it.

When I was very small I didn’t know what the heck was going on, so being naked was the same as wearing clothes. But as I matured, even a few months in, I started not liking the idea of getting my diaper changed in public. It’s so exposed with everything flapping around as your parent works quickly to strap you up again. Also, it’s drafty. I can think of lots of better things to do than having your diaper changed when you are crammed in an airplane lavatory, or as you dangle off a car tailgate, or as you roll around in the grass in the shady part of a sun-drenched public park.

The nudist colony piece in the Times got me thinking, however, that what I didn’t like about nudity had nothing to do with nakedness. It had everything to do with nakedness as a necessary condition of having a wet diaper changed. It was nakedness endured, not chosen. That morning in my crib, I chose my own nakedness, and it rocked.

What good are clothes anyway? You can go swimming without clothes and I have a lot of fun while swimming. You take a bath without clothes and I look forward to that. You can take a shower, which is slightly scary, but it’s good to get out of your comfort zone sometimes, especially in water. My cat doesn’t wear clothes, and most dogs I see don’t wear them either, and they seem happy.

There is only one reason to have clothes on your body that I can see. They are to catch food when you miss your mouth. Therefore the only necessary article of clothing for anyone is a bib. Bibs come in many stylish colors and shapes to satisfy the most discerning fashionista/o. I have a truck bib, an owl bib, and a blue one with concentric circles on it that reminds me of Wassily Kandinsky’s work from 1922-1932. I am going to start recommending adult bibs as a fashion statement on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and maybe somebody will pick up on it for a crowdfunding campaign.

The new thing I am doing with my mommy lately is a daily Sarasvati puja in the mornings. It goes quite smoothly with my cooperation, and only one time have we nearly burned a hole in the floor with our ceremonial candle.

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Babies

The Satisfaction of No

There is something really satisfying about flushing a toilet over and over, especially when there is somebody in authority standing close by, telling you not to do it.

There is something great about running around the apartment, turning on all the lights, closing all the doors, closing all the windows I can reach, and watching the temperature climb until my dad’s head turns red and explodes. That’s nice.

There’s something gratifying about asking for bananas over and over again in a commanding voice, and then, when they arrive, not eating a single one of them. It works even better if you say ‘all done’ and toss the plate.

There is personal enrichment in saying no to everything, even things I really want. I can always say I want them later, because if you use a loud voice, your parents will give you anything, I’ve learned.

It’s great to be two and two months. I can taste the power.

Oh, I have to go now. Some men have arrived with a straitjacket they want my father to try on. I think I might have to stop this, before they cart him away.  All I have to do is say NO NO NO in a loud voice.  I have a lot of practice, so I know this plan will work.

Editor’s note: Child development experts write ‘The better the parent, the more the child dares to disagree.’ This sounds good, but it makes you wonder if these child development experts have a quart-sized jar of serotonin reuptake inhibitors always close at hand, or are faithful consumers of bulk, box wine in the evenings when trying to unwind. 

Daddy Writing

Pajama Top Decisions

Editor’s note: I’ve become a bit inhibited about writing this blog; it’s become formalized and overly structured and I have become too aware of the (large) number of people now reading it. I can sense your expectations that I should be funny and deep always. But I am often quite tired and distracted. The problem with the funny-deep expectation is that blogs are made for thinking out loud. They are life’s first draft. So this one will be sketch-like, and fragmented. Sorry. You can skip it if you like. My writing partner will have plenty of entries coming, and they will be better written. 


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I think teaching compassion must be the hardest thing. I am thinking this as I stand at the bottom of our three flights of stairs, weighed down by four bags of groceries, watching Bodhi scamper around testing the life force of the plants in the flower beds. He is stepping on them methodically. Do they spring back? Yes. Experiment complete. Now he is closing the gate so nobody else can enter the apartment complex. Now he is balancing on the part of the brick that means he can fall into the cactus garden. Now he is running toward the driveway and circling back when I call for him.

He knows I’m waiting and wilting in the 90-degree September heat. He knows I have compassion for him because I am waiting here holding bags of groceries, calling out instructions for his safety and security, and I have waited for him to dawdle his way out of the car, and earlier, for him to refuse food I cooked to instead eat a portion of watermelon the size of a man’s head. I have compassion for him; he displays little for me.

He is two. I have to keep reminding myself of that.

The reason I need to keep reminding myself is that he has a large personality. Physically, of course, he is small. Oh, he is huge for a two year old, very tall, and forceful and strong, and he can scream loudly, and he is a vociferous conversationalist, an omnivore of words, machine-gunning out identifications of palm trees, yoga mats, jeep trucks, fire trucks, his mother’s complete first and last name, status reports on whether cars are going fast or slow, whether lights are on or off, whether it is daytime or nighttime, whether it is snack time or what kind of sippy cup his water shall be served in, how his dinner shall be served, whether a sound is loud. This morning I asked him if he wanted watermelon and his response was “Daddy, get the orange circle plate now.”

Viewed like this, close up, his personality is huge. Viewed across the playground, he quickly becomes the small child that he really is.

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He is making his own decisions now, his own man. This weekend he decided that he was going to wear his pajama top all day without changing into a shirt. I let him do it. I figure it worked for Vincent Gigante on Sullivan Street. Gigante was a big-time Mob boss who went around on Sullivan Street in New York all day in his pajamas, pretending to be insane in order to avoid arrest and prison. Because of this behavior they called him the Oddfather. I saw him many days, his unshaven silvery stubble catching the afternoon light, a gray, foggy look in his eye, the (faked) unsteady walk. The pajamas. Eventually the cops stopped buying the act and he was locked up in the federal pen, served a sentence for racketeering and conspiring to murder a few rival mobsters, and died there when not all the way through his 12-year stretch.

It seems odd to even have those kinds of thoughts and make those kinds of associations when you’re around an innocent little kid.  But just because I’m around an innocent little kid doesn’t mean my mind stops. I live in both worlds. Somehow. I realize that Bodhi likes the feel of a warm pajama top against his skin in the morning and doesn’t want to give it up. Even when he goes to work on his construction site.

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