Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Playing Hooky with the Family

What a day. A dream, actually. Instead of pounding the pavement and tending to life’s little necessities – jobs and such – I got to play Mr. Uncle with my nine-year old niece all day. And while, in theory, I was playing the “adult” figure, it’s pretty clear my emotional IQ is a good several dozen or so points below hers. Surprise, surprise.

The idea for this rather random day was hatched at bedtime in my sister’s home last night. As you’ll recall, it’s the same place I’m calling home while I’m still putting the pieces of my life back together after my random and haphazard trip to the coast last month. I know, I know, I promised to fill you in on the details but, frankly, it’s all still a little bit raw to delve into. Give me time. It’ll come.

At bedtime last night, my niece was lamenting the thought of another day of school on a beautiful June day. And I didn’t help matters by proclaiming that when I was her age we never went to school in June – or August, for that matter. Or at least I don’t think we did. But when I told her about the camp on Curtis Pond that I worked at yesterday and how I was planning to sneak back up there for some solitude and a swim before the owners arrive in the evening, the little lobbyist in her kicked in.

“Can I go with you?” began the first rather innocent lob in what would eventually snowball into a campaign that would put the Kimball, Sherman & Ellis clan to shame. I swear, if any of us really want something done in the legislature, all we have to do is hire about a dozen nine-year olds, put an idea in their heads – you know, something like: shut down the Vermont Yankee – and then just let them run free in the State House until they get what they want. And, trust me, they’ll get what they want.

I was hip to her joining me from the get-go. And her father didn’t seem to be putting up much of roadblock, either. But, then again, being the distracted business-guy-dad, he pretty much rolls with anything that allows him time to focus on making even more money. The biggest obstacle was the Mommy/Sister. And we had one big thing in our favor: Wine. Oh yeah, Sis had a couple glasses of wine after dinner – probably to deal with my lovely presence. Lucky for us, the flip of her mood coin during this particular encounter with wine landed on the carefree side. Whew.

And so it was approved: Uncle Snarky and the darling little one would join forces to become – for “one day only,” according to Sis – Team Trouble. Cool.

We biked. Swam. Pretended to be the King and Princess of our Camp Trouble. And talked. And talked. And talked. She especially loves the stories about the trouble her mother and I got into as kids in the same town she’s now growing up in.

Her all-time favorite is the time we were coming home from a high school party and decided to steal one of those orange blinking lights that’s attached to the saw-horse-like contraptions. You know, the things they place near holes in the road. Well, the problem with putting one of those in the backseat of your car and riding through town with it at 1:00 am is that the orange blinking light really gives you away. And while we were nearly pissing our pants from the fun of it all, the cop who pulled us over didn’t find it so funny. But, Montpelier being what Montpelier was then – before the really surly cops who are apparently pretending they’re in a bigger city took over – we got little more than a half-stern lecture, a trip back to where we got it, and an escort home.

Like I said, it was a great day. And she’s a great kid – with some good snarky potential. But the best part was that I kept my head out of the news, thus unencumbered by the ninniness of the day. How refreshing. You don’t even need to read the news anymore to know exactly what’s happing in the political world. It’s the same thing every day: The Dems bark, the Republicans bite back, and the rest of us get the fucking bill for the entire charade. Ho-hum.

Perhaps the biggest lesson of the day for me was this: Nine-year olds have a hell of a lot of energy. I’m wiped.

We’ll talk some more tomorrow. Thanks for playing.