Alexander’s been having bad dreams lately, and he hasn’t quite figured out that what happens in his dreams isn’t actually happening. This is understandably tough for a sensitive little guy like Alexander.
His dreams cover a broad spectrum of scary stuff, from monsters, to dinosaurs, to not being able to find Mommy and Daddy when he needs us. In one dream, he was driving my car, pulled into the garage, and something bad happened (maybe he crashed into the garage? The details weren’t clear). He was calling for us to come help him, but we didn’t come. “So next time, when I have that dream,” he told me earnestly the next morning, “and I call for you and Daddy in the garage, make sure you guys come, okay?” Oh. Oh, Buddy. We would if we could.
Bad dreams have been a hot conversation topic at bedtime lately, and the other night, Alexander asked if Tim ever has bad dreams. Tim told him that he doesn’t have bad dreams very often, and when he does, it’s usually about something silly, like going to work without pants on.
As their conversation progressed, Tim started suggesting ways Alexander’s friends (the stuffed animals who sleep with him) could help him out if he had a bad dream: “Clifford is as big as a house, so no dinosaurs will mess with him. If a dinosaur is trying to get you, Clifford will come save you.” Or: “If a monster is chasing you, Dog-Bear can come protect you. Monsters will stay far away from Dog-Bear.”
“Yeah!” Alexander chimed in. “And if you have a bad dream, I’ll bring you pants!”
You know, I don’t think Tim’s had a bad dream since that night. He’s been able to rest easy knowing Alexander’s got him covered.
Alexander talks up a storm all day, every day, and he’s getting better at pronouncing words properly all the time. He no longer says “Huppa-cotter” for helicopter or “Boo-mint truck” for cement truck. And long gone are the days of insisting a monkey is called a “bacon.” Despite the dwindling adorable mispronunciations, the kid still makes us laugh every day with the things that come out of his mouth. Here are a few of my recent favorites.
After eating pizza, all the while exclaiming how much he likes it, and even asking for seconds and thirds: “Why did you make pizza? I wanted a hot dog.”
Whenever he sees me wearing a skirt: “Oh, Mommy! You look like a princess!”
When something doesn’t go exactly as planned: “That’s okay. Sometimes that happens.”
When I tell him he’s a silly bean: “No, I’m not a bean. I’m just Alexander.”
When he’s pretending to be a frog and I tell him he’s doing some good hopping: “I think you mean, ‘Good hopping, Mister Frog.'”
When we left his cousin Maeta’s house one day: “We need to get a crane and pick up Maeta’s house and put it next to my house.”
About Emily: “Aw, what a cute little baby!”
I had to help Alexander go potty at a neighbor’s house and asked the neighbor to hold Emily while I took A. to the bathroom. When we came back out, he walked straight up to the neighbor (who he’d just met) and said, “Now can we please have our baby back?”
One day we were getting out of the car, and I said “Hi, pretty girl” to Emily as I unbuckled her. Alexander asked me, “Are you getting the pretty girl?”
When we drive past the hospital. Seriously, every single time: “Oh, there’s the building! That’s where you guys got Baby Sister out of your tummy. And now you can carry me!” (The most important part of this story is the fact that I can carry Alexander now that Baby Sister is finally out of my tummy.)
Referring to his tears after he’s been crying: “There’s crying in my eyes.”
When he spotted some dandelions on the way to the park: “Oh! Look at these lovely flowers!”
Several times while we were swimming on the Fourth of July: “What a beautiful day at the pool!”
He is constantly narrating his own life, and he gleefully tells everyone what he’s doing, usually punctuating each word with an excited jump. One night we were out to dinner and I had to take him to the bathroom. There was a man outside the bathroom, waiting for his daughter, and Alexander proudly informed him, “We’re going potty!”
At bedtime, he asked me to tell him a story about Santa, Aladdin, Clifford, and a monkey. So I started with, “Once upon a time, Aladdin and Clifford went to the North Pole…” He interrupted “Yeah! And then we took off our clothes and went swimming! We went swimming in the North Pool!”
A few weeks ago, we went to a kids’ festival sponsored by Rocky Mountain PBS, and Alexander got to meet Super Why.
It was basically the best day of his life, as evidenced by his ear-to-ear grin.
Later that night, totally out of the blue, Alexander exclaimed critically, “Hey! That Super Why didn’t have a Why Writer!” (We assured him that Super Why’s friend Alpha Pig was probably holding his Why Writer for him so he’d have both hands free to give Alexander hugs.)
Alexander is totally obsessed with Aladdin lately, and he requests viewings of “The Genie Show” on a near-daily basis. Every night at bedtime, we get to tell “The Aladdin Story,” highlighting his favorite parts of the movie (mostly centered around the Cave of Wonders; that boy loves the Cave of Wonders) and usually starring Alexander in the role of Aladdin’s Best Friend. (Sometimes Mommy, Daddy, and/or Emily get to be in the story, too.) Frequently, after I tell the Aladdin story, Alexander says “Now it’s my turn!” And then something like this happens:
Transcript: Once upon a time, there was a boy named Aladdin, and his friend, Daddy! And they did the “One-Step” dance and got some bread. And then they went to the Cave of Wonders. And the Cave of Wonders said, “Who disturbs my slumber?” And they said, “It is I, Aladdin.” And– and– “It is I, Daddy.” And they went into the Cave of Wonders, and they found a magic carpet, and a magic lamp, and then that– Abu, that silly monkey, touched the Forbidden Treasure. So they went down the slide. And then, the magic carpet saved them from the hot stuff on the ground. And then a genie came outside. And the Genie said, “You get wishes!” And Daddy said, “I wish to be a rabbit!” And the Genie said, “Poof! You’re a rabbit.” And the Genie turned Aladdin into a train! And the Genie said, “Poof! You’re a train.” And then they stomped off to the palace. And then, the– Oh. I guess I didn’t say the soaked part. I guess they did not get soaked.* They stomped off to the palace, and then they stomped back to the palace, and they lived happily after. The end!
As you can see, not all of the adorable mispronunciations are a thing of the past. He is such a cute little stinker.
*The “soaked part” refers to the part of the movie where Jafar has Aladdin (a/k/a Prince Ali Ababwa) thrown into the sea. Usually when Alexander is telling the story, he emphasizes, “And then Pwince Ali Bwa Bwa got soaked!” He’s very concerned about the fact that our story’s hero gets all wet and needs dry clothes.
I’ve felt pretty strongly about something for a long time, and Kelly’s recent post about Whole Grain Newtons inspired me to finally get if off my chest. Here’s the thing: Turkey bacon is not bacon. They’re not the same thing. They’re just not.
Now, look. It’s fine if you like turkey bacon. You’re allowed. I don’t mind the stuff, I just don’t usually find myself wanting to eat it. It’s a perfectly okay food, if that’s what you’re in the mood for. But if you’re in the mood for bacon — real, delicious bacon — and someone offers you turkey bacon? No. That’s not going to cut it. It’s not an acceptable substitute. The texture’s wrong. The flavor’s wrong. It’s about as far from actual bacon as a protein can get.
Several years ago, when Tim’s parents lived in Atlanta, we went down to visit them over spring break. The night we arrived, we all watched a Jim Gaffigan stand-up special, in which he talked at great length about his love for bacon, as he does. Tim and I both commented about how, yeah, bacon is pretty amazing, at which point Tim’s mom piped up with a story about her and my father-in-law’s trip to the grocery store that morning. “We were about to check out,” she said, “when I realized we hadn’t bought any bacon. I knew you guys would want bacon in the morning, so I made your father go back to the back of the store to get bacon.”
This was great news. Tim’s mom is a wonderful cook, and one of the many perks of going to visit his parents is that we get to wake up to the smell of whatever delicious breakfast she’s prepared each day. So we already knew we had a good breakfast to look forward to in the morning, and Jim Gaffigan had us craving bacon, and now — miracle of miracles! — our delicious breakfast was going to include bacon! This vacation was off to the best start ever!
We got up the next morning, super excited for breakfast, and…you know where this is going, right? It was turkey bacon. There was no bacon anywhere in the house. Now, breakfast was still good, of course. And the turkey bacon was fine. Like I said, it’s a perfectly okay food. But when you’re expecting bacon and you’re presented with turkey bacon…well. There’s just a certain level of disappointment that comes with the realization that the bacon you were so looking forward to is nowhere to be found.
(I should add that Tim’s mom really is a wonderful hostess and always takes great care of us when we come to visit. I think Tim found a polite way to work into conversation later that week the fact that turkey bacon’s not really our favorite thing, and ever since then, whenever we’ve gone to visit, there has always been real bacon available. She doesn’t have to buy us real bacon — I would eat turkey bacon every day of our visits to them without complaint; really, I would — but she does anyway because she’s very nice. The Morning of the Turkey Bacon has become something we all laugh about together, which is why I can write about it here without worrying that she’s going to see it and think that we’re ungrateful house guests, because that’s about as far from the truth as turkey bacon is from real bacon.)
So there you have it. Turkey bacon, as its own, separate-from-bacon thing, is fine. What’s not fine is trying to pretend that it’s in any way a substitute for real bacon. Turkey bacon and bacon might as well be in separate food groups, they’re so different from each other. My brother once wrote a review of the movie Anaconda in his high school paper in which he commented that the only thing the computer-animated snake had in common with the real snake from another scene (I didn’t see the movie, but I gather that there was only one snake character, and the filmmakers used both a real snake and a CGI snake to play the role of the single snake character) was the number of legs. Likewise, the only thing turkey bacon has in common with actual bacon is the presence of the word “bacon” in the name. Other than that, they are completely separate food items. End of discussion.
Turkey sausage, on the other hand? Delicious. Love the stuff. Would gladly eat it in place of pork sausage any day of the week.
What the…What am I supposed to do with this? Put it in my mouth?
No, this definitely doesn’t seem right.
What if I just grab it…
…and then place it on the spoon…
Wait a second. Is the good stuff hiding on the bottom of the bowl?
I’ll tell you one thing, this bowl tastes a lot better than that avocado nonsense you tried to put in my mouth earlier.
Oh, now I see. The spoon goes in my mouth. Interesting.
Wait wait wait. I just had the best idea. Are you ready, Mom? This is going to be hilarious.
OMG that was awesome. Throwing avocados at Mom is the best!
I learned a great deal in my high school Spanish classes, not the least of which was a handy amount of conversational Spanish. One of the best lessons I learned, though, was a two-parter: 1. Embarrassing language mistakes happen, no matter how hard you work to avoid them; and 2. Embarrassing language mistakes are often hilarious, and it’s far better to laugh at yourself than to be embarrassed. This is a story about that.
Spanish, like all languages, has its own colloquialisms. One word can mean any number of different things. The word in question today is caliente. At its most basic, it translates to “hot.” However (and this is another thing I learned in high school Spanish), among native speakers, it’s more commonly used to mean “hot and bothered”/”excited”/”all worked up” — in an adult sense, if you get my drift (and I think you do) — than it is to describe the temperature of something. This is an important fact to remember if you wish to avoid making an embarrassing language mistake. It is also a very easy fact to forget when you’re in a hotel lobby in Barcelona, having a conversation with the front desk clerk, trying to scrape up whatever vocabulary you can from high school and college Spanish classes after it’s sat dormant in the corner of your brain for the better part of six years.
Which brings us to October 2010, in a hotel lobby in Barcelona, where Tim and I, exhausted after a full day wherein I had tried to show Tim all my favorite things about the city I’d spent six weeks in six years earlier, tried to determine whether the hotel had a hot tub in which we could soak our tired muscles.
In retrospect, I don’t know why we didn’t just go to the pool area and see for ourselves rather than trying to ask the nice woman at the front desk. I’m glad we didn’t, though, because if we had, then I wouldn’t have this embarrassing story for us all to laugh at now.
So. Back to the lobby. I’m trying to inquire at the front desk whether the hotel has a hot tub, but it’s been a long time since I’ve really used my Spanish, and I can’t remember the word for “hot tub.” Honestly, I’m not sure I ever knew the word to begin with. So I go for the next best thing and attempt to describe the term that’s missing from my vocabulary — like a one-sided game of Catch Phrase in which the person who knows she’s playing doesn’t speak the language, and the other player is very confused but trying very patiently to help the crazy rambling American. It went a little bit like this:
Me: In this hotel, do you have a “hot tub”? [In which the entire sentence was in Spanish, except the term “hot tub,” which I said in English.]
Front Desk Clerk: [Blank stare to indicate she has no idea what a hot tub is.]
Me: [Again with the Spanish] It’s like a swimming pool, only more…hot.
Front Desk Clerk: [Gives me an odd look and assures me that the hotel does not have any such amenity.]
We returned to our room and swim-suited up, thinking that even a non-hot swimming pool would feel pretty good on our muscles. When we arrived at the pool and discovered that there was, indeed, a hot tub, I reflected on our lobby conversation and realized my mistake.
See, when I asked for a hot swimming pool, I didn’t really say “hot,” not in the correct sense, anyway. What I said was “caliente,” which you’ll remember from a few paragraphs above has an entirely different meaning than the one I intended.
Basically, I asked for a horny swimming pool.
No wonder the woman at the front desk was so confused.