Entry 811: You Can’t be Blamed for Your Relatives

Well, Adolf Hitler is in the news again.

He’s in the news quite frequently for someone who’s been dead for 73 years, unless you believe the theory that he actually escaped to San Diego and is currently residing in an old age home in Alabama.

That theory, by the way, is one that I recently made up in a post about some French dentists who were allowed to examine the Fuhrer’s teeth. Earlier, I did a post about the auctioning off of the Fuhrer’s underpants. And I’ve also written about the return to the best-seller list of Mein Kampf, one of the few books on the list not co-authored by James Patterson.

Fortunately, none of my Hitler-related posts have caught the attention of any Hitler-related people, some of whom reside in Long Island, which is certainly within V-1 rocket striking distance of my home in Connecticut. (They wouldn’t even try to use tanks like their ancestor did in Poland, because of the traffic on the Long Island Expressway.)

Ha ha, just kidding, guys. The “guys” of which I speak are Alexander Stuart-Houston, Louis Stuart-Houston and Brian Stuart-Houston. They are the sons of Hitler’s nephew, William Patrick Hitler, who was born in the United Kingdom to Hitler’s half-brother, Alois Hitler Jr., himself the illegitimate son of Alois Hitler, who evidently very much enjoyed sleeping with young household help.

(Suffice it to say that the Hitler family tree more closely resembles a kudzu vine, the unstoppable invasive plant that grows throughout the American south, suffocating every growing thing in its way. Everybody seems to be somebody’s half-something or other, or is a disputed or alleged or rumored relation, often involving a maid, nanny or die prostituiertefuhrer.)

Where was I?

Right–Hitler’s relatives.

So William Patrick “Willy” Hitler (today he’d probably be known as “Wi-Hi”) made quite a name for himself in the 1930’s giving interviews as “Hitler’s English nephew.” This did not please his uncle, who publicly stated that his favorite nephew was Heinz Hitler, owner of the Hitler Ketchup Company.* So Adolf summoned Willy to Berlin in the same way Donald Trump might summon Eric to the White House. “No one must drag my private affairs into the newspapers,” Adolf told his nephew. “I have never said one word they can use. And now there is a ‘nephew’ to tell them all the miserable little details they want to know.”

I bet Hitler wished someone had already coined the term “fake news.”

Willy ended up going to New York and joining the U.S. Navy to serve in World War II. I’m guessing security screenings have become a bit more stringent since then, although, judging from the FBI’s Kavanaugh investigation, maybe not.

I’m going to pause for a minute here so that we can all imagine the reactions of WWII U.S. sailors when introduced to Ensign Hitler.**

Okay, I’m back. After the war, Willy moved to Patchogue, Long Island with his German wife and changed his name. Twice. First he tried “Hiller,” but when that didn’t provide enough distance from the original, he changed it to “Stuart-Houston” for reasons nobody seems to know. It certainly does sound snootily English, though.

And that brings us to Hitler’s three grand nephews, Alexander Stuart-Houston, Louis Stuart-Houston and Brian Stuart-Houston. They all had pretty ordinary jobs, Alexander as a social worker and Brian and Louis as landscapers (the latter after an unsuccessful career as the comic Louis SH^). Neither of the landscapers had anything to do with this, which is actually in Malaysia.>

Only one of the brothers, Alexander, has spoken to the press, which, naturally, asked him what he thinks of his current leader. “The last person I would say I admire is Donald Trump,” he told the reporter. “He is definitely not one of my favorites.”

It is unclear whether Alexander’s distaste for the President is because he thinks Trump is too much like, or not enough like, his ancestor.

One thing’s for sure: Trump is certainly no Hermann Goering.

Yet.

See you soon.

*True about Adolf stating that Heinz was his favorite nephew. Not true about the condiment.
**According to real reports, in one instance, a naval officer, upon being introduced to the new recruit, replied, “Glad to see you Hitler. My name’s Hess.”
^Not really.
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Entry 810: Losing Weight is Expensive!

So I’ve lost over 50 pounds since Memorial Day.

Whenever I run into someone I haven’t seen for awhile, I have exactly the same conversation:

“Wow! Did you lose weight?”
“Yes, about 50 pounds.”
“Intentionally?”

Sadly, this is not the first time in my life I’ve lost 50 pounds, but when I did it previously, I did not have conversations like this. I can only surmise that, at my age, people figure it’s much more likely that I have acquired a horrible disease than a sudden influx of willpower.

Anyway, yes it was intentional. I’ve gone from obese, to seriously overweight, to just plain fat. If you knew me “before” and saw me now, you might think, “Boy, he looks so much better.” If you didn’t know me before, you’d think, “Gee, he’s kinda chubby.”

The weight loss is mostly thanks to a diet my wife found called I Love This Diet, which uses a selection of frozen meals available in supermarkets and, not incidentally, eliminates almost all carbs. The diet wasn’t very costly (especially since only one of us actually registered), and we didn’t have to buy any special shakes, powders or those meals they advertise on programs like Nutrisystem that look like you’d only eat them if they were what you used to stock your fall-out shelter, and Trump had accidently used the launch codes.*

But I’ve had to spend a fortune on my wardrobe which, I should point out, is not now, nor has ever been, particularly trendy or stylish. If I ever attended an awards ceremony, and one of those insipid red carpet people asked me who I was wearing, my answer would probably be Eddie Bauer.

To give you an idea of my fashion sense, after I had lost 25 pounds or so, I tried on a suit from my closet and my wife told me that, not only didn’t it fit, it had not been in style since approximately 1987. She made me go out immediately and buy a new suit “in case someone dies.” The good news was that Men’s Warehouse was having a 2-for-1 sale. The bad news is that I then lost another 25 pounds, so that I now have two brand new ill-fitting suits that are poised to embarrass my wife at a funeral.

That was the problem: I went through more than one size. It wasn’t too bad initially because it was summer, so I was pretty much just replacing t-shirts and shorts. And underwear. And some polo shirts. And a few pair of pants.

But now, 25 pounds later, I have to buy everything again.

Plus, we had to purchase large plastic bins in which to store the previous sizes for when I gain back the weight. Of course, I will try not to do that, but, as I mentioned earlier, this isn’t my first weight reduction rodeo. I know from past experience that my weight is about as stable as my president. I’ll probably find myself returning to at least one of the sizes now in storage.

And winter is coming. There’s a North Face jacket that I might be able to get away with if I only wear it to walk the dog and don’t care what the neighbors think. Then there’s a major, super-warm puffy coat, reserved for the coldest days, which will need to be replaced due to the wearer of the puffy coat being much less puffy. Of course, I could fill it out by wearing about five layers underneath it, but then the super-warm aspect of the coat won’t be necessary.

I’ve already started replacing sweaters and (for cold-weather dog walking) lined pants and thermal shirts, much to the delight of LL Bean and Cabelas. I even bought a plaid flannel shirt and, frankly, it’s been more than 30 years since I’ve been able to wear plaid without looking like a bagpipe.

At least I can still wear the same gloves, hats, socks and shoes. You’d think the same would be true about neckties, but, while I haven’t checked (nobody has died), I suspect they’ll need to be replaced, too, since I’ve always purchased extra long ones so they’d drape over my belly. Now they’d probably drape over my pants zipper.

And even though my head seems to be more or less the same size (unless someone gives me a compliment), my face appears to have shrunk. My eyeglasses were falling off. So I had to buy new ones, and they were very expensive because my lenses are prismatic, progressive, transitioning, high-index, glare-free and scratch-resistant. And they have to be put into frames.

People ask me how much weight I want to lose, and, truth be told, I’d like to get down to love-handles size.

But I don’t think I can afford to.

See you soon.

*Or not accidentally.
Posted in diet, health, humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Entry 809: The Morning After

Disclaimer: This post was written before any results were in.

Well the midterm elections are finally over, and all of us, regardless of political affiliation, can finally breathe a sigh of relief . . . because we don’t have to see any more campaign ads.

Anyway, in the wake of the elections, here are some random political thoughts I’ve been saving up:

Sometimes I think the blue states should separate from the red states and start their own country, even if it would mean a civil war. But then I remember which side would have most of the guns.
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When we talk about blue waves and red tides, we should remember that either can sink a ship.
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Trump is probably right about some things. But he’s definitely an asshole about everything.
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This may only be true of the New York metro area, but I noticed that almost none of the campaign ads identified the candidate’s party. I can understand it for Republicans (again, I’m talking about the East coast here), but even Democrats weren’t exactly shouting their affiliation. On one hand, it may indicate a good trend that voters have to like or dislike an individual instead of voting blindly along party lines. On the other hand, it’s difficult to root for a team if the players aren’t wearing uniforms.
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You know how, at the end of every campaign commercial, the candidate says “I’m so-and-so and I approved this ad.”? Considering some of the ads, I’d hate to see what sort of legislation they’d approve.
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It seems to me that Republican supporters fall into two groups: those who put their own well-being before morals and those who put their beliefs before their own well-being. Democrats, on the other hand, only fall into one group: those who don’t know what the hell they want.
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According to Wallethub’s rating of the most and least educated states, all but three of the bottom 25 are red states. It’s easy to draw a conclusion from that (“Gee, people who vote Republican are idiots”) but I would encourage you not to rush toward such a judgement. For one thing, quality of education is not the only characteristic that correlates almost perfectly with red voting tendencies. Another is the popularity of football in that state. So, clearly, people who vote Republican are brain-damaged.
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Apparently, when doing campaign ads, you’re allowed to make stuff up about your opponent. The only recourse the opponent has is to do ads repudiating what you said about them and then adding a couple of lies about you. This is why America’s political discourse sounds like a couple of kids in a playground insulting each other’s mothers.
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Many of the campaign commercials didn’t even mention the candidate they were for; they were only about what was horrible about the other person. So it’s actually possible for the candidate who spends the most money to have the least “brand recognition.” After all, they barely ever mention their own name.                                                          *************************************************************
Media-wise, Election Day is like Superbowl Sunday: all-day coverage of absolutely nothing. The game doesn’t start until the polls close, folks
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Politicians love bringing up their military experience. Thank you for your service and all, but I’m not sure how your time flying helicopters in Afghanistan qualifies you to be in Congress. Fighting a war isn’t exactly about compromise, and that is what our government is severely lacking.
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It’s been well-publicized that more money was spent on this election than any midterms in history . . . by far. Some estimates put the figure at $5.2 billion. If that money was distributed among every man, woman and child in America, it would come to . . . oh, only $16 apiece. I thought that was going to be much more impressive. But maybe if everyone with income over $500,000 (around 6.5 million people) didn’t get their $16 and, instead, those funds were distributed among those below the poverty level (about 39.7 million), that would be an additional, um, $2.60 per poor person. Jeez, this just isn’t working. Plus I’m getting a headache from all the math. Just take your damn $16 and get a nice cocktail while you mull over the state of democracy in America.

See you soon.

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Entry 808: You Have to Crawl Before You Can Run

A reporter recently asked Chelsea Clinton if she is considering running for office. “I don’t have any plans to run for office,” she replied in the manner of any politician with plans to run for office, “but it is something I think about as I hope every young person thinks about it.”

As somebody who’s about to go on Medicare, I couldn’t agree more. We need more young people running the country, because just about all the people who are running it now have no reason to think about the future. They’ll be dead by then.

Hopefully.

Unlike most of our young people, however, I’m doing a lot more than merely thinking about running for office. I’m actually doing something about it . . . by nominating a young person to run for office.

The young person I have in mind is my granddaughter, Sydney Grace Krupp.

As a five-month-old, Syd represents a growing constituency that has a great deal at stake in the direction our country takes. She should appeal to supporters of Donald Trump in that she is a Washington outsider and everything she says is gibberish. Non-Trump supporters will like her, too, because she doesn’t know how to tweet.

Sydney is in no way beholden to corporate interests, except maybe MeadJohnson, the corporation that makes her Enfamil formula. And while she may listen to lobbyists, she will have no idea what they are saying.

With Syd, we won’t have to endure all the crying about biased media coverage and fake news. She’ll only sound off about important matters, like diaper changes. And because she has mastered the art of sticking out her tongue and blowing raspberries, she will be an excellent example of the state of American discourse. I pity anyone who comes up against her in a debate.

Still, you may be wondering about her policies . . .

  • Sydney is quite the expert when it comes to economics. She is fully aware, for instance, that Bed Bath & Beyond coupons are accepted at Buy Buy Baby.
  • Syd’s views on women’s rights are evolving; she recently won the right to keep her arms outside of her swaddle.
  • If elected, you can be sure she won’t give government jobs to a bunch of her lackeys. She doesn’t have any lackeys, unless you count the people at her day care place.
  • She will be able to negotiate a great trade deal with China, and solid new nuclear deals with Iran, North Korea and Russia. Not even Vladimir Putin can resist this face.>>>>>>>>>>
  • Sydney doesn’t play at partisan politics. To get things done, she’ll be more than willing to cross the aisle, especially once she starts crawling.
  • If elected, Syd will not have any meetings with Kanye. She will, however, seek out one with Raffi.
  • Sydney thinks immigrants should have a clear path to citizenship. She supports DACA. Also DADA and MAMA. She would never separate children from their parents, unless they were going to their grandparents’ house to get spoiled.
  • Syd believes she can unite all Americans by smiling at everybody.

Now, while Sydney may be the perfect candidate, there are some practical matters that may be problematic. For one thing, I’m not sure if she’s a Democrat or a Republican. I know which way her parents lean, but you know how rebellious kids can be. She may be an Infantile Socialist, for all I know.

In addition, it’s true that Syd doesn’t meet most states’ age requirements for elected office. On the other hand, Brynneth Pawltro was recently elected mayor of a town in Kentucky (Mitch McConnell’s state!) despite being only three years old. And a pit bull terrier. (It’s her fourth term.)

The biggest problem for Syd, though, is that, with the elections coming up on Tuesday, it’s too late for her to get on the ballot. She’s going to have to run as a write-in candidate.

So, no matter what state you’re in, or what you’re voting for, vote for Sydney Grace Krupp.

I’m Mark Hallen, and I approved this message on behalf of Sydney Grace Krupp, because America needs someone who gives great hugs.

See you soon.

Posted in humor, parenting, politics | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Entry 807: Mark Hallen™

I’m thinking about trademarking my name. That way, no one but me can dress up as me today.

On one hand, it would be a pain in the ass to have to add a ™ every time I wrote “Mark Hallen.” But, on the other hand, I’d hate for someone to profit from using my name, at least not without giving me a cut.

The model Hailey Baldwin recently trademarked her name. In fact, she not only trademarked “Hailey Baldwin,” she trademarked “Hailey Bieber,” which, of course, is her married name until she gets divorced from Justin Bieber. Meanwhile, there could be major legal problems for anyone who uses the name “Hailey Bieber,” even if her name is Hailey Bieber, in which case she probably has plenty of agita already, such as everyone she’s introduced to asking her how many tattoos Justin has.

Out of curiosity, I decided to find out if there were a lot of Hailey Biebers out there who may not be able to use their names any more now that Hailey Bieber™ has trademarked it. So I Googled “Hailey Bieber” and then “non-famous Hailey Bieber” and then “people named Hailey Bieber.” But no matter what I did, I could not avoid Hailey Bieber™. In the process, I discovered that Hailey may or may not be pregnant with what I can only assume will be Justin and Hailey’s Baby™.

Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have the luxury of not trademarking Mark Hallen because, after I tried in vain to find a Hailey Bieber that nobody ever heard of, I Googled Mark Hallen, and there are a lot of those running around!

There’s a doctor Mark Hallen, for instance, who is a Ph.D at Duke University working on “protein and drug design algorithms,” whatever the heck those are. Here’s a picture of him. I’m guessing that he’s smarter than I am. I know he has a lot more hair.

There used to be a Mark Hallen in Pennsylvania who was involved in local theater, but I don’t have to worry about him anymore, because he died in 2013. There’s a lovely memorial service for him on YouTube, and I have to tell you, it’s extremely disconcerting to hear someone say “We are here to celebrate the life of Mark Hallen.” It’s good to know, however, that Mark Hallen was very much loved.

I’m pretty sure I’m better off than the Mark Hallen who’s a driver’s ed. instructor at Umpqua Community College in Roseberg OR. There’s one in Eden Prairie MN, too (a Mark Hallen, not a driver’s ed. instructor, although I’m sure there are a few of those in Eden Prairie). At left is the picture that’s on his Facebook page, which makes me want to send a donation to the Cross-eyed Kids Foundation, if there is such a thing. There’s also a Mark Hallen in Maple Grove MN, but I don’t know if the Eden Prairie Mark Hallen moved to Maple Grove and started a new Facebook page with his adult photo. (After all, how many Mark Hallens could there be in Minnesota?) The Maple Grove Mark Hallen (below) looks like he might be related to me, at least hairwise.

While scanning the Google results, I was shocked to be offered the opportunity to visit Myspace to “listen and stream free music” by Mark Hallen. I clicked the link so I could hear if Mark Hallen was any good, but there wasn’t anything there except a photo of a guy playing guitar. I suspect that the guy is actually the aforementioned dead Mark Hallen from Pennsylvania. That would explain why he’s on Myspace.

While I might not be able to sue any of the Mark Hallens I found even after I trademark “Mark Hallen,” I can, perhaps, sue Al Sundel. He has written a book entitled The Mysterious World of Men and Women Looking, which includes this passage:

“‘A woman was murdered last week,’ he said. ‘Nothing’ll be normal here until we catch da crud who did it.’ He turned to Mark. ‘What’s your name?’

‘Mark. Mark Hallen.’

‘In da phone book?’

‘Yeah. Queens.’”

A bit of research revealed that Sundel lives in Hartsdale NY, which is near Irvington, where I lived for 25 years. Also I grew up in Queens. So maybe Sundel actually knows me somehow. Maybe he’s getting even with me for something by including me in his book, like that guy Mark Judge who wrote about a drunken jerk that seemed an awful lot like Supreme Court Justice (gag) Brett Kavanaugh.

Judging from the writing, though, I probably can’t sue Al for using my name, because I doubt he profited much from its use. But maybe I can go after Jørn Jensen, who has produced what looks like a children’s book, or video, or something, called “Mark i hallen.” I don’t know exactly what it is because the whole thing, including the website I found it on, is in Swedish. Or some language with “ø’s.”*

Anyway, I only got to page eight of the Google results before I got bored with me. But clearly, with all these Mark Hallens out there, I figure I should to do what Hailey Baldwin and/or Hailey Bieber did and trademark my name. So I found this site called TrademarkEngine.com, with “packages starting at $99 $69 + USPTO filing fees.”

I don’t know how much USPTO filing fees are, or even who or what USPTO is, but I do know this:

My name’s probably not worth 69 bucks.

See you soon.

*After I finished this post, I Googled Jørn Jensen out of curiosity, and there are quite a few Jørn Jensens out there, too (he should trademark his name). But it turns out the language is Danish, because the Jørn Jensen I was interested in seems to be sort of the Roald Dahl of Denmark. He’s written over 500 children’s books, including a whole series of “Mark” books. “Mark i hallen” translates to “Mark in the hall.”

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Entry 806: Greetings from Florida

I thought I’d share with my readers this letter that I recently didn’t receive from the Florida Department of Tourism. Unlike other mail sent from Florida this week to people who don’t particularly care for President Trump, this had no devices:

Dear Mr. Hallen,

On behalf of all the fine residents of Florida, as well as the other 20 million people who live here, I feel I must express dismay at your frequent belittling of our state.

You have written about our brain-eating amoebas, our face-eating criminals and our leprosy-carrying armadillos. You have not hesitated to point out that the highest elevation in South Florida can be achieved by standing on top of a landfill we humorously call Mount Trashmore.

You have stupidly made fun of our gun laws, which allow our residents to kill someone if they perceive a threat but not fire a warning shot if they are actually threatened.

You never cease to ridicule our climate just because you can’t figure out how a place can have relative humidity in excess of 100%. And you seem to absolutely hate our wonderful seniors who make up 23% of our total population and 10% of our motor vehicle accidents. I’ll have you know that even though Florida is Number 1 in the nation when it comes to being home to old people, we manage to be 47th when it comes to providing decent health care for them. So, you see, we try to kill them off, but they just keep coming. And living.

Soon, you will attack our state song, “Old Folks at Home,” just because it was originally written to be sung in a “slave dialect” by minstrels in black face.* It so happens that black face is a great Florida tradition (although Megyn Kelly is not from here). In fact, I’ve heard that some people still do it because the make-up discourages the face-eating felons that live here.

You apparently hate Florida so much you have advocated for the entire state to be sliced off at its borders with Alabama and Georgia and allowed to float toward Cuba. And you have indicated that you are in favor of global warming because a rise in sea levels would put our state under water.

Enough!

It’s time you discovered the good things about Florida. For instance, nowhere in America can you find so many deadly Burmese pythons! The Everglades are positively teeming with them! They’re so popular, they’ve already wiped out 99% of the fur-bearing mammals, and possibly a few of the fur-wearing old ladies. They can reach 23 feet in length and weigh 250 pounds and they’re a lot faster than your average electric wheelchair. We’ve already caught over 1,100 of them, but they keep laying eggs (great omelets!). Even better, they’re somehow mutating into hybrid Burmese/Indian pythons, and Indian pythons are faster and more aggressive. Plus, they prefer dryer land, so we look forward to welcoming them onto the golf courses and strip malls of Dade and Broward Counties

If you escape our pythons, you might want to make it down to Miami for the midterm elections. There’s a terrific candidate running for the House of Representatives. Her name is Bettina Rodriguez Aguilera and she believes that she was abducted by aliens–blonde aliens who looked like the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro–and has stayed in touch with the ETs telepathically. She has the endorsement of the Miami Herald. Really.

In addition to pythons, we have had a lot of monkeys in the news lately. One was taken away from its owner after he was pulled over because the monkey was unlicensed. And also because the car was stolen.** Another monkey attacked a Home Depot employee in Okeechobee County, presumably because it could not get the self-checkout to work. Rest assured, we are doing our best to keep our monkeys out of the Everglades.

If you can get down here for Halloween, you’ll want to be sure to visit Lake Worth, where residents recently received the following text alert:

POWER OUTAGE AND ZOMBIE ALERT FOR RESIDENTS OF LAKE WORTH AND TERMINUS. THERE ARE NOW FAR LESS THAN SEVEN THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED AND EIGHTY CUSTOMERS INVOLVED DUE TO EXTREME ZOMBIE ACTIVITY. RESTORATION TIME UNCERTAIN.

As I’m sure you know (because it’s the type of program you would watch) Terminus was a location in the TV show The Walking Dead, and is not a real place. Lake Worth, however, is real, so the city’s Facebook page immediately had to post a retraction from Lake Worth communications specialist Ben Kerr:

“We are looking into the reports that the system mentioned zombies. I want to reiterate that Lake Worth does not have any zombie activity currently and I apologize for that system message.”

Notice that Ben felt the need to use the word “currently.”  It is, after all, Florida, so you never know what kind of unlikely events may occur. That’s why it’s so exciting down here!

Anyway, we at the Department of Tourism do not know how many Lake Worth residents took action before the error message went out, or what action they took. But, I can report that traffic on I-95 was briefly shut down when a small group of people making loud noises marched down the center lane on the southbound side. They said they were trying to lure the zombies toward the pythons.^

I urge you to leave Florida alone, Mr. Hallen.

Yeah, well, I doubt it.

See you soon.

P.S. Happy birthday, Barbara. I love you!

*Believe it or not, the Florida state song really is called “Old Folks at Home,” and it was originally a minstrel song. I have no idea how the person who didn’t write this letter knows about a piece I haven’t posted yet (it’s coming soon).
**It was a pet license that the monkey didn’t have, not a drivers license. The monkey was not driving. Even Florida doesn’t allow monkeys to drive. Yet.
^The I-95 zombie march is the only thing in this post that I made up. I mean, other than the whole letter. But all the other stuff about Florida is true.
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Entry 805: Grandparenting in the “Rain”

Now that we have a granddaughter, it’s easy to recognize the many differences in parenting styles between us baby boomers and millennials.

For instance, millennials like our daughter Casey and her husband Alex seem determined not to kill their babies, whereas we had a laissez-faire approach which included allowing Casey to face forward in moving vehicles and sleep on her stomach with lots of stuffed animals.

Another difference is that, evidently, millennials like to expose their babies to as many experiences as possible while the infants are way too young to know what the hell is happening. Our granddaughter Sydney is just five months old, and she has already come into close contact with farm animals, visited the aquarium, rolled through the botanical gardens and gone mushroom foraging. She has also accompanied her parents to a wide variety of ethnic New York restaurants, possibly to build up a tolerance for Indian food which she may have a genetic aversion to if she takes after her grandmother.

Sydney has already done so much in her first months that I fear she has very little to look forward to in life.

I’m sorry, Syd, but it may be all downhill from here.

One thing Sydney had not yet done was go to a concert, so Casey and Alex got her tickets to Lincoln Center so that the New York Philharmonic could play Debussy for de baby.

Ha, ha. Just kidding. They got her tickets for Lincoln Center, but not for the Philharmonic. Instead, they were for something called “Rain,” described like this on the website:

“This mesmerizing and intimate sensory experience for babies and their caregivers opens in a softly lit installation space that introduces tiny audience members to the rain—its sounds, its shapes, even its wetness. A trio of performers on cello, voice, and percussion act as gentle guides through a brand-new world of wonder, delight, and opportunities for connection through sound, touch, and performance. Rain is designed for infants and babies who are not yet walking. For safety reasons, babies who can walk will not be permitted into the theater.”

Fortunately, ambulatory adults were allowed in, because it would have been difficult for the babies to take an Uber to the theater by themselves, what with the car seats and all. Unfortunately, Casey was sick on the day of the performance, and Alex was tired from waking up with Syd the previous night, so my wife Barbara and I were called into duty to, first, schlep down to the Bronx from our home in Connecticut to pick Syd up and, second, to schlep into Manhattan to Lincoln Center.

That was a lot of schelpping for a 40-minute performance, but I guess we can’t complain, since the performers came from Australia.

As we waited for the show to begin, we sat in a lobby with other infants (and their parents) and were embarrassed at how underdressed Syd was. She was in her footsie pajamas, while all the other babies looked like they were dressed for their private school interviews. (Barbara later told Casey that this would result in large therapy bills, to which Casey replied that, indeed, there might be therapy bills, but not for that.)

After awhile, we were sent into an anteroom to endure a brief speech concerning some sort of aboriginal mumbo jumbo which Sydney had absolutely no interest in. Then we walked into a room with thin ropes suspended from the ceiling, in case any of the parents wanted to hang themselves for buying tickets to this thing.

Finally, we entered a large, dimly-lit room with what appeared to be a supersized version of the playmat we have for Syd at home, except this one had big, water-filled bubbles and a woman seated in the middle of it playing a cello. (We had recently fired our cellist.) The caregivers were told to sit on the floor with their babies, which meant that, after sitting cross-legged for a half hour, I became one of the attendees who could not walk.

In addition to the cello player, there were two other women attired identically in blue gauze tops and leggings. The “voice” performance promised on the website turned out to be these women making baby-sounds (“Whee! “Plop!” “Drip” “Pitter patter”). The part of the description that said “even its wetness,” was the women spritzing the audience with a spray bottle. Syd seemed unimpressed, perhaps because she’d already been to the aquarium.

The whole thing was too New Age-y for my taste. I figured they were priming the kids to join a cult. Barb and I had identical reactions, which is unusual, since my wife is generally much less cynical than I am. “Why,” we both thought, “was it necessary to travel all the way from Australia to do this?” After all, not much unique talent was needed (the cello player wasn’t even that good) except for the ability to tolerate other people’s babies, which we figured any day care worker could handle. And they’d be able to say “Whee!” and “Plop!” with the Caribbean accents New York babies are more accustomed to hearing from their caregivers.

But, as I sat there with Syd on my lap, I remembered something about parenting that is the same from generation to generation: the joy of experiencing something through a child’s eyes.

Unfortunately, in this case, the child in question seemed to be as bored as I was. She was falling asleep, along with my legs. In some fairness, I have to admit that Syd was, perhaps, the youngest baby at the show, so maybe she wasn’t quite ready for this degree of audience participation. Also, Barb and I were by far the oldest caregivers at the show, and I know we weren’t.

I must say, though, that afterward, Syd did seem to enjoy bouncing on one of the water bubbles.

See you soon.

P.S. Just last night, Syd and I spent five minutes on Facetime doing nothing but blowing Bronx cheers at each other. So I guess a little culture couldn’t hurt. Either of us.

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