Rubber Soul

It’s made of rubber – my soul that is. It must be to have been pushed and nearly broken so many times. Like a rubber ball left in the sun it has, at times, developed cracks and fissures. Its outer layer has developed a hardened shell and yet, it somehow manages to bounce back.

My song, yes…I said my song, is Michelle, sung by Paul McCartney, adapted by my daddy and sung to me. I don’t know what came first, the song or my nickname, K-Belle, but the words go together well.

K-Belle you’re swell, these are words that go together well…my K-Belle.

He sang it to me often. It was my song  – his profession of love to me, written by Paul and re-written to suit us. The song he sang to tell the world how much he loved me.

I love you, I love you, I love you! That’s all I want to say.

These were the only words he knew I’d understand when I was 4 then 5 then 6. What child could know what troubles a grown man holds in his own soul? How can a small child ever understand that her Daddy isn’t a God dressed in a state trooper uniform, the brim of his Stetson pulled low and casting shadows on his eyes. How can a child fathom that her Daddy is simply human?

I need to, I need to, I need to, I need to make you see… Oh, what you mean to me.

I missed him. I longed for him to come back and prove that he wasn’t just a human. I wanted the God. I didn’t want his flaws or his weaknesses. In my teens, though he is still living, I mourned him and, eventually, I stopped remembering. My memories of us grew foggy and distant as I accumulated years. I’m left with snapshots of moments made tangible by the music we listened to. Music pulls those memories from their dusty place, sometimes unexpectedly and like a punch in the stomach.

The Beatles are the soundtrack of my earliest years, when he was still with us. There really is barely a song that doesn’t remind me of him. But this song, this simple little song sung by Paul and adapted to suit us, is the one I love the most.

I want you, I want you, I want you. I think you know by now. I’ll get to you somehow. Until I do I’m telling you so you’ll understand.

Sont des mots qui vont très bien ensemble, Très bien ensemble.” Those are words that go together well.

I love you too, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!

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Twinkle, Twinkle, Cheesy Breath…

“Okay girls, hop into bed!” I called. “Lights out.”

click

“Don’t forget Twinkle, Twinkle,” Gwen sings with an upward lilt.

As if I ever would.

This is our nightly ritual after all. The same ritual we have performed since the first night she spent in her crib. That night when we clipped one of the strings that tied her so tightly to us – the first of many strings. Her chubby body, all warm from a bath filled my arms, and I pressed my cheek against her tiny face. That night, I began our song and we’ve been singing it nearly every night since. Nearly four and a half years of singing our special night-time prayer. The song that I whisper into her ear to tell her that she’s loved.

Sometimes she joins me, our voices weave together and linger in the air over her sweet pink bed before I kiss her goodnight.

I remembered this as I knelt at her bedside, pressed my cheek to hers and begin to whisper-sing the song.

Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star, How I wonder wha….

She pulled away, nose all wrinkled in revulsion, “Your breath smiles like cheese.”

“Oh, sorry,” I apologized. “I just ate some white cheddar Cheez-Its.”

“It stinks,” She declared. “You can skip Twinkle, Twinkle tonight. No…wait. Sing it but just stand over there by Kate’s bed and then you can go.”

Mouthwash…it’s a good thing. Click the blinking brown box if you agree.

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Snakes in Maine

Did you know that Maine has no venomous snakes? We were informed of this tidbit while house-hunting two summers ago, as if that bit of knowledge would suddenly cause us to say, “Oh, well in that case…we’ll take this house right now!”  Being a natural skeptic, I simply nodded my head at the realtor and smiled real pretty-like, reserving my sarcasm for the privacy of our car.

I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could absolutely know whether or not poisonous snakes exist in a state filled with vast amounts of wilderness. Not only that but, how exactly, does one keep a snake from entering the state? Is there some kind of sentinel standing watch at the border of Maine and New Hampshire? “Can I see your papers please?” The visiting venomous snake pulls out some forged papers claiming that he is a common milk snake and hands it to the snake sentinel. “I’m sorry, sir…your photo looks nothing like you, you’ll have to turn around. We don’t like your kind in Maine.”

I subjected David to a relentless monologue about Maine and snakes after the realtor provided that weird (suspicious) piece of trivia. I have a hard time letting things go and, just as the ride settled into a comfortable silence, I’d ask, “So…do snakes just stop at the state line? Is there some invisible poisonous snake-repelling force field?” or, “Maybe the poisonous ones choose to avoid Maine. So….what? Maine’s not good enough?” I huffed, “Those elitist jerks.” We tend to engage in these types of conversations on road trips. Mostly because we’re slightly twisted and also because we make each other laugh with ridiculous scenarios.

Have you ever visited Maine? The first thing that you see as you cross the state line is a giant sign proclaiming that this is a state that lives life the way it should be lived. Evidently, whoever decided that living “The Way Life Should Be” also decided that life shouldn’t involve venomous snakes.

This morning I walked out of the house to find all three children huddled at the side of the driveway. Upon hearing the screen door shut, they all looked up and began talking simultaneously in a mixture of unintelligible squeals and excited sentences punctuated by high-pitched voice cracking. “Wait…what did you say?” Joe stood and ran toward me holding his hand out, “We found a snake, Mom!” I realized that the hand he was holding out was wrapped in a brown snake and my heart momentarily skipped a beat. Thankfully, I remembered that suspicious claim about Maine having only non-venomous snakes. I’m obsessive enough to have checked the facts and, short of contacting the State Wildlife Agency to confirm, I’m going to proceed living life the way I should…without fear venomous snakes. (The last known sighting of a Timber Rattlesnake in Maine was in 1901.)

Here’s our new (and likely temporary) friend, Mr. Baby Snake a/k/a Bing Bong. I can’t make this shit up.

Of course, after warning that snakes should never be picked up unless you know they aren’t poisonous and even harmless snakes bite, I let Joe hold Mr. Baby Snake who showed no signs of aggression. Plus, his tiny little head wasn’t threatening at all. I suspect that his mouth was too small to get a serious hold on kid fingers. Besides, how could I resist this textbook -boy” moment of exploration? Look at him… I love that smile and his new, too-big-for-his-face front teeth. I’ll think about the orthodontist bills later. For now I’m going to relish his final days as a six-year-old, big crooked teeth and all.

After he’d begrudgingly boarded the school bus and the grumpy bus driver shot me the hairy-eyeball, I realized that I was standing in the driveway in my nightie and a sweater. Whatever… we were having a moment. Besides, she’s pulled up and caught us doing The Robot and playing dead at the end of the driveway, I think it’s safe to assume her opinion of our family has been formed, nightie or no-nightie. (Do people even use the word ‘nightie’ anymore?)

Anywho… Joe was gone and the snake, now renamed Bing Bong, was subject to two inquisitive little girls who proceeded to poke him and decorate him with ornamental leaves. Bing Bong needed to look pretty for his journey home.

 

*Other than a bit of psychological trauma, Bing Bong escaped unharmed.

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