Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Metuchen Restaurants, etc.

Caption: Theo, left, has a lot of Uncle Danny in him.

The Clarks of New Jersey bolted out the door of Romano’s Macaroni Grill when the host described a 35-minute wait. “Isn’t it great to have Megumi’s as a resource in times like the present,” said Dad, a 41-year-old trade magazine editor.

Mom, a self-employed day care entrepreneur, agreed.

Off they drove to Megumi’s, Metuchen’s most user-friendly Japanese-Chinese fusion restaurant. (Note to reader: Objectively speaking, the finest Japanese restaurant in Metuchen is Mr. Pi’s. I suspect it’s the finest in all of New Jersey. In fact, I will argue right here that Mr. Pi’s is probably the best restaurant in the country, all things considered, and certainly the most pleasant dining establishment within driving distance of 56 Voorhees Place.)

Anyway, at Megumi’s, Dad wanted something that Theo was eating, and Theo declined to share. He kept his motives to himself, but his position was based clearly on the belief that there was very little incentive to share whatever it was that Dad wanted and a significant degree of amusement to be gained by withholding it.

The incident reminded Dad of a story that centered on his own dad – a.k.a. The Goose – and Dad’s brother, Dan. The story is reproduced here:

Once while driving between Indiana and New Jersey, little Danny Clark was eating gumdrops (or some similar candy) in the back seat, and the Goose wanted in on the action. Danny, a spirited youth of about seven, let it be known to everyone in the car that in the case of his gum drops, property rights must be maintained at all costs. The gumdrops belonged to him and he would have all of them as a matter of principal.

A few miles down the road, the Goose issued a statement. “I do not want a gum drop, and if given one, I will not eat it”

Outwardly, this had little effect on Danny. But the wheels were turning inside his head.

Then the Goose held out his hand palm up, and added to his previous statement. “In fact, if you put a gum drop in my palm, I STILL would not eat it.”

Now he had Dan’s attention! Like any curious, red-blooded seven-year-old, Danny couldn’t resist the temptation to put Goose’s statement to the test. Slowly, cautiously, Danny held a gumdrop over the open hand. He dangled it like Edwards’ angry God might dangle a sinner over the pit of hell. For miles the cat-and-mouse game continued until, lulled into a false sense of security, Dan placed the gumdrop in Goose’s hand, and let go.

Almost immediately, the cunning Goose thrust the treasure into his mouth, with immense satisfaction. The car erupted in howls – howls of laughter from third-party passengers (including Aunt Diana) and howls of protest from Dan, the gumdrop kid.

That’s the end of the story. Theo loved it. He asked for more stories about Goose (he calls him “Poppy,” of course). And he couldn’t get enough of them.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Incident in Theo's Bedroom

Caption: Natalie, at 21 months.

Allow me to set the stage for an incident that sentimental readers might describe as “adorable,” and one that little Natalie’s proud parents would describe as just another in a long line of similar incidents that often go unrecorded in our family’s humble history. The time is 7:15 p.m. on Wednesday, and the freshly bathed children are preparing for bed. On one side of Theo’s bedroom, Margie is reading to Theo from a book about salamanders. On the other side of the room, Casey is playing “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” with Natalie.

Suddenly Natalie makes a suggestion in a language only she and her mother can understand.

“Wahh,” she says.

Casey continues leading her through the various stages of Itsy-Bitsy Spider.

“Wahh,” Natalie repeats, becoming agitated.

Casey is at the part where the rain water begins to vaporize.

“Wahh,” Natalie repeats.

From across the room, Margie interprets for Casey: “She wants you to play Open Shut Them.” She says this as if there isn’t the slightest possibility that “Wahh” could mean anything else.

As soon as Casey begins chanting the phrase “Open shut them,” little Natalie’s face glows in appreciation and pleasure.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Spring Forward

Caption: Theodore Clark, left, and baby Paul Ferrigno enjoy their first outdoor recess since 2006.

Metuchen, N.J. — Because of the 23.4-degree tilt of the earth’s axis, human beings enjoy a regular and refreshing variety of seasons – at least we do in the Raritan Valley, where the Clarks of New Jersey live.

On March 20, the Northern Hemisphere (that’s us) will celebrate the vernal equinox, nature’s way of telling us that spring is here!

Warmth and sunshine arrived a little early last week, and Miss Margie’s Metuchen Day Care took advantage of the spring-like weather with outdoor activities that included, but were not limited to, driveway chalk drawing, worm hunting, bird watching and tricycle riding. Miss Margie believes outdoor recreation is crucial to childhood development, while television impedes the growth of the child’s imagination. For your forward-thinking views, Miss Margie, we salute you!