Friday, August 28, 2009

The comedic value of opposites

Natalie and her mother were talking about opposites. The opposite of up is down. The opposite of open is closed.

"The opposite of American is Filipino!" Natalie blurted. Her mother had a good laugh over that one.

But the children, aged 4 and 7 years, have had their share of good laughs recently, thanks to a game that Daddy invented. It's called "The gentleman's game."

Here's how it works: Daddy explains how a civilized gentleman behaves in various adult situations -- at the dining table, at the office, on the train. He stands tall. He looks men in the eye. He wipes his mouth gently with a napkin. Thus is the stage set for the next demonstration, which depicts how NOT to behave. This is the segment that gets the audience howling and typically includes monkey faces, slurpy Bronx cheers and wild motioning of the appendages. Scatological references have proven extremely effective.

After one particularly well-executed routine, little Natalie slowly managed to say: "I can't … stop … laughing." Her parents never heard her say that before and wonder where she got it.

Daddy believes that the children's civilized development will benefit from the serious first half of the comedy skit, while suffering little or no harm from the slapstick, anti-social antics.

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The Clarks of New Jersey haven't really gone on vacation this year. Any recommendations?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Beating the heat, again

Caption: The children learn important life lessons.

Events have moved swiftly since old man summer descended on the Clarks of New Jersey. Mimi turned 70; Poppy's family assembled in Milford; Theo spent two nights away from home; Miss Margie's is operating with 2.5 paying customers; and the publishing industry continues to tank.

But life, wrote the poet, is a series of much smaller events. For instance, splashing about in the pool on a Saturday afternoon; spraying daddy with the hose after his haircut; and joking about Theo's skinny arms. (See photo, above.)

They won't be skinny forever. Soon, muscle mass will begin to grow around those shoulder blades, and we will reminisce happily about the way he used to look when he played with his sister in the backyard pool.

A special thanks to Natalie's Godfather Tom Garda, for giving us this Cadillac of kiddie pools. It's a beauty, and it continues to entertain all of us -- even Daddy has been known to exercise herein. Uncle Tom, the Clarks of New Jersey salute you!

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Interesting observation: the very first posting in this digital diary concerned the kids enjoying themselves in a backyard kiddie pool. My how they've changed!