I had a great time with the Prices, and apparently I was a hit with their children (3-year-old Rachel reportedly asked "is the funny man coming back?"). But I also learned a few salutory lessons and had a few highlights along the way:
-- Within just one day of frequently holding their newborn (Dec. 19) son Louis, I had learned to tell the difference through the diaper between the feel of a fart and the feel of a crap. But the Prices trusted me with Louis after I assured that I did know how to hold a baby, having seen it often on television.
-- Children determined to run around a church will not be dissuaded, even if their brother is being initiated into the Kingdom. I warded off a threat to the dignity of Louis's Baptism on Christmas morning by dealing with a restless D3 while the Parental Units were otherwise occupied. (Here's a picture from another Price Baptism.)
-- I showed The Boy 1.0 how to grip a football to throw a perfect spiral (the football was made of cushion material but it worked well enough) so I could catch his throws every time. He said he and his Dad like the Lions and hate "the Green Packers." But note to self: Never de-facto dare a 4-year-old boy to hit you as hard as he can by saying "you hit like a girl." Eye tissue is delicate and those buggers are stronger than they look.
-- Shopping for children for the first time in your life can be both utterly mystifying and nostalgia-inducing. For example, I had never heard of "the Littlest Pet Shop" and had to call to ask what the reading levels of the Pricelets were before deciding to get the "Cat in the Hat Dictionary." That book was one my aunt bought for me when I was 6 and thumbing through the book, I realized how much of it was still stuck in my memory (the four J-boys named Jack, James, Jerry and Joe, e.g.)
-- Hockey tickets will make you very popular in Detroit, even to the point of The Wife overlooking the perfect male-to-male Christmas gifts: 100 episodes of The Man Show one way, and a Borat book the other way.
-- Dale hates the song "Brother Louie" by Stories. Or at least got sick of it after hearing me sing the chorus to Louis. I switched to the Kingsmen's "Louie, Louie," but couldn't remember the lyrics.
-- Letting me loose in a multi-storey bookstore, such as Detroit's John King Used & Rare Books, and expecting restraint is like ... well ... Paris Hilton at a nightclub, Marion Barry at a crackhouse, Rosie O'Donnell at Krispy Kreme. I bought so much that I had them ship most of my purchase UPS Ground to Washington, to arrive in three weeks. Northwest Airlines was no doubt grateful to avoid the fuel costs.
-- Although I'm nobody's idea of a trained athlete, there is nothing like suddenly remembering that you've left your cell phone at the cash register in an airport store while descending an escalator that will take you from the secured area of an airport to the unsecured. You will turn suddenly into Steve Austin running up the down stairs (and rip your
-- Heather and I bonded over our shared hatred of "Catcher in the Rye." I denounced this paean to EMO teen self-indulgence, to contempt for adulthood as hypocrisy, this orgy of self-righteous whining about phonies, as the most vile novel ever written, at least for us in our current context. I said that given the choice between giving a 15-year-old a copy of that book or a subscription to Playboy ... "my money's going to Hef. Playboy merely encourages an existing vice that can hardly profit from encouragement in a teen boy; Salinger creates new vices in the guise of virtues." At those words (close as I can recall), a grateful smile came over Heather's face. "I thought I was the only one," she said, coming close to tears as she hugged a fellow comrade in Salinger-hate. While in her arms, I said to her, "let's you dump him and run off together." She said ... "you know ... there's at least one major issue with that." And Dale chimed in: "I really can't work up much jealousy right now."
Seriously, thanks Dale and Heather for your hospitality and making 2007 a Christmas to remember rather than forget.