Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Longest Day of the Year

is when your husband is in California at his friend's memorial and the buckets of rain never let up all day even when the sun comes out for a few minutes in the late afternoon, yet denies us a rainbow.

Never mind the clocks, they are immaterial to little children who can't tell time except by the absence of Daddy who will kiss Mia's swollen infected finger and even distract Nora from her fifth viewing of a ridiculous movie starring vegetables, but that will be later.

Most of the day, outside the peace of a long family nap in the late afternoon, is spent in aimless play, making Rorschach butterflies with glitter paint one hour, some agitating computer play another. A neighborhood girl comes for a couple of hours around lunch to give the girls an audience for the imaginary scripts they act out with their stuffed animals.

The girls make up lists of their fears. Mia: the dark, pirates, meat, trying new foods and peas. For Nora, the dark, bats and bombs.

I read a few pages of John Updike's Couples (the sixties era suburban swingers are as familiar as Martians), fold laundry and clean out the bathroom drawers, listening to the rain and thinking about yesterday when we drove into the city to a public access TV studio near Greektown for the Chic-a-Go-Go dance show taping. The girls were reluctant down the anonymous gray hallway of the cable station, of course, but intrigued when we turned the corner to a soundstage full of music and costumed dancers under the bright lights.

"I want to dance," said Nora so I put some angel wings and a tiara on her and she climbed on the carpeted riser in front and went to town. Mia's a little more shy so we sit behind the cameras and watch the king in a gold coat, the sun-glassed pharaoh and lithe girls in sequins dancing with abandon while the featured band, White Mystery, lipsynchs to their danciest track. The band is a brother and sister team with matching mops of red corkscrew curls. She's got an electric guitar hooked up to nothing and he jumps off the riser and wiggles around with his manically jingly tambourine but nothing's scary for the girls.

Perhaps I should have put a little more fear of the technology in the girls because Nora wanders around in front of the camera like a Saturday Night Live character while the sweet host Miss Mia is swapping jokes with Ratso the Rat puppet.

Ratso: Knock knock!

Miss Mia and the crowd: Who's there?

Ratso: Lettuce leaf!

Miss Mia and the crowd and us: Lettuce leaf who?

Ratso: Lettuce leaf the jokes to the professionals!

Ratso: Knock knock!

Miss Mia and the crowd: Who's there?

Ratso: Turnip!

Miss Mia and the crowd: Turnip who?

Ratso: Turnip the music, we want to dance!

And so they do, but this time Mia wants to put on her Princess Jasmine costume and shake her booty to "Panama" while Nora buries her head in my lap and sucks her thumb.

There's no sign of Julie Augie and Claudia (turns out they left a little before we arrived) nor my old college friend who's playing bass for Soft Targets. I'm okay with it, the day is for the girls and my nostalgia is even milder than my curiosity.

We slip away before the El Train dance and head over to Alliance Bakery in the rain for some cake ogling and good luck horseshoe cookies.

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