I was part of a movement of "dinosaur moms" when I lived in Maryland (Astrodon Johnstoni is the Maryland state dinosaur.) Which is nothing more than this -- dinosaur moms delight in the half-feral nature of the beasties they parent, even as they whisper Shakespeare and Kierkegaard in their ears at night.

Friday, December 28, 2007

My First Boyfriend, Danny Zuko, Part 1

It’s different now. Now, if you are gifted, it’s treated like any other accommodation.

But when I was in middle school, in our primitive gifted and talented program, being G & T meant that we had the run of the school. When there had been some infraction and the principal called an assembly to ferret out the misfeasor, we were always exempted. We never mixed with the general population and we didn’t even have some of the same classic experiences, like taking Spanish (We took French?!). So it was easy, when we started watching “Grease” and reading S.E. Hinton novels, to identify with the soc’s and to romanticize our schoolmates as greasers.

And noone seemed to challenge this conception. My best friend L. allowed me to school her on the finer points of royal address and tea parties even though when you think about it, she was my NEIGHBOR, and so, honestly, how dissimilar could our demographics have been?

So, imagine my thrill when, on a class-wide field trip to the Bureau of Engraving, I found myself seated with my best bud L and a bunch of regular kids for the entire bus ride to DC. I struck up a conversation with these boys, who thought my silly double entendres were hilarious and unbelievably risqué. The bunch of us girls ended up paired up with a bunch of the guys. Mine was M.

With his long hair and peach fuzz mustache, M looked like the Danny Zuko I’d imprinted on. He was the perfect first boyfriend. His best friend was a girl, so you could trust him. His friends were much more advanced than my friends in terms of actually going out and doing big kid stuff, like going for pizza or playing pac-man. He held my hand at couple skate and at the haunted house. He and his buds sat with me and my buds at lunch and they continued to think I was endlessly hilarious and shocking.

Well, and that was about the extent of it. So, when it became clear that we both had an inkling there was more boyfriend/girlfriend terrain to be covered, we just kinda freaked out and broke up instead. We promised to still be friends and meant it and continued to sit together at lunch.

What didn't make it into the Christmas letter

My friends and I are at an exhausting time of life, it seems. Where, not five years ago, our Christmas letters were full of deep reflection and high spiritual (not to mention, material) ambition; this year’s batch sounds more like, whew, we made it out of the year with the same crew we brought in, and not too battered by the journey.

I am humbled to note that my Jones, who had the most obvious milestones to report -- starting kindergarten, learning to read -- hearkens back to but one event of 2007. And that is, the day Mom popped the zit on my bum.

Why has this event taken on such epic proportions in his 6-year-old cranium? Well now, it WAS a monstrous zit. And it was already established that any assault on his bodily integrity was cause for great alarm (To his credit, he’s wailed inconsolably when I’ve cut myself, as well). But I think that the most likely reason of all is that the telling of the tale has tapped something deep and ancestral. You can almost hear the drumbeat by the fire.

Because, logistically, he could not bear eyewitness to the goings-on, he has been forced to imagine the sparks and lava and dragons that were unleashed into the world on that fateful day. And the story grows with each retelling, until he has me wrestling the demons to the ground.

Yes, he’s my little Ralph Wiggum. Remember Ralph Wiggum on his discovery of a couple sneaking a kiss in a closet? “They were making babies and I saw one of the babies and he smiled at me.”

Only the ending remains the same, the most chilling part, “And then, there was a little bit of blood. And you had to get a bandage.”

So long as I write the Christmas letter, you’ll hear about scout camp and promotions at work. But to hear Jones tell it, we emerge from this year panting from cataclysmic battles. And I can’t help but consider that Jones has it right.