She may wind up with cause to regret that, because easily the most memorable thing that happened today was that her 6-year-old wandered in post-bath, wrapped in a towel, jumped onto my lap, and said "Hey, look at this!" Then he opened the towel and puppeteered his foreskin into a mouth, which said "I hate you for no reason!" I am really glad to say this is the first time a dude has done this to me. Gentlemen, I do not advise trying this move on your lady friends.
That aside, it was a pleasant day. It was in the 30s in Chicago when I left. Here, it's 80 degrees. (The weather forecast forecast for my visit ranges between 39 and 81. That was… fun… to try to pack for.) Thorn picked me up at the airport and we went to a ridiculous Chinese buffet where, for $10 apiece, we got access to all the usual mega-Chinese stuff, plus a cake bar, a sushi bar, a dim sum bar, a steak bar, a Mongolian grill, a gelato bar, and a variety of fruit meant for use with the chocolate and caramel fountains, though we just ate naked bowls of strawberries and blackberries and called it good. We sat and got caught up on The State Of Everyone for a couple of hours, then got Thorn's two boys from school, went for a walk to the local pond, and fed the Canadian geese and a couple of reluctant ducks. My fish-white, Chicago-winter skin didn't know what to do with all the sunlight, and I passed out on a chair the second we got back to the house, and I slept til dinner.
Post-dinner, Thorn showed me this silly but giggle-inducing "Collaborate with famous writers" site, where you start typing a story, and a text editor jumps in and replaces common words with highfalutin vocabulary, identifying the edits as coming from Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, Emily Dickinson, William Shakespeare, and others. The edits never improve the stories — they're slanted toward exactly the type of writing we learned to avoid around 6th grade. They constantly add unnecessary verbiage and plug in extra adverbs and replace "said" with "assuredly declared." Also, Poe always replaces "fire" with "halo of hell." And if you stop writing for a minute, Dickens or Dostoyevsky or Nietzsche will slap in a random sentence. The best part is that actually mentioning a couple of the authors in your text — Dickens or Shakespeare especially — will set off little pre-programmed edit wars. It's a minorly amusing site.
But the kids loved it, and it turned into a collaborative game that went on for well over an hour, with me starting stories and demanding they take turns adding to them, and our invisible editors jumping in to muck things up, which sent them into gales of laughter. We wrote a story about the narrator becoming a dog that turned into a phoenix. We wrote a story about the narrator's face falling off in school, and everyone turning into zombies. We wrote stories about the boys in school, and a black cat who could fly. Granted, their story contributions were really heavy on poop (still their favorite word) and bloody mayhem, but they were also funny and surprising, especially as the 8-year-old showed me the growing expanse of his vocabulary. And engaging with kids on a creative level is The Best.
That said, damned if I know what else we're going to be able to do on this level while I'm here. I was looking for exactly something like this — an imagination-intensive game with a specific focusing device to keep them from wandering off every two minutes. So if any of y'all have other specific suggestions for keeping a 6-year-old and an 8-year old captivated for a couple hours, I'd love to hear 'em.
I'm-a feelin': tired