4 jan 2000         

- danger at every turn -


Being the courageous yet emotionally retentive soul that I am, as well as your hero and poster child for lack of self-pity, I didn't tell you about the illnesses and injuries that swept through the household over the holidays.

I had a cold again, surprise surprise, and though it was a mild one I did my best to ride its debilitating sniffles with as much showy suffering as I could.  Viv would have none of it, of course, and simply went about her business of raising a daughter, decorating for Christmas, and keeping the film industry solvent.  And then with her left hand...

My wife is a powerhouse of efficiency and work ethic, which is a good thing to be if you're going to be something.  When I think of the women I could have married I shudder so much it puts my spine out of whack, so even though I'm often left in her self-cleaning dust, it's okay when I stick my lower lip out and make puppy eyes but she opts not to hop onto my little comisery wagon.

Despite this disposition, however, Viv was unable to keep from melting with sympathy and guilt after Amy fell this past weekend and nearly broke her front teeth off.  Amy's gait isn't what you'd call smooth, even when she's just walking, and when she gets a little speed on it's not unusual for me and Viv to stand there and cringe as she negotiates turns and doorways and furniture.  This time it was an extension cord to the outdoor Christmas lights.  Instead of taping it down with duct tape like good mommies and daddies do, we'd left it unsecured on the driveway near the porch and as she walked ahead of her mom - floiiinnnggg - it caught her foot and down she went.  To keep from scraping her nose or her hands, Amy broke the fall with three or four of her front teeth.  The crying was loud, the screaming was bone-chilling, and that was just Viv.  She and I sank immediately into that deep pool of parental guilt that we swim in when something like this happens.  The sight of lots of blood has quite an effect on the brainstems of mommies and daddies.

Even though I have several cameras and a darkroom, it seems most of the photos of my daughter these days are dental x-rays.  On Monday Amy and I made our second trip in five months to see the dentist about front teeth getting banged up in a fall.  The bad news is there may be some long-term effects from the accident, changes in her teeth that we can't yet see.  The good news is she's still got 'em, uncracked, and it looks like they'll stay in.

The fallout of all this is that she has to eat soft food for a while, and to see that she doesn't harm her teeth on the school district menu of beef jerky and peanut brittle, I'll be lunching with her at school this week.

I have just returned from our first date out on the hard cold benches and I have this to say; aside from the Blue Angels passing overhead in the diamond formation at 200ft., nothing on this planet is louder than 300 elementary school children sitting at lunch tables "eating".  I actually saw very little eating.  What I witnessed mostly was various forms of launching and spilling.

Normally, I don't have a fear of small children.  I'm tall, physically powerful, and could probably take care of myself in a knife fight.  But the whole time I sat there all I could think of was something William Saroyan said a long time ago in a story about pomegranate trees.  His uncle had purchased some open land, at an amazingly low price, hoping to get rich by transforming it into a lush pomegranate orchard.  As it turns out, the land was cheap because it was overrun with horny toads.  Gobs of 'em.  Being from Armenia, where horny toads are scarce apparently, the uncle was mesmerized by these odd little creatures.  He said something like, "They're fierce-looking, and one or two are probably harmless.  But I bet a hundred of them could kill a man."


  today's music:

"Did I Happen To Mention?" -- Julia Fordham -- PORCELAIN


today's wisdom:

"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."

- Winston Churchill

  toad drawing by Judy Oelfke Smith