At 8 oclock this morning Gnat announced that we were not going to do anything today, just sit in the house and wait for night because then the Wishing Star came out and she would wish that all the My Little Ponys would come to our house and they would be alive and we would have a sleepover and I could sleep with Pinky Pie and Cinderella was coming too.
Child, you are straight tripping, I said. No no Im not see. And she walked around the room very carefully.
Bad choice of words. Quick! Deflect! Deflect! Remember when you tripped down the stairs yesterday at John and Maddies house?
"Yeah." She giggled. She hadnt giggled then. Four steps, sternum-surging for 3/4ths, a nose-crack on the fourth. Much blood. I picked her up and consoled as best as I could; when I handed her off I noted that my shirt shoulder was spattered with the old vino on tap, and it mixed with the pastel smears from the face-painting shed gotten at the fair that afternoon. My shirt looked like Id beat a clown to death.
Anyway. I spent most of the day convincing her that the Ponys would not show up no matter how much she hoped, wished, or dreamed. Nothing like crushing your childs imagination, eh? Actually, I was trying to repurpose her imagination, to make things that probably wont happen wonderful to contemplate, nevertheless. No use. Its now 9:31 PM, and shes still going on about the Wishing Star and the Ponys coming over to eat oats. Real Ponys and real oats. It puts the parent in an odd position; you admire the imagination, but you dont want the child to pitch a fit when the Ponys do not materialize. The Ponys are real in your heart and your dreams, sweetheart.. We can't go to Ponyville in person but you can go there in your imagination. Okay, Daddee. Then we color for half an hour. Then it's back to the fargin' Wishing Star. By noon it had assumed greater powrs than those the ancients ascribed to Zeus. Hell, I was wondering if I should put in a request.
Okay, were going down to see the Wishing Star now. Back in a moment.
Well, that didnt work. Obviously. She wished for Ponys to come and play, and I think she expected to see them come galloping up the stairs. Maybe its a Wishing Star that works only if you wish things for other people, I said, appealing to that native altruism inherent in the human soul.
Mommy, you wish for Ponys to come and play with me.
Shes sharp, Ill give her that.
The other day on the mylittlepony.com site she saw a special Pony you could only get by assembling Pony Points. Did I mention this last week? No? Well, Friday morning we decided that we might investigate this Pony Point business down the road, see what we could do. Off to piano class. The teacher began by examining everyones practice book to see if theyd done their lessons. Five checked boxes earned a gold star. We had no checked boxes, since Gnat was on vacation that week, so she got a Smiley Face. Gnat was disconsolate: no stars? She laid face down on the bench. Maybe, I whispered, we could go find some Pony Points after class.
We COULD? Instant perk. We had a great piano lesson, and I thought she had been deftly steered away from the no-star issue. But as the teacher came by at the end to check her hand position, Gnat said Im going to go get Pony Points! and I knew I was sunk.
Off to Target. I explained that this was a Special Occasion, and we wouldnt get Pony Points after every lesson. Piano lesson was fun, and fun was its own reward.
After careful selection we bought one Pony ($4.25, marked down from $4.69). Daddy got Max Payne 2 for the Xbox. Thats all we bought: a My Little Pony and Max Payne. The clerk shot me an odd look: not even toilet paper? No toothpaste? Whatever. Home. We cut out the Pony Point logo on the back. We had two points. We needed 16.
Somehow she got a Pony out of Mommy on Saturday. That made four points. I decorated a special envelope for saving this magical equine scrip, and we did math lessons to figure out how many points we needed. For her, it was simple: just buy more Ponys. Duh.
Sunday: LOOK, DADDEE, LOOK! She held up one of her My Little Pony coloring books. It had two Pony Points. The realization that Pony-branded merch also yielded points sent her on a mad search through the house, and by the time she was done shed found two more coloring books and two Pony story books. We had NINE Pony Points.
Sunday night: shes standing in front of the toy closet in the family room, studying the contents. Then she lights up: MY PONY PUZZLE! We get the puzzle down, examine the back. The mareload. It has EIGHT Pony Points. Were over the top. So Tuesday afternoon we printed out the order form, put all the points in the envelope, and went to the Post Office. She put the letter in the slot.
Do I get my Pony now?
In six to ten weeks, I said.
Is that tomorrow?
In a sense, yes. But probably not tomorrow. In the fall. After school. At Halloween.
This would be a Crushing Blow, but theres already a Halloween display at the local grocery store. So its not too far distant, and weve learned a lesson about currency and savings and immediate gratification, and the Post Office. Gnats name is on the order form, so the Pony will arrive addressed to her. A great day that will be, I tell you. We all sent away for something in the mail; we all know what it was like to wait. You learn patience. And you learn the importance of the Daily Mail, how it punctuates the day, what its absence on Sunday suggests. Today she said Fine when I said I was going to check the mail. I expect she will want to join me from now on.
So thats my day. Plus daily piano practice, making Gnat write Thank You on pieces of paper for some friends, grocery shopping, a trip to the appliance store, bill paying, cooking three meals, saying TO HELL WITH IT re: any sort of sweeping or dusting, making three meals, and best of all trying to write a column on the Beslan massacre while dealing with three hours of the wishing-star / Pony situation AND buffing the Strib column. Both were due at noon. Through it all, I hold fast to those words we use to comfort ourselves in the dark trying moments.
After eight, you can have a beer.
You know what? I did.
Tonight: the Sunday column. I wrote a version of the Wishing Star Problem, and its completely different than what you just read. Compare and contrast! Now Im off to finish the movie I started last night: Claudine, a mid-70s movie positioned between the blaxsploitaton flicks and the Good-Times / Fat Albert vogue. (Tagline: "A heart and soul comedy. Can you dig it?") I dont know if its a great movie, but it keeps your attention. It stars Diahann Carrol as a mother of six; she hooks up with none other than James Earl Jones, who plays a garbageman with moxie and a porkpie hat. It has that whacka-chicka vibe; the music is provided by assorted Pips; New York looks faded and fallen, and you keep expecting characters to say "Solid, Jackson!") but its a far better movie than "Bartleby," the pretentious psuedo-Lynch drivel I finished Sunday. But thats tomorrows art-heavy non-political Bleat; see you then. Oh: fair pictures conclude tomorrow, too.
This makes the fourth piece Ive written or finished today. Gads. And its almost midnight.
But after midnight, I can have a scotch.
And you know what? I will. Its still not-fall outside; Im still wearing shorts. Im going to get my iPod and head out back and fire up a Panter and set the playlist to Django. Because its either a Django sort of day or its not. And this one was a Django day. Every day should be a Django day.
You hear that, Wishing Star, you indifferent son of a bitch? Alright, then.