Saturday, January 06, 2007

Looking Forward So I'm Bent Sideways

One of these days, I'm going to chase Daria around her house with a recording device because some things cannot be conveyed without tone, inflection and sheer volume. In Daria's case, add frenetic movement, a microscopic attention span and a cloud of naturally spiral-curled Jersey Chick hair like a pivoting microburst, none of which translates easily into print or sound. So let's practice seeing and hearing a person who is my sister but might be just like yours. First: you must know that no matter how uncomfortable the new shoes or unforgiving the jacket, Daria never takes apart an outfit she's wearing. Yeah, I don't get that either. It's New Year's Eve at Auntie InExcelsisDeo's and the house is packed. Daria and I are zinging around the kitchen so no one else has to. Watch this:

Daria: Yesterday, Fifi learned to say Daddy. I'm used to her all day long with the Mom! Mom! Mom! but he was shocked and nervous when he'd leave the room and she'd shout DADDY!
Tata: She went from summoning the help to issuing her own ransom demands?
Daria: I'm used to it but he thought she was furious.
Tata: I'd be furious too if my Chief Admirer found something tacky to do like, say, making a living. Tsk! Tsk!
Daria: She doesn't say much - but then it's DADDY!
Tata: Maybe if you quit shouting she'd learn an Indoor Voice less appropriate for the Kentucky Derby.

Don't worry. She's not actually listening and I'm not really heckling her parenting. I'd only do that from a safe distance - say, the width of the Atlantic. In the meantime, I've filled up the dishwasher, rinsed pans for the next load and set up a salad. Daria's set up the bain marie, lit the Sterno pots and arranged the buffet. Mom and Dad didn't so much raise children as a kitchen crew they could only fire a few times. As the dust cleared in the kitchen, Dad's wife Darla -

It's a freaking Italian family. Our ancestors rearranged the same half-dozen names over and over for centuries, even as families joined and joined with families from other traditions and so forth. When someone squawks a familiar, "Hey, Dar!" three people mutter, "What..?" The same thing happens when someone says, "Hey, Dom!" or "Yo, Tony!" If it's confusing, one of these days, I'll make you a seating chart and paper dolls. Moving on, then.

- offered a gift to Miss Fifi in the living room. Miss Fifi has attained the correct age to enjoy tearing wrapping paper to shreds Auntie I. will be vacuuming up for years to come. I am surprised when she opens the box and cares what's inside: a new outfit! Miss Fifi grabs the very frou-frou dress and matching sweater and runs for her mother, who steps out of the kitchen, sees the happy baby and shouts in an air traffic-disrupting voice heard for miles, "WHO'S PRETTY!"

If only I had it on film...


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