Monday, December 20, 2004

Dancin' Fools

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This morning as my son and I were waking up, I noticed a weird smell. Not exactly bad, but not exactly good. I mean it didn't smell like the neighbors' occasional sausage and eggs. My son thought it smelled like a skunk. Hmm. We went downstairs and the weird smell turned out to be the lentils I'd been cooking in the crockpot. They'd swelled up so much they were pushing against the lid of the crockpot, but they weren't burnt. I removed two-thirds of the beans and added beef, stewed tomatoes, seasoning and water. I'll probably add some carrots later. If I had other veggies in the fridge I'd add those, too, but this will have to do for now. I think I've been spoiled by my first crockpot cooking attempt—beef stew—which turned out wonderfully. The other two things I've tried in the crockpot have been less than great. I suppose if I actually referred to a recipe things would turn out a lot better, but it's fun to experiment. ;-)


I called my sister this morning to get suggestions on what to do with a package of waterlogged lentils, and the conversation drifted to last night's visit from my brother and his girlfriend. My son had been thrilled at their presence, and wanted to show them "all the things in our house." He put on quite a show, kicking soccer balls in the house, demonstrating toys and all but forcing them to participate in arts and crafts. He just loves having a new audience.

I asked my sister if she remembered the little shows we used to put on for my parents in our basement in Illinois, and she said she remembered them only vaguely. This wasn't the first time something like this had come up. "Am I the only one who had this childhood?" I asked. "You're the oldest, so you have the most memories of that stuff," she said.

She did remember buying a Shirley Temple record with her own money when we were kids. Not that we grew up in the era of Shirley Temple; we're not that old. Rather, it was on sale at Toys 'R' Us and I suppose the money was burning a hole in her pocket. We had lots of records as kids, but nothing popular. My folks liked the old standbys, like Barbra Streisand and the Carpenters, and my dad liked marching band music and show tunes. On weekends he'd crank up the marching music full blast and rattle the windows to wake us up.

We used to put on shows for our folks in our finished basement. Part of the basement had recessed spot lighting, and this made a perfect "stage" for us. We'd raid the dress-up box, which contained odd items like a ladies' turban (!) and my dad's old shirts, and we'd jump around for what seemed like two hours as my parents watched from their "audience chairs" and clapped for us.

We fancied ourselves acrobats and dancers, and we'd cartwheel and hop around with the music. I even had dreams of putting together a gymnastic program we could perform in the public library's talent show, and I had the name all picked out: The Fantastic Elastics. Finding the name was the easiest part, of course. We were limited pretty much to somersaults and cartwheels, not to mention hopping around, and the plan never came to fruition. It sure was fun to imagine, though.

Now that I'm a grownup, I dance for my son. The other night we were watching the "A Charlie Brown Christmas" and the Peanuts gang was gettin' down to Vince Guaraldi's jazzy tunes. I got up to do the Swim and some sort of hopping dance, and my son just watched me out of the corner of his eye as though it's a given that Mommy is a little bit nutso and howzabout we just humor her until she settles down again? The second time the gang started dancing, though, I stayed on the couch...until my son looked at me and said, "Mom! It's time to dance!"

So we did.