Sunday, October 02, 2005

Ito! The Rolls! We're Going To Annapolis

Yesterday was spent in Annapolis with my friend, Tammy. The original plan had been for us to wander around town, do a little shopping, and visit Metropolitan, a new restaurant with lovely al fresco dining. Our plans were diverted when Tammy took over the watching of her nieces, so I got to take her two little charges under my wings and become Auntie Cubie for the day. I met up with Kate (age 7) and her sister Halley (age 11) while they were getting their hair cut. Kate sat next to me in the salon with her American Girl doll, Abigail, and plotting out our day, as she saw it. "You'll sit in the back seat with me, and we'll do different hair styles for Abigail. See? I've got her hair brush, hair ornaments and book to show us how. Do you know how to braid?" I assured her I did know how to plait hair and that we could make Abigail look quite glamorous.

Kate and Abigail in front of pink oleander

Honest to God, on our drive to the restaurant, the children were saying "Are we there yet?" Halley is the serious one. Bookish, a natural athlete, and she takes everything you say to heart. I drew her out on her passions of penguins, origami and anime. Kate is very girly and loves clothes, makeup, dolls, and theatrics. The last time I saw Kate she approached me with a large shawl, and I had to wrap and rewrap her into different styles, so she could then go and admire the results in a mirror while she played out her varying "looks." I've known both girls for some time now, and it's interesting to see their relationship to one other. Halley is very much the responsible older sister who tolerates her sister's penchant for drama. Kate demands your constant attention as her audience, but with great charm. While in the backseat, I consulted Kate as to the hairstyles she wanted for Abigail, while telling Tammy and Halley how I had given off playing with dolls at a very young age. Six? Halley proudly announced that she had given them up at age two. I said to Tammy, "...and this is my punishment for giving up on them so early." I gave Abigail her plaits, and Kate said, "You did that really fast." I told her, "I don't do everything fast," and Tammy shot me a look in the rearview mirror.

While we were giving our orders, Kate (who also has excellent reading skills) noted the specials and asked the waitress what the martini of the day was. It was peach, and Kate said, "I'll have that." It reminded me so much of the comedic novel Auntie Mame by Patrick Dennis when through Mame's teachings her young nephew learns how to mix a "mean little martini with the memory of vermouth." Kate had very specific ideas on how she wished her salad to be prepared and which rolls she would and would not eat. I've seen such bad behaviors over time in varying restaurants observing other people's children running between tables unattended, and it was such a joy to sit with two articulate children and hear their viewpoints and reasonings.

The cover of my copy of the 1955 Auntie Mame

After dinner, we visited a Barnes & Noble where I was physically hauled through the store looking for Kate's books. We chose four for her and again, it was pl
easurable to share an undersized stool while she flipped through each book weighing it's pro's and con's in terms of interest to her. A little toddler came up to us and kept trying to pick up Kate's books and put them in his mouth. She shot him such a look of disapproval, I had to laugh, but she didn't speak up to stop him. She waited for his mother to control him. She was more interested in making sure I knew what she already had and what she needed in the Junie B books. I saw one Academy Plebe walk by me with his arm full of books, and I admit I did think "cute." Later, a friend said to me, "What did he look like," and I couldn't provide much detail. I said, "How much could I take in when I had a seven-year old tugging on my arm and pulling me along?" As a treat, I bought Halley a book that teaches you how to draw anime figures as well as a 2006 18-month calendar with penguins, issued by the World Wildlife Fund.

She had seen March of the Penguins, and she told me how sad it made her to see the penguins under attack and dying, but she has a scientific mind, and she understands nature and is acceptant of the order of things. We talked about Antarctica, her desire for a new computer, and sumi-e, the art of Japanese calligraphy. I told Halley I had always wanted to go to Antarctica someday. She said, "But there's nothing there. It's just cold and empty." I said, "Yes, but maybe the interest is in seeing if you can withstand those conditions and survive. There is also the contemplation of void and nothingness at being at the extreme of the earth in deserts." She paused and said, "I can see that." I have a sumi-e paint set myself, so I had Halley explain to Tammy what it is and how it works: how you make your own ink and use bamboo brushes. She gave such detail about the dragons carved on the ink blocks and how you prepare ink. She never fails to amaze me. Tammy paid me a compliment later when she said that I was like honey to the children and that I drew them to me. I'm rarely around children, so for me, the feeling was mutual. I love being around them and really listening to them.

The Naval Academy seen from a pier

Annapolis is a town where you cannot escape the water and the boats. There are boats dry docked where you park your car, there are boats next to the windows where you eat, and there are all of those beautiful young Naval Academy Plebes in their whites. I drove home on Route 50, sated with my day and remembering Auntie Mame's famous quote, "Life is a banquet--and most poor suckers are starving." I also remembed a quote from her author, Patrick Dennis (Edward Everett Tanner), "I always start writing with a clean piece of paper and a dirty mind."

Auntie Cubie's delicious little cocktail


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cubie, I wish I could join you in Annapolis for a backfin lump crabcake... last week you were making me yearn for Temple Dogs guarding me for eternity, now it's for just a crabcake on the city dock, what's next ?

1:07 AM  
Blogger Megarita said...

Fabulous story. Love the kid time when it produces good content! I jest...

8:15 AM  
Blogger cs said...

Children have incredible perspectives on the world. There's something wildly original about all of their imaginations, and I wonder where it is that most of us get that uniqueness pounded out of us. Is it school? Is it language itself? Is it all of those nasty ideological state apparatuses?

You put the story together wonderfully, and there you were trying to get double entendres by the kids while riding in the car.

10:08 AM  
Blogger Phil said...

I think I am looking forward to getting to know my two girls as they grow...

10:18 AM  
Blogger Washington Cube said...

Phil? Children are fascinating, and I know you will be the kind of father always doing the outrageous to the point they are saying, "Daaaaddddd."

10:42 AM  
Blogger cs said...

Trust me, I will be embarrassing my children when they get old enough. I learned all the tricks from my father.

11:08 AM  
Blogger A Unique Alias said...

I heard that there was some sort of boat show going on up at Annapolis this weekend - - I wonder if you got to catch the ramp-up for it.

. . . shocked to hear that an 11 year old knows about sumi-e.

3:02 PM  

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