Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Made a mistake and kissed a snake

The scripts we read from as grownups are written on the playground. And these scripts are often inherited from our primordial parents. Saint Nick and Valentine's Day have creepy pasts. And most of our fairy tales have passed through the Grimm filter where their brutality was either concentrated or highlighted.

But in the short term, most fairy tales are inherited from our parents. And in our family this happens rather unevenly. Our children, spending most of their childhood outside of the US, have gotten most of their "American-ness" from their parents. And it is a weird time-warp sort of America filled with Brady Bunch and Bonanza and Mork & Mindy. Sometimes we try to suppress things that we'd rather not pass on to them. In a strange bender on the normal genders, Hilary once started singing, "Beans beans the musical fruit. The more you eat the more you toot. The more you toot the better you feel. Beans beans with every meal." I stopped her at about "fruit" but that was enough for our scatological sons. They are unsure about the remainder of the rhyme but they can guess!

While Hilary is teaching the kids flatulant poetry, I have been passing on jump rope rhymes. The kids are all learning to jump rope. This is something that I now think is really cool since in high school I watched all those boxers in the Rocky movies doing all that macho twirling. But as a kid, jump rope was only for girls. Still, I remember one of the rhymes. So when I grabbed the rope and started hopping I couldn't do it without singing, "Cinderella, dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss a fella. Made a mistake and kissed a snake. How many doctors did it take?"

Cinderella's name is derived from the word for "ashes." And encapsulated within that little rhyme is the entire Gospel. We have a heavenly "fella" who turns out to be a snake (the basis of countless Country Western songs). And the doctor refers to the Great Physician as well as Dear Abby. We don't think about such things when we're children. But I think they lodge in our brains and guide our destiny. Cinderella's granddaughters are trapped in boxes in the sidebar of Yahoo mail. Christina is always over there beckoning with her free video. Will she be freed by my visit or will I be enslaved? Such is the mystery of Grendel's mother. When Beowulf descends into the watery depths, how many doctors will it take to repair him from the wound of their encounter?

It's all myth and metaphor, I know. But somehow I think Mr. Brady has as much to tell us as Aristotle. Ben Cartwright's wives and Mork with his mixed emotions (with Mr. Bickley downstairs) are the fairy tales that constrain our happy endings. I'm glad my kids have skipped Bart Simpson and Seinfeld. When they return to America I hope they are able to improvise their own rescues like MacGyver with his Swiss Army knife.


J. K. Gayle said...

not a bad post for someone who lets "feminists scare the poop out of" him. Boo!

did someone say you're an English major?

PS#1 Mr. Brady is Aristotle reincarnated, which is why children in America need the Simpsons.

PS2 Seinfeld is in reruns over here; the Brady Bunch is just in the memory of the Obama generation.

PS3 Digital natives don't care about reruns.

David Ker said...

In my particular micro-culture I can get away with "poop" so there you have it (although Hilary wrinkled her nose at me).

I tried to make you laugh and make you mad. If I only succeeded in one I hope it was the first.

And I checked this bloody blog about 50 times today waiting for you to comment. I'm such a loser!

J. K. Gayle said...

I am mad, but (if I'm also laughing) let's not say you made me do anything.

50 x / 1 day? I thought I was the loser for trying to sneak in 5 posts.

Oh, and I've changed my profile pic, not bc u made me, mind you. Rather because with your hippo fetish, you need to read the great feminist work, But Not The Hippopotamus by the great Sandra Boynton. Order it from amazon.com immediately, and accept my apologies for not recommending it when you were so wealthy with online bookstore bucks. While you're waiting for the mail, read the first line and the punchline at Ellen Clair Lamb's blog Answer Girl. And hold onto your pants. Then go check comments at one of the other myriad blogs you're still hoping to dominate with sly sexist posts. Nuf instructions for the day.

"kinder and gentler feminism"...sheeshhhh

David Ker said...

I can't make out the picture. Is it Baloo dancing in front of a jubjub tree? I miss the cute family shot.

Uh, I can't think of anything clever to say since the coffee hasn't kicked in. Maybe I'll try again later...

David Ker said...

"some other guy" Hey I just noticed that. Not sure what title I'd prefer? chauvinist in training? closet feminist? egalitarian trying to recover his complementarianism? transcendent lingamishtic...ah, I think I like that.

J. K. Gayle said...

Yes, it's you dancing behind the jubjub tree. Come on out. (and do notice the closer pic of the hippo hiding needlessly and now your new title, for now).

David Ker said...

I can almost make it out. Post a larger image on the web and I'll clean it up for you and make a nice avatar.

And it should be pre-Seinfeldishtic dingalinga since I have never owned a TV. The last one I watched was in at home as a child in the 80's.

J. K. Gayle said...

To find your hippo hiding, make sure you turn on "safesearch" first, then go here.

You know how to name yourself over there.

But since you've got so much time on your hands, first take in a little post-tee-vee Seinfeld, and yes first turn on the profanity guards.