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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Story on the Spot

I grew up with several great tellers of stories. Our grandfather was always willing to oblige us, when my sisters and I were little, with stories of three _______ [fill in the blank with whatever animal we chose at the moment]. He would spin wonderful fanciful yarns for us about those three sister animals. Our mother created a love-to-criticize-her character named Gwendolyn Hershey who was really quite the naughtiest little girl you could ever imagine -- though nearly always inadvertently. Boy, could she make a mess, though.

So it is perhaps not much of a surprise that in our house we are now developing a little library of fictional characters whose serial adventures I'm commanded to produce whenever the whim strikes Son. (I'm sure Daughter will be in on the requests soon enough, as she already enjoys listening.) For a while, we had the Ten Tigers. They were all quite fierce, and lived in the jungle -- or sometimes the mountains, or occasionally by the sea, and once on a pirate ship -- but the fiercest of all was of course named after Son, and he was the leader.

We've left the Ten Tigers by the wayside for a while now, in favor of a good long run of Boy Without A Head stories. I know, it sounds macabre and awful. Sorry. It's really very matter-of-fact. In any given story, the poor boy seems to have access to most of the faculties that are contained in a head. He can always think and talk and hear. Sometimes the problem is that he cannot see. Most often, though, the biggest inconvenience of not having a head has to do with props. It's hard to be Pirate Captain when you have no head on which to perch your pirate hat, for example. He did go shopping at the Head Store in one early episode, but the sales clerk kept handing him heads for other creatures (elephant, ant, robot), and none of them really suited him, so he finally gave up. He's quite a happy boy and has magnificent adventures with a level of absurdity really only possible when one has to do things like navigate a rocket without being able to see outer space at all.

Most recently, we've added to our character library Squiffy the Ghost. Don't ask where the name came from, as I haven't a clue. This morning on the way to take the kids to daycare, I was asked to produce a Squiffy story. (Everything I tell, by the way, is made up on the spot, open to serious revision by the listeners, and encourages all manner of participation in the form of, in this case, long exclamatory group sighs of "Ohhhhhh, Squiff-fffeeeeee!!")

So I launched into a story about the absurd foods that Squiffy has been craving lately, such as peanut butter on watermelon. (In unison now: "Squiff-fffeeeeee!! THAT does not sound delicious!") Squiffy's mother, tiring of this ridiculous food, requested that he choose something else for her to make. He, of course, chose meatballs with lollipops inside. He thought they sounded delicious. She was understandably dubious, but made them anyway. He launched in with delight only to find [insert chomping, smacking, eating noises] after a few bites, that the awkwardness of the lollipop sticks really made this particular recipe less than desirable. The story wound up with a pasta concoction involving macaroni, M&M's and apricots. It looked revolting, as you might imagine, due to the jumbled-up rainbows of candy-coating color streaking the noodles. But, according to Squiffy at least, it tasted magnificent. Ohhhhhh, Squiff-fffeeeeee!! there's no accounting for your tastes.

Anyway, I finished the story and Son immediately asked, "Mama, can I have that for my next birthday?"

"What?" I asked, not sure what that referred to.

"Meatballs with lollipops inside."

I started to laugh. "No, silly. We don't eat meatballs with lollipops inside." I, foolish mama, was thinking of how gross it would be to encounter glassy chunks of lime and grape flavored candy inside a savory meatball.

Son's response? Hurridly, and very matter-of-fact, "No, mama. No. Without the sticks. You could just sliiiide the lollipop off the stick. We wouldn't eat the sticks. Without the sticks. Can I mama? Can I have them?"

Which makes me wonder, just a little: does he also think it's possible -- albeit somewhat inconvenient -- to run around without a head?


Sandy C. said...

Haha! I love his imagination and this idea of storytelling. My daughter would love this!

"Without the sticks." But of course!

Insta-mom said...

First of all...total admiration because by bedtime I am way too tired to do anything but open whatever book they put in my lap.

Also, too funny. Didn't you hear that heads are totally optional? The hat industry is launching a huge pro-head marketing campaign.

ConverseMomma said...

Ohhhhhh! You are just truly lovely. I know this sounds cheesy, but I love that you do this. I once followed a mother around a museum, before I had kids of my own, listening to her spin stories to her children. I vowed to be that mommy, too. Your children are so blessed, and your families pretend stories should be bound into books and sold on every shelf.

foolery said...

Ohhhhhhhh, Squiffffffffeeeeeeee! You HAVE to make the meatballs! Only instead of lollipops, how about olives? Almost as good.

Will you adopt me?

Ree said...

Hey, I'm watching a grill show where the guy is grilling lamb burgers with goat cheese melted inside - served in a pita.

I can deal with meatballs and lollipops. ;-) but of course, without the sticks!

MommyTime said...

Ree, at least goat cheese and burgers are both savory. The mixing of savory and sweet is a little trickier, and I think should happen in the manner of sauce rather than candy hidden in meat...but that's just me.

Foolery, we will, of course, adopt you. Assuming you come with lots of funny stories to add to the collection.

Conversemomma, you are very sweet.

Sandy and Insta-mom, isn't it great what kids can come up with? Insta-mom, I'm laughing about the hat industry campaign!


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