Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Afternoon With Madeleina

Well, I had to go to Walmart to send money to Peru today to pay for cabins for my guests on the riverboat we'll use in June. Damn! they've gotten expensive. I spent $300 for them and then paid my man Juan to collect and pay the funds and suddenly I'm $350 in the hole. Next couple of weeks I'll have to pay another $650 to send toilet paper, water, gasoline, kerosene and so forth up the river.
Forget that. Today I picked up Madeleina from school at 3:35. I was 20 minutes late. Caught in an important interview I forgot about her till I looked at the computer clock and realized how late I was.
"Got to go. I've forgotten my daughter. I'll call you tommorow," I told the media rep from the Secretary of State for the US in DC. He understood.
Madeleina got into the car grumpy. "Dad, I had my wig taken yesterday but I got it back today. Can I wear it tomorrow?"
"Of course, baby. Anything to piss the school off. So long as you maintain 90s."
"That's easy, dad. The hard part is keeping on surprising people. But that's the best part. But don't tell me...are we going to Walmart?"
"No. Just Two Bucks to buy a couple of mini Jim Beams..."
"I hate you, dad..."
So I turned up the radio real real loud. So loud you couldn't hear yourself burp, and told her: "If you want to complain about me, now is the time. I can't hear you so say what you want."
She turned the radio off.
"What did you say?"
"I said I wasn't in the mood to hear complaints, so if you want to complain about me, let me turn the radio up full and then complain to your heart's content. How's that?"
"Turn it up, chicken. You don't have the 'you know whats' to hear my complaints, Dad..."
I did and she started screaming. I felt they were insults but fortunately, I couldn't hear a thing as the pounding out of Stairway To Heaven completely drowned her out. Thank goodness.
Some time later she was talking about Indians. I think it was brought up because of one of the 15 books she's currently reading, but I'm not sure since my ears were ringing from my "Drown out your daughter's complaints" experiment.
"So dad, tell me about Indian names. Didn't Indians have secret names? Didn't your dad, my grandpa, who grew up with the Roundhead in Washington and the Sioux in the Dakotas, have a secret name?"
"Yes, baby. Tom (my father) was given the name "He who kills the snake" when he was 14 or so, after his horse got spooked, knocked him off and he accidentally fell on the rattle snake that spooked the horse."
"You mean he didn't actually try to kill the snake? I always thought you said he was brave?"
"He was brave, darling. But in that case he happened to fall on the snake. That doesn't make him not brave, it just makes him lucky, and that's why we have that beautiful Sioux headdress and the rugs and such that they gave him for saving the chief's son."
"But he didn't do anything! He fell off a horse that was spooked and killed a snake! That's nothing!"
"To you. To the chief's son, it was evidently a lot. Better to be lucky than good, they say..."
"What about other Indian names? You have a lot of friends who are not Indians who have Indian names. Were they just lucky too?"
"Hmmmm....Well, I'd say they were...I don't know. Sometimes people just fall in love with something from another culture and want to be part of it. You know what I'm gettin at?"
"You mean they made them up?"
"No. Way too harsh. But let's see...I guess they met an Indian who gave them those names, that's all. Like did you ever notice that people who talk about past lives generally come up with things like: 'I was Nefertiti', or 'I was a Celtic warrior', but rarely come up with, 'I was a garbage man in 14 past lives,' or 'I used to collect the cow dung so the cooks could make chapati,' and so forth?"
"Right. Most people only remember their glorious past lives..."
"Right. But most of the world are worker bees. We collect dung, write stories, do dishes, carry stones...not many people in any society do anything more glamorous than that. Still, most people don't tell you about those past lives. They tell you about when they were Cleopatra.....c'omon, how many people were Cleopatra? I know 12 and there was only one, so at least 11 are full of it. And there are probably ten million more whom I don't know who think they were Cleopatra, but the reality is only one person, at the most, had a past life as that girl. So the rest are faking it, or were given false information."
"So what does that have to do with Indian names?"
"Well, whenever you meet a white person who aspires to be a Native American Indian they almost always tell you that their secret name, given to them by their shaman teacher, is something like 'Vision Seeker,' or 'Strong Buffalo Child,' or 'He who knows the night,' or some such."
"What's wrong with that? Those are beautiful names. I wish I had a name like that. I mean a secret name. Something only you and mom knew..."
"You do."
"I do? I do? I don't believe you! You're lying, you stinking dad! You never told me!"
"Of course you have a secret name. What do you think?"
"I have a secret name? Oh, my god! I can't believe it! I have a secret name!!!! Tell me what it is! I demand of you, my father, tell me what it is!!!"
"You really want to know? You're allowed to ask, now that you're 12, and I'll have to tell you, but I don't know that you shouldn't wait till you're older..."
"No! Tell me now! I have the right! I demand it!!!"
"For sure?"
"Yes! I command you. I have the right, now that I'm 12 years old!!!"
"Potato Legs."
"Potato Legs."
"What are you saying?"
"That's your name. 'Potato Legs. My lovely little potato legs.' That's what your mom called you when you first sucked on her breast in the hospital, so that's your name."
"Oh, my god! Why did she call me that?"
"Because when I carried you from the heat lamp to her breast, you got there and she said your legs looked like little potatoes. That's all."
"But what about the beautiful names? What about 'She who sees the future?' or 'The one who knows?" or names like that?"
"Those are for white people who get initiated. Real Indian names, in my experience, are more like: 'Poops a lot,' or 'crooked toes', or 'hurt coming out', or 'ugly duck'. Those are real Indian names. 'Eagle Eyes' and 'Visionary' are White People's names."
Madeleina started to laugh. "Was there anybody ever named 'bad breath?' or 'crooked teeth'?"
"Probably. Moms tend to name their kids right after their born, and 'wonderful piano player' is sort of made up compared to 'can't tell if you're a boy or girl', as far as names go..."
"Dad, I have to pee. I can't hold it in. You're making me laugh too much. Stop or I'll whack you."
"That's your second secret name, girl: 'She who whacks her dad.'"
"I am so going to get even with you, you can't imagine. I will cut your goatee off when you are sleeping. I will dye your hair white. I will WIN!"
"That's your last private name, Macaroni. 'One not to cross.'"
"Now you're talking, daddy-o. 'One not to cross.' Oh, yeah. Now that's a name. That's a name."
"I don't know, darling. I sort of like 'potato legs' myself.

1 comment:

Gritter said...

Dude, the wig, the wig! I have to know more about the wig adventure. What a great kid. It took until my third try to get that intelligent irreverence to come out and speak.