Friday, September 08, 2006

Book the Potato

Thanks to everyone who commented on Sketch Pad.

Funny thing about this blog: it gets a gazillion hits every day. Email floods my inbox. But very few readers make comments. I wouldn’t think this odd, but I read so many blogs where the most dunderheaded pronouncements will garner dozens of reactions.

I write smut like a motherfucker, but if it weren’t for dear Avah and some other stalwart devotees, my blog would seem populated by myself, my battered thesaurus and a few tumbleweeds. Where’s the love, people?

It’s the first Friday night of the new academic year. Collie and Lillie are being schooled in the fine art of playing hooky by “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” while Jason is sleeping over at a friend’s place after his third straight afternoon of after-school pick-up football in the park.

I believe my twelve-year-old son has matured into the peer socialization phase of adolescence. Or, to put it another way, I can’t be far from debating such venerated topics as, “I don’t have to do that! Michael’s mom never makes him do anything!”

Collie wanted a pair of back-to-school shoes with wheels in the heels, called Heelys. Wheels are forbidden during school hours, but before and after, he pops them in and glides the sidewalks like the Silver Surfer. He will no doubt be discovered and spirited away by Shaun White, if Peter Martins doesn’t snatch him first.

Lillie’s second grade teacher, Ms. Lowenthal, happens to have been Jason’s fourth grade teacher. In the public schools, fourth grade social studies focuses on local history, a subject near and dear to my heart, so Ms. Lowenthal and I have had many discussions of New York City history.

Apparently, her interest carries over to teaching her new charges.

As we rode the bus home from school, Lillie said, “Did you know that so many Irish people died because there were no potatoes? Isn’t that so sad?” Her voice was a solemn whisper.

“In fact, I did know that,” I said. “Did you learn that in school today?”

Lillie nodded. “Ms. Lowenthal said that. She said a lot of people came from Irish because there were no potatoes there. And now they are all babysitters.”

I laughed.

“It’s true,” she insisted. “Four kids in my class have babysitters who are from Irish.”

“They are Irish, smart girl,” I smiled. “But they are from Ireland.”

“Ireland, right, right.” Lillie looked out the window. “Potato. Puh-TAA-to. Potato, potato, potato.”

“You like that word, huh?”

“It’s funny.” She paused a moment, thinking. “Hey Dad, how do they cook potatoes in Irish?”

“Ireland, honey. Well, these days, they cook them lots of ways. But back in the old days, I guess they boiled them or baked them. I think they made potato pies, maybe? Maybe they mashed them. They probably didn’t cook french fries or potato chips, because I’m not sure those things were invented yet.”

Lillie nodded, not really listening to my extemporaneous and unschooled lecture on potatoes and their history. She hummed, and then repeated, “Potato, potato, potato.”

She sat looking out the window as I finished and watched the streets go by.

“And Dad!” she suddenly exclaimed. “Did you know the world’s oldest lady lives in New York?”

“She does? I didn’t know that.”

“Yes! She’s so old and no one is taking care of her. Isn’t that so sad?”

“That is sad. Why wouldn’t anyone take care of . . . oh wait, do you mean Brooke Astor?” I recalled recent tabloid headlines about a lawsuit concerning the care of the aged philanthropist and socialite.

“Yes, yes!” Lillie replied, bouncing in her seat. “Book Astor.”

“I didn’t realize she was the oldest living woman, but yes, she’s very old—I think she’s a hundred and four or something.”

Lillie laughed. “That’s so old! Does she have any hair?”

“She had hair the last time I saw her.”

Lillie looked at me. “You know Book Astor?” Her voice was low and serious.

“Well, I’ve met her, yes. She was very nice.” I wasn’t sure how to explain that Brooke Astor has spent eight decades or so meeting everyone in New York City. She was bound to get to me at some point, even if she was just working her way through the phone book.

Lillie’s eyes were locked on mine. “Dad, can we please meet her? Please?”

When we arrived at home, Lillie asked me to Google a photograph of Brooke Astor.

“Is that your friend?”

“Yes, that’s Brooke Astor.”

Lillie looked for a moment. Then she scooped up Boo Boo and went off to zone out to television. When she grew bored, she arranged her stuffed animals into a classroom. She asked me if she could “borrow” two Idaho baking potatoes from the pantry.

With a red waterproof marker, she drew a face on each potato, designating one a boy and the other a girl. The girl potato was given a red dot on her forehead.

“Everyone, pay attention,” she said, holding the girl potato before her menagerie. “This is Book Astor, the world’s oldest lady. She is Dad’s best friend.”


Jefferson said...

Thanks Avah!

And the tumbleweeds go doo do doo do doo do do doo..

Jefferson said...

You do know from tumbleweeds, Avah.

You know, you may think this is the first time Brooke Astor's photo has appeared in a sex blog. But you should've seen the blog chatter when Brooke married Vincent.

Speaking of kids saying the darnedest things, I believe that phrase was originated by Art Linkletter. Ask about him in your art history class.

Mitzi said...

Alright Jefferson old boy, I think its time I come clean. I'm Brooke Astor.

Jefferson said...

Mitzi! This explains your closet of sensible, yet fashionable, flats.

Marie said...

Your Lillie and my youngest should meet...the conversations would be enough for their own blog...

and yes ~ I decided to be brave.

Brookie A. said...

Yes Dear. Now HELP! Get me out of this squalor. Tony's absolutely trying to do me in!

And dear, while you're up and getting me my tea would you bring me my mothers lace shawl and cameo, I like to have them near by while you tie me up and pound me hard with your massive member. After all, we are best friends. Thank you most kindly.

Jefferson said...

Marie, thanks for being brave. I hope you gain courage from having your insights in this dialogue.

I know it's kind of exposed, especially when others are being silly.

As for you, Brookie A., get back in your crate.

twofistededitor said...

I think that many people do not comment because they don't necessarily think of blogging as an interactive process. The majority of people don't write to the authors of the books they read, and I find that many people view blogging as that same type of one-way communication.

Also, it can be a little intimidating to put your words where other people can see (and perhaps judge) them. If a person is courageous enough to comment, they often have their own blog, which has emboldened them.

Sorry for the exposition, but it's something I've been thinking about lately.

Ellie said...

Wow, insanely adorable. I love the way that kids translate things in their minds.

ngi said...

It's a lot easier to leave comments on a blog of inane rubbish. If the writing is good there's an anxiety about lowering the standards.

Also, how many of your readers are anglophone? It's a lot easier to read a foreign language than to comment in one

Goose and Gander said...

Don't you worry about the love, Jefferson. We love you plenty. Just wish we could get to NY and find you!
And on the topic of children, your smart little girl and my smart little boy would have some seriously interesting conversations.......

Lolita said...

OK I will take a walk on the wild side and comment. Wheeee! I am enjoying your blog.

Zora said...

So you're resorting to guilt to draw us reluctant (or would it be recalcitrant) posters out of the shadows? Fair enough.

Watch out for when Lillie starts asking you why you don't take better care of your best friend Brooke Astor. I hope you have a good explanation.

Lioness said...

Hey! I thought it was only folks who had blogger accounts who could comment! Wow!
Anyhow, longtime reader psyched to be commenting. Hi G+G! Wow, there will be much more commenting from me now that I know I CAN.

rowan said...

I refuse to be goaded into commenting. I will comment when I'm damn good and ready, Jefferson. So there.

Oh, wait . . .

Ooooo, sneaky!

Jefferson said...

That's right, Lioness. Anyone can comment.

Thanks to everyone who is taking the plunge into the pool of commenters. It's more fun when everyone gets wet.


Mishe said...

I have loved reading your blog, from start to finish...and reread some of the really good parts. Your words have made this Kansas City girl look to a move to NYC sometime in the near future!

Bad Kitty said...


I check in every other day or so; I enjoy your writing, whatever it happens to be about that day.
I think the reason I don't comment is this; you don't seem to be asking any questions, your self-confidence and self-knowledge are so complete, I don't really feel that I have very much to add. It's sort of that you don't seem to Need comments. . . does that make sense?
That notwithstanding, I am enjoying going through the archives and wanking to the stories. . . Thanks!
I'll try to let you know when I enjoy something most particularly.

Cdk said...

Wheee..rare poster here. :) (the last time I posted I think was on the KFC entry).

Anyways, excellent choice on the movie. Ferris Bueller should be required veiwing...

Chrissy said...

Lillie is so cute. She reminds me so much of my little cousin Sierra. Last Saturday we went to town, that included Wal-mart(future shopaholic there) and then to the beauty shop. But before we left home, she had a bowl of raisin bran. I was explaining to her about raisins & grapes and plums and prunes. It was so neat to tell her the differences, because I take for granted that she doesn't know these new and exciting things.

Oh by the way, your blog would never become one where tumbleweeds tumble around. You're the cool New Yorker for goodness sakes! That's something in my book. ;-)

Christina said...

As you know from my Emails that I am one of your biggest fans ( as I see it from the number of comments, I am not the only fan)...I check in EVERYDAY hoping to find a new entry of yours.BTW I agree with is fun when everyone gets wet!! SO I will jump in more!

Dozer said...

Jefferson -- I don't write comments in the backs of books I love to read time and again. The same goes for your blog. You can rest assured that whenever your literary quality starts lacking, or you life isn't interesting any more to us faithful readers, this particular one will comment on that. Lean back for now and enjoy the quietness of the readers who appreciate quality and drift off into their own deep thoughts, instead of leaving the typical bad grammar one-liners that so very often adore blogs.

(Also, Firefox doesn't reveal the "ID letters" that commentators have to type in to verify they are not a spambot. So... I've temporarily switched to IE to tell you this, and I feel very unprotected indeed.)

Bianca said...

Okay, so perhaps I haven't left a comment yet. But you know I've been reading.

As for Lillie, she sounds so adorable!

Viviane said...

"Hello, my name is Jefferson, and I am a comment whore."

"Hello Jefferson!"

Leslee said...

Showing you love Jefferson...just discovered your blog, and I enjoy your writing style and its contents!

I'm wet now too! Not that kind of wet, yet. hahahahaha!