Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Open House

Eli's school had a "P.E. Open House" on Friday.

Those of you who have read this "entertaining" feature for any length of time will not be surprised to learn that I managed to injure myself.

There was a long bar, fifteen feet long or so, and one of the activities was to crawl up a curling ladder, swing all the way along the bar, then slide down a smooth board at the other end. I didn't see many parents in line to do this with their kids, even though we'd been told that all the equipment was "grown-up proof."

That was true. Unfortunately, while the equipment might have been adult-proof, I forgot to remember that I am not child-proof.

So I'm in line behind Eli, and I swing across without any embarrassing moments. Right behind, Gloria is impressively swinging around like George of the Jungle, and she makes it, too.

This entire feat of derring-do took less than fifteen seconds.

That was all fine until I started swimming Saturday morning and felt a burning pain in my right tricep after about six hundred yards.

Hmm, what the hell could that be? I haven't done anything that could have...


I'm just glad I didn't try the hula hoop--I would have blown out a hammy for sure.

This may seem like an incredibly strange incident to you--if you're under forty. Trust me, once you hit forty (or, sadly, forty-five), your body turns into that twenty-five cent balsa wood plane with the rubber band propeller. Wind it up once, launch it, and the second it hits the ground, it explodes.

Later that day, on the way home from school, we stopped to get some ice cream, and there was a toymaker in the same shopping center, and they make wooden toys. We stopped by for a look, and Eli played with a wooden train while Gloria and I walked toward the back of the tiny shop.

That's when Gloria picked up a special musical instrument. "What is this?" she asked, holding it up.

"That--is a Chokwe thumb piano," I said nonchalantly.

"No way," she said.

"An ancient Central African tribe," I said. "They speak Bantu."

"And yet you can't find your car keys," she said pointedly.

What I couldn't tell her of course, is that I know about the Chokwe thumb piano because of gaming. I was one of maybe nine people in the world who bought the Philips CD-i system.

As noted previously, I have poor impulse control.

One of the very few interesting discs ever released for the system was titled "Treasures From the Smithsonian," and it was fantastic. All I can remember today, though, is the segment on the Chokwe thumb piano, which basically looks like the metal tines of a tiny rake attached on top of a wooden box (except for the curved portions of the tines, the rake section is flat on the box). The tines are then plucked to make sound.

It sounds like this.

"It's not a thumb piano," Gloria said, holding up the box. "It says it's a kalimba."

Ouch. Scoreboard denied.

I walked over to the newly-dubbed kalimba and picked up the packaging.

"Hey," I said, reading from the packaging, "this musical instrument is commonly called a kalimba, sansa, or thumb piano."

Heh. Scoreboard restored.

"Refer to my previous comment about the car keys," she said.

On our way back to the car, I was holding Eli's hand and we started to walk up some stone steps. He slipped, and I thought he might take a nasty fall, but instead he just hung on to my hand and stopped inches short of the steps. "SAVED BY THE ARM!" he shouted with glee.

We kept walking toward the car. "Dad," he said, did you know that Alex put a BOOGER between his TOES to attract the girls?"

There was a dramatic pause.

"And it WORKED!" he shouted.

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