Monthly Archives: April 2013

Codetalkers

Way back in the misty leg-warmer Avalon that was the 80’s, the BBC put out a miniseries adaptation of John Le Carre’s “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.” (And yes, there was a star-studded feature film remake a couple years ago, but did you see it? I mean, seriously.) But that series, and its sequel “Smiley’s People” remain two of my favorite things on the small screen.

They’re dense and complicated and understated, and a linguaphile’s dream. They’re speaking English. They’re using the vocabulary, grammar, and idioms shared by the UK, her former (and current) colonies, and sellers of Viagra world-wide. They’re speaking English, but you have no idea what they’re saying. The whole thing is about British spies during the cold war, and being spies, they speak in code. They never refer to anything directly, never state anything explicitly, everything is oblique, hinted at, inverted. The head of the agency is never given a name in the story, he’s just referred to as “Control,” MI-6 headquarters is “The Circus,” an elevator is called “a Lift.”

As a Parent, this speaks to me.

There comes a time, shortly after a little person begins to recognize the names of things, when to utter certain nouns is to promise their delivery. If you so much as breathe the word “zoo” then you’d damn well better have the car seat in and the diaper bag packed, or else you’ll spend the next hour or two trying to explain to a 2 year old that you were referring to U2’s 1993 studio release “Zooropa,” and not the place where the monkeys are.

And yet, one must discuss U2’s catalogue in its entirety, and so a code must be developed.

“Zoo” becomes “Menagerie”

“Banana” becomes “Tropical Fruit”

Locomotive, Arts Institute, Biblioteca – such semantic subterfuge allows parents to discuss trains, museums, or libraries as concepts, without having to deal in base material reality.

And when all else fails, there’s spelling. This, though, can be a dubious prospect, and should be used only as necessary. You have to consider the amount of sleep (or lack thereof) and depleted cognitive ability of your average new parent, and you’ll understand why spelling anything over 4 letters could be more effort than it’s worth.

And of course, he’ll learn to spell eventually. One cannot stand against progress.

Though I may not be thwarting soviet global domination, my motives are nonetheless those of security. Some things are better kept from the general populace. Like my cell phone.

 

 

 

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Are You A Sommelier, or a Sommeli-Ain’t?

‘What does it take to be a father?’ I ask.

“Testicles and a kid” you would answer, if you were like, Don Rickles.

Hilarity was never so hurtful.

But Imaginary Don Rickles isn’t wrong. Not technically. You could add to that list the improv skills of Wayne Brady, 20 years of joint pain meds, and a sharply decreased aversion to other people’s bodily fluids.

And coffee. One and a half-times the gross annual export of Brazil, stretched cup by beautiful black cup over 2 decades. Heck, let’s throw in Kenya there. Nobody ever throws in Kenya. I’m modeling inclusive behavior here.

It takes a lot to be a father, is my point. There are many elements in this sleepy, poorly washed periodic table. And maybe my favorite element (behind coffee and breathing) is beer.

Now I realize this may not speak to everyone as it speaks to me. There are dads out there who don’t drink beer, just as there are parents out there who manage to keep their children from any form of TV or sweets. And I applaud them. With one hand. While I hold my Velvet Rooster Belgian Ale in the other.

I realized right away that I couldn’t get drunk anymore, for the simple reason that caring for an infant while nursing a hangover sounds like nine flavors of fresh hell. But just as nothing saves you from the thought of all the sleep you could be having like an espresso or two at 7am, so nothing calms a worried mind after 9 hours of being a dad and 6 hours of your paying job like a beer or two while you finish the dishes at 12:45am.

And I live in Minnesota, which is quickly becoming the Florence of the Craft Beer Renaisance. Seriously. They’re rewriting the state laws to let these guys do their thing.

And so I thought I’d dedicate this post to the unique pairing of Fatherhood and Craft Beer. As a sommelier pairs a wine with an entrée, so I shall pair a daily daddy duty with a delicious local brew.

Ahem.

Picking up your toddler, I’d pair with Harriet Brewing’s West Side IPA. The sweet, fruity Belgian sugars and yeast match the undeniable sweetness of a two-year old, arms stretched up towards you. While the sharp bitterness of the American hops invoke the awareness of your aching back and the knowledge of how many times you’ll have to repeat this action today.

Late night cooking & cleaning are the province of the Spanish speaking line cook and the new father. Whether your steam cleaning the seafood cooler or scrubbing yogurt off a hi-chair nothing makes it fun like a Summit Great Northern Porter. Like all Summit beers, it excels without drawing attention to itself. It’s the Carhartt work-wear of beer.

For Teething, there is no other beer that will do but Surly Furious. The oral assault of bone piercing gum 30 times over 3-12 months could only be achieved in beer form by the overwhelming taste of the flagship pint of Minnestota Craft Brewing. It’s bitter, it’s malty, it destroys your mouth with awesomeness.

Fulton Worthy Adversary Imperial Stout is a beer that demands consideration, reflection, and by the end of the 22oz-bomber it produces a wit and volubility that’s only appropriate for an audience you’re not immediately answerable to. And thus, it’s perfect for Dad-blogging.

There’s more, of course. There are dozens and dozens of breweries in the state of MN, dozens and dozens in the metro area. I’m only stopping here because I’m down to whiskey and I need to get up in the morning.

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Twenty-One Thousand, Six Hundred Hours. But Who’s Counting?

One of our favorite games recently has been to hide Blue Bear, and then go find her.

“Our” favorite games…everything’s plural with parenthood.

And “Hide” Blue Bear, which of course means setting her down somewhere in plain sight.

Quotation marks, btw, are also part of parenthood. You’ll “love” them.

But the best thing about this particular distraction is when he finds her too early, when he sees her right away and doesn’t have time to proclaim that he can’t find her anywhere and have us suggest some potential search sites before triumphantly discovering just where that bear is.

When he finds her too soon, he gets a huge grin, but tries to disguise it and look away.

It is both adorable and hilarious.

I watch all this, stifling giggles, remarking upon the utter un-findability of certain ursine individuals, and I think about the last 2 and a half years.

30 months.

In 900 days this little man has gone from 6 lbs of bundle and wiggle and squall to this walking, talking, train loving miniature human. He’s tamed and controlled (to an extent) this alien contraption of bone & muscle in which he’s found himself. He’s wrestled a blurry and cold and bright and messy chaos into a functional reality with colors and gravity and dogs that go “woof.” He’s gone from being at the mercy of circumstance and fumbling digestion to being able to communicate clearly his increasingly complicated needs and even says please. He’s grown a sense of humor.

2.5 years. What have I done in 2.5 years? Blogged? Not slept?

I wonder at all this as we play our game and he finds the bear but pretends he doesn’t. And he smiles, and I smile and we have our conspiracy.

And then it occurs to me that in doing this, I’m teaching him to deceive me.

 

Well, shit.

 

 

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