Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Teenager, The Party, The Electronics, and the Helicoptoring Critical Mom

Actually I only helicoptored during breakfast, when I made blueberry pancakes for my three children plus the seven friends of my fourteen-year-old who had spent the night upright and online.  I woke up around four and heard guffaws, realized that they came from downstairs and thought to myself:  they are not outside, they are safe in the living room.  Not one drop of alcohol has been served and no drugs whatsoever, unless you count the freakishly evil characters in the computer game--medieval music spews forth as figures in helmets sprouting antelope horns charge around hacking each other to pieces; blood spurts forth like champagne after a cork hits the ceiling.  Somebody resembling Bill Sykes, complete with big black stovepipe hat brandishes a repeat-fire assault weapon (but then why does he have a quiver filled with arrows strapped to his back?) Bill Sykes goes up in flames just as I hand a pancake to a kid so enthralled with the game that he can barely remember to eat.  
They are all laughing.  They are not drinking, they are not crashing into things in a car, they are not doing drugs.  This is now my mantra.
As the guests began to arrive yesterday afternoon, my fourteen-year-old picked up some gizmo (a gameboy, I believe--we never had one) and said, with an enchanting leer:  "Mommy, you deprived me throughout my childhood!  You only read to me instead of giving me Pokemon games!"
His nine-year-old sister picks up the Complete Works of Goethe lying on the table and reads out a poem she relishes, and has nearly memorized: 

Ein junger Mensch ich weiß nicht wie,
Starb einst an der Hypochondrie
Und ward dann auch begraben.
Da kam ein schöner Geist herbei
Der hatte seinen Stuhlgang frei,
Wie ihn so Leute haben.
Der setzt sich nieder auf das Grab,
Und legt ein reinlich Häuflein ab,
Schaut mit Behagen seinen Dreck,
Geht wohl erathmend wieder weg,
Und spricht zu sich bedächtiglich:
„Der arme Mensch, er dauert mich
Wie hat er sich verdorben!
Hätt' er geschissen so wie ich,
Er wäre nicht gestorben!''

And I think to myself:  yes, that was seventeen well-spent euros.  They are actually reading the Goethe I bought for them.  Thank goodness I got all of Nietzsche on sale for five euros . . . otherwise I'd really be going broke.  Here's a rough translation in modern English:

A young man, I don't know who
Once died of Hypochondria
And was then buried
Along came a handsome ghost
Who really had to go
The way people do
He sat himself down on the grave
And put a nice heap there
Looked comfortably at his poop
With a sigh of relief
And said thoughtfully to himself
The poor guy, I pity him,
How he made things miserable for himself
If he'd pooped like me,
He wouldn't have died. 

It's even more fun in German, a language boasting a long tradition of anal humor.  To which it has no exclusive claim, let me remind you--our own Benjamin Franklin having produced Fart Proudly, available on Amazon:
I must admit, however, that Germans have even more imagination in this department, and if you will take the time to watch their version of Saturday Night Live, you will see what I mean.

P.S. Edward Snowden, don't come home.  Stay safe, now! And continue to save the world from your little eyrie, wherever it might be.  And you know what, PRISM?  You can refract every word of what I've ever written, said, and probably even thought every which way, but you will not find any knowledge of this brave young man's location. 
I hope everyone has read the May 13, 2013 NYRB review of  Seth Rosenfeld's book about J.Edgar Hoover and the Berkeley Free Speech Movement: see 
for information about the book, and think of Edward Snowden's lonely battle. Why is a president who wanted a transparent government going after a lone hero who is into transparency?  Why we talking about those cute cupcake photos of Snowden's girlfriend instead of his discoveries?

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