The King is dead. Long live the King.
Not that I’m actually an Elvis fan, but I had the
misfortune fortune to marry one. And today, he would have been 73. (It’s also Audra’s birthday, but she never reads my blog so I don’t need to say anything about that)
EDITED TO ADD: Donn would like me to point out that Elvis would have been 73, not Donn.
When I was in college, I actually wrote a deep and meaningful short story about a young man named Elvis Smith, whose mother was one of those girls kissed by Elvis at a concert. It was the highlight of her life and nothing else ever measured up and she named her unfortunate son after the star and he grew up fat and depressed, living a meaningless life (and who can be more cruel on the subject of the meaningless middle-aged than an idealistic early-20s-something?), crushed under the weight of this event. It was packed with symbolism.
Sadly, I lost it ages ago. I didn’t have the sense to see the future humour inherent in my life at the time. Instead, I would reread things months or years later and be filled with deep shame and then throw them out, or occasionally burn them.
Now I read Bub & Pie and Lifenut, who occasionally reprint their jr high diaries, and I’m filled with regret that I burned my old journals from jr high. They were both melodramatic and snide, which can be a hard combination to pull off. Back then, every few months I would reread old entries about my great sorrows and add comments in the margin that were both sarcastic and overemotional AT THE SAME TIME.
I reread these gems when I was about 25 and was depressed about it for weeks. I’d had no idea that I was such an idiot! So, in my deep shame, I burned them, not knowing at the time that everyone is melodramatic and snide and sorrowful, all at the same time, in their teens. Too bad. Although I still don’t think I’d have the guts to share them with the whole internet.
The topic at the table tonight turned to the twins’ birthday, which is March 1. This is actually still a forbidden topic. I do not allow discussions of birthday plans until a month before the actual day, although I have been known to break down at 6 weeks before the blessed date. And we’re close; it‘s about 7 weeks now, right? This is to avoid having to discuss birthday plans for 363 days out of the year. Believe me, there was a need for this rule.
It turns out that the twins, while they LIKE being twins, wish they didn’t share the same birthday. “We never get to have sleepover parties,” said Ilsa, opening her eyes wide. “You did last year!” I protested, privately contemplating my “never again” vow that I made to myself at the time, when they celebrated separately for the first time ever, which meant TWO weekends
spoilt endeared to memory by loud ceaseless merriment.
They discussed the hard issues of being twins, including the terrible fact that there are only 3 meals to be eaten on their birthday. I don’t make them compromise but I do encourage agreement whenever possible; it makes my life simpler. I remember when they turned 4 and Abel wanted Pad Thai and Ilsa wanted pepperoni pizza so we got both; easy enough in Portland (where we were at the time), but a bit more difficult when in Nouakchott, where the choices are basically shwarmas or shwarmas. I usually have to cook, and I prefer to only do that once a day if that, so I don’t like it when Abel wants burritos and Ilsa wants roast chicken and mashed potatoes. And for some reason, he didn’t want chicken and potatoes rolled up in Arabic bread (which we used for tortillas–you tear it in half and it works great).
This year, Abel had an idea to make it easier. “We’ll start with breakfast and then we’ll have second breakfasts,” he said. “Then we’ll have lunch. Then tea. Then dinner, and then supper! We’ll choose 3 meals each!”
The pressure is building already. But I’m determined–no more separate parties. Life is too short, and after all they need things to tell their therapist later in life.
The topic changed to how many chips Elliot could eat at one time. Ilsa made faces at him; he protested the making of faces. Ilsa ate one of her own chips. “Ilsa ate a chip reproachfully,” said Elliot.
They do this all the time–describe themselves and each other in the third person. Do your kids do this? Half the time after I say anything, Ilsa adds, “…she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.” Another popular one is “…she said pointedly.” I feel like I’m a bit player in the novel playing out in their warped little minds, she wrote pointedly.
And I would like to state, for the record, that my voice does not “drip with sarcasm.” I have a dry sense of sarcasm.
If it’s at all possible, I will save all their writings for their future selves to laugh at. Because I foresee a lot of melodramatic suffering followed by snide sideline comments in their future.
I leave you with this moment: Elliot is sitting next to me on the couch, and he showed me the back of his book. “An exciting tale which is sure to leave readers clamoring for more,” he read, then chanted, “I want more! I want more!”
That’s how I feel right now.