Sunday, December 7, 2008
Skiing and tormenting children
Some of the SKOAC Renegades straggled out to Elm Creek on Saturday for the first cross country ski of the season. There is an opening on the Renegade relay team for the Vasaloppet this winter; RonO has already mailed in his entry fees to ski the 42k classic. That would be a full marathon of 26 miles and you can most definitely count me out. But best of luck to Ron anyway. We can only hope that his beer drinking is not compromised by excessive training (closed circuit to BDahlieOfMahtomedi: you really CAN train too much!). I took a couple laps on the classical skis and then switched to the skate skis, just to make sure that every muscle and nerve synapse in my body would be screaming the next morning.
I arrived home in time to welcome TheMayor, Nipper, and their two boys who were down from Bemidji, MN for the annual Holidazzle parade on the Nicolet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. A plan was hatched where Nipper and I would selflessly give of our time and head down early to The Local, a fine Irish pub right on the mall, and patiently save a table for the Mayor, VOR, and the two boys. It is the perfect spot to watch the parade, get warm, and have an adult beverage if so inclined. The theme of the parade this year is fairy tales which gave ample opportunity for me to indulge one of my favorite pastimes, tormenting small children.
I was present but not the instigator of one of the finest child tormenting episodes of all time. A bunch of us were enjoying beers on The Terrace, the University of Wisconsin student union, situated outdoors on the shores of Lake Mendota. My buddy's young 4 year old daughter had the twin life changing experiences of seeing the Wizard of Oz and getting a pair of bright ruby red jelly shoes earlier in the week. She became, of course, 'Dorothy'. She flitted around the table, insisting we call her Dorothy, asking who wanted to be the Scarecrow, and trying to get us to follow her down the 'yellow brick road' until The WoodenOne had enough. Apparently the aggravation factor for lifelong bachelors is significanly lower than for we parents. Anyway, 'Dorothy' had just finished asking the WoodenOne if he could pretend he was the Cowardly Lion when a flock of geese took off on the far side of the lake. Without missing a beat he told her, "I would but I don't want to be carried off to the castle by those damn flying monkeys", as he pointed across the lake. 'Dorothy' followed his finger, looked, her lower lip began to quiver, and she ran crying and screaming to her mom. The humorous vs cruel vote split cleanly along gender lines. Guys were doubled over laughing and women were giving the poor WoodenOne The Look as well as some very pointed comments.
Cut to last night on the Nicolet Mall. As the brightly lighted floats began rolling by it was apparent that the opportunites to torment 4 year old Brent would be limitless. I hoisted him up to point out Captain Hook, waving his brightly lit hook, and the crocodile that bit off his hand in the first place. There was a wide eyed look but no other reaction. The witch in Hansel and Gretel's house wasn't a problem for him either. "You just put a stick out and she thinks its your finger", says Brent. However I spied my ace in the hole heading toward us, the Wizard of Oz float. By now our boy was right down in front on the curb as the munchkins, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, Tin Man, and the brightly colored float with the Wizard marched by. Behind the float on a bike was the nastiest, ugliest witch you've ever seen along with her flying monkeys. Simultaneously, the VOR innocently steered him toward the street for a better view, I gave him an additional shove, and the witch turned directly toward him on her bike and gave him a stare. Poor Brent found himself standing alone on Nicolet Mall with an evil and very mobile witch headed directly toward him. He stood rooted for a moment, then turned, screamed, and scurried for mom and dad, crying. We all laughed, including mom, dad, me, the VOR, fellow spectators, and especially older brother.
Is this a character flaw on my part or just good clean fun, this teasing and tormenting of these poor little guys? My son's will recall with possible fondness, visits from the 'pinching worms' and 'Doctor Iron'. Nephews will recall my testing of their first grade reading skills, reading aloud the phrase that I had written, 'Uncle-Dave-will-you-please-give-me-a-chicken-leg'? I would then immediately grab them and apply the feared chicken leg, a modification of the figure four leg lock, a hold any competent professional wrestler can execute. In any event, young Brent recovered quickly and is probably better for the experience, and I had a pleasant flashback to when my guys were small. It turned out to be a pretty good night for all concerned.