Bongiorno il profesore,

Man, is that ‘one-day Italian’ CD you checked out from the library ever coming in handy! I mean, not for you, since you didn’t actually open it before you left. But seeing it lying here on my desk really inspires me to pepper my speech with parole italiano. (That’s supposed to be ‘Italian words’. I felt a little foolish googling ‘how do you say Italian in Italian’ but I am nothing if not committed to being as correct as possible. So yes, I suppose I just confessed I’m not actually listening to the CD, but it’s still very inspiring!)

So, you had a tough day I’m sure. You might have gotten stuck sitting next to the kid opening a bag of marbles on a plane, or the people who brought not one, but due cani on board. (Being something of a Spaniard you might not realize that means 2 dogs since it looks nothing like dos perros.) I certainly don’t want to minimize your trials: airports, dogs on planes, having to cart around the containers filled with homemade quinoa salad and yogurt parfait your wife insisted on sending with you. After all, when Thomas Paine said ‘these are the times that try men’s souls,’ I’m pretty sure he was speaking about airports and traveling and quinoa.

Oh, right.

Our day here on the other side of the Atlantic was slightly less cosmopolitan. As you may (not) recall, the Gort has some sort of ceremony at school tomorrow. When I picked him up from school today he said something along the lines of ‘vi comprarmi un vestito?’ Which, I’m hoping, translates into ‘will you buy me a suit?’ because it sounds a little bit like transvestite.

Because apparently his teacher said ‘look nice’ or maybe even ‘try to look nice’ and all of a sudden, baddabing, baddaboom, the kid wants me to buy him a suit. I declined but compromised with ‘I’ll buy you a shirt.’ Then, as we were driving to procure the aforementioned shirt, he started in with ‘can I wear one of dad’s ties?’

Bearing in mind that a man’s tie might look slightly ridiculous on a scrawny boy-child, and that I haven’t tied a tie since my uniform days in elementary school (which, as everyone around here likes to point out was a long time ago) I declined, again.

With precisely 30 ‘free’ minutes at my disposal, I drove to Westhills and pointed at Mexx, Target and the Superstore. ‘Johnson Family Challenge,’ I announced, ‘we have 30 minutes to buy a shirt at one of these three places. If we manage to do it in 30 minutes, you can get a candy when we get home.’

Because bribing equals solid parenting.

We went in the first store. ‘Don’t hem and haw,’ I tried to save time, ‘just give it a thumbs up or thumbs down and move on!’ Two subpar short-sleeved shirts got the thumbs down, one subpar short-sleeved shirt got the thumbs up. And then I found a boys’ denim long-sleeved shirt. Thumbs up. Minor detail – it was one size too big, but the Gort had made up his mind.

We paid and walked back to the car. ‘How’d we do?’ they asked. ‘Fifteen minutes!’ I cheered. That’s got to be some sort of shopping-with-three-boys record.

The what not to wear episode didn’t end there, though. When we got home, he cleaned his basketball shoes so he could wear them with his ‘outfit’ and rummaged through his room to find a suitable pair of jeans, asking his 4 year old brother ‘do you like this one, or this one?’

As with all matters of taste, one must tread lightly with the Gort. Push too hard and he’s going to dig in his heels, rejecting whatever reasonable suggestion you might make. He presented his outfit of choice: too-big pair of jeans with too-big shirt and with more diplomacy than Madeleine Albright might have mustered, I said ‘yes, I think it looks good, but I think it might look better with your skinny jeans.’

Then there was a bit of a standoff about the shirt sleeves. I proposed he roll up his sleeves past his elbows to minimize the ‘too-big-shirt’ effect. He thought it was dumb. I tried to convince him it was ‘trendy’ by showing him the Zara Kids website.

(Which, for the record, didn’t show any pictures of boys wearing long-sleeved shirts with the sleeves rolled up! Is that trend over?)

But I’d either caught him at an agreeable moment or badgered him into submission, because he agreed. ‘You look good,’ I observed. ‘I know,’ he replied in an obvious sort of voice.

Next up was our youngest boy-wonder’s calcio game. I arrived home from teaching piano exactly 15 minutes before we had to leave, hence ‘dinner’ was yogurt, granola and raspberries. ‘We’ll eat dinner after soccer,’ I promised vaguely, though the kitchen looked like it had imploded, my still-not-put-away groceries from The Italian Store were littering the floor, and dinner was the furthest thing from my mind.

Our four year old not-quite-David-Beckham-in-training put on an admirable show tonight.When he wasn’t waving at me from the field, or guzzling water from his water bottle, he could be seen running with his pack of teammates, occasionally touching the ball with his foot and deliberating at great length about where to throw in the ball from the sideline. While his coach offered encouragements like ‘Today, Piers!’ or ‘don’t sit on the ball, Piers!’ In Percy’s defense, that was during a drill, not the actual game.

[The Hen, sitting on the sidelines watching his brother, concluded: ‘I’m the only Johnson boy who’s scoring goals in soccer.’]

Perhaps if he’d been our firstborn, I would have been a little more critical of his performance. But, this being my third go around, I think ‘agh, that’s pretty good for a four year old.’

Not sure what I will do when he is no longer four.

Oh, right, ‘agh, that’s pretty good for a five year old.’


I trust this will find you hyper-lagged from drinking too many espressos in an effort to stay awake during scintillating talks like ‘Temporal merging of actantial models of space.’

Maybe ‘actantial’ is one of those words that sounds more interesting than it actually is.


One thought on “Mercoledi

  1. Made it as far as Brussels Highlights so far.

    10 year old kid drops marbles on floor (who could have predicted that… why marbles on a plane?)

    Woman next to me has really hot legs… not as in sexy as in furnace like and occupying my space by flowing under the arm rest… Also she is hogging the armrest.

    Loud guy behind me giving running commentary of film he is watching.

    Air Canada has a category of films called Avant Garde… this basically means movies that are low production values on odd subjects… watched two of them that I can’t even remember now.

    the new Jack Ryan movie sucks.

    airplane food still sucks.

    very bored agents at the passport control.. probably they wake up every day thinking.. “crap I live in Belgium”


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