Monday, March 17, 2014

When Leprechaun Meets Turk, Turk Will Win

Dear Parents,
There is a leprechaun loose in our classroom and we need to catch him!  Please spend the next two weeks building a trap to catch the leprechaun with your student.  Remember to use problem solving skills and logic.  Make sure the traps are returned to school by Friday March 14th.  We’ll set the traps in all of the kindergarten classrooms over the weekend and hopefully catch him by St. Patrick’s Day.  

Seriously?   This is the kind of assignment that makes a parent cringe and maybe drop a few bits of low-
grade profanity.  But maybe that’s just in our house.  You want me to spend two weeks on a project with my 5 year old?  And what is this “logic” of which you speak?  I’m supposed to depend on 5 year old logic to build a trap for a small imaginary person which you have now convinced him is real?   Damn these newbie  teachers without enough experience to know this is dumb and without enough bitterness to make them too lazy to assign such a project to a bunch of 5 year old and their parents. 

Having long worked in education, I guarantee that of those projects that were returned to  school last Friday– at least a handful of kids had no projects as two weeks gives a parent more than enough time to totally space the project off and completely forget about it.  Those returned could be divided into three distinct categories: those done entirely by control freak parents without the patience to enlist the assistance of their child, those done completely by unsupervised kindergarteners and those, like ours, that began with the best intentions but quickly whirled out of control.

Though I am pretty darn Irish, and having spent the past 42 years receiving shamrock themed birthday wishes the day before St. Paddy’s Day, I’d never heard about trapping a leprechaun.  But I was willing to go with it.  The Midget and I did some brainstorming and we figured the best thing to do was start with a well decorated box and then turn it over to the Turk, who is an engineer, to handle the mechanics of trapping.  True to all stereotypes, the Mom-led decorating was complete on day one and the Baba-led mechanics wasn’t completed until twenty minutes before bedtime the night before it was due.

Though we’d discussed it extensively at the dinner table in the days leading up, this was all lost on the Turk when it was made clear that final evening that he had no idea what a leprechaun was.  While the Irish love to vacation in Turkey and a few of us fools even love to marry Turks, it seemed leprechauns never made their way to Turkey.  After a little Googling, when the Turk was clear on his target, he went to work while the Midget assisted him by standing on his head, releasing intermittent bursts of methane and occasionally whining.

Though assistance was offered, Rambo-Turk refused, preferring to take the lone wolf approach.  Cardboard flew, tape torn and rope was woven as the Turk ran in and out of the garage.  At one point he was out on the driveway smashing a brick to get the perfect size and sharpness of brick.  Through it all, the Midget remained in his farting headstand.  Finally, as he wiped sweat from his brow, the Turk declared, “It is done.  You see, he go in, trips the string, rock falls on his head, this sharp part cuts his neck.  He is dead.  We got him.” 
Horror washed over the faces of both the Midget and me.   “Baba, you can’t kill him.” 

“But you say trap.”

“Yes, Honey.  Trap the leprechaun.  Then they can let him go out in the woods.”

“Ha!  Like stupid No-Kill mouse trap?  No.  What is the point of that?”

“But Baba….” I quickly sent the Midget off to the bath tub to save him from a night of dead-leprechaun themed nightmares and turned my attention to the Turk.

“What is wrong with you?  This is a kindergarten project.  You can’t kill the pretend character.”

“Why not?  I wanted to build so when he go in, knives come in sides and ….whoosh…off his head.”

As I looked at the excitement in the eyes of my dear husband, the man I love, the father of my children, all I could respond was, “You are a freak.”

“No.  I am Turk.  In Turkey if you catch and set free, it come back to kill you.  That why you kill it first.”
And having lived there and recounting the great wild boar hunt of '07, I understood.  Completely.  To my Turk, being charged with catching a small mythological Irishman was no different than when he and his friend were charged with saving their parent's summer homes from a pack of wild boars some crazy woman had spent the winter feeding and now were threatening to eat the children. (True story.  I can't make this crap up.)  We'd asked him for a trap and a trap is exactly what we'd received.

Touche’ my Turk

The next morning we did instruct the Midget that when he explained his trap to the class, it was best to just point out that the rock would not kill the leprechaun, but rather only  knock him out and close the door.  Then they were free to whisk the little amnesiac  out into the woods and set him free.  The Midget, knowing his classmates well, agreed that this was the best approach too.  These little Hoosier kids are just not ready for Turkish life lessons yet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Gypsies, Tramps, Cher and The Ukrainians

I’m a newsie.  A junkie really.  Occasionally I try to get the news monkey off my back by going cold turkey, but inevitably I come crawlin’ back.  NPR is my drug of choice.  I wake up to it.  It’s on in the car. It provides solid background to my day and until the batteries died, I even listened in the shower.  I love to listen to the rebroadcast of BBC news.  Back when we were in Turkey, the BBC trumped NPR as my drug of choice.  1. Because it was some of the only English I heard all day and 2. European CNN sucked.   
Today, I flipped on NPR just in time to catch the end of a BBC broadcast as I was doing diaper duty and the story I heard utterly blew my mind. 

The Ukrainian Army is fiercely trying to protect its borders in Crimea against a rapidly intensifying Russian Army presence.  Ok, nothing new there.  This has been going on for days.  The shocker?  They are using Cher.  You read that right.  Her Half-Breed singing, Sonny Bono marrying, daughter turned son lovin’ Royal
Highness Cher.

I know, right?

I know what you’re thinking – hey, I thought she was Lebanese not Ukrainian.   True.  She is.  Country of origins seems to have nothing to do with this.  Like me, you are probably right now getting a visual of an aged Cher in that black leotard with only her naughty bits covered and a feather Mohawk leading a tank into battle while flipping her jet black hair over each shoulder one at a time with manicured fingers.  No?  Ok, maybe that’s just me.  But Cher herself  is not actually the one waging the battle.  Too bad, because she’s a bad ass and I’m pretty sure that within five minutes of unleashing the wrath of the half-breed upon those Russian forces, this nonsense would be done and Cher would be riding one of them home. No, according to the BBC, the Ukrainian forces are blasting Cher’s Greatest Hits at top volume to keep their enemies at bay and drive them into retreat

Seriously?  Cher?  What Metallica was busy?

As a devoted Cher fan and long-time friend of the world’s homosexual population, there are a couple things here with which I can’t help but take issue. 

First off.  How dare you Ukraine.  I understand that things are a little dicey right now and that you are grasping at straws but to use the songs of Our Lady of Spandex in such a manner is sickening.  That music was made for love, not war.  I can guarantee that when the goddess Cher laid down tracks like I Got You Babe and If I Could Turn Back Time, she did not have war in her heart.  Not even when she exposed her soul in Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves was she thinking of war.  Half-Breed may have been a different story but still, I doubt she ever saw it coming to this.

Second, Did anyone bother to check with Ms. Cher to see how she felt about this?  Whenever Cher is played, an attitude of fabulousness must be worn.   I know this for fact.  Long before I was a chubby mom in the land of Hoosiers, I worked in professional theatre-costumes- out East.  I think it goes without saying that where there are costumes, there are gay men and where there are gay men there is Cher so therefore, I was trained by THE best.  My BFF Johnny and I spent countless nights in grad school strutting his hallway to the musical stylings of classic Cher practicing our attitudes of fabulousness so that when we were finally called up to the big leagues, we would be ready.  And you know, one night years later on a roof deck on Fire Island, no one was more fabulous.  We were Cher (I was totally better but that’s neither here no there.) So the real question is, are these Ukrainian soldiers prepared for fabulousness?  Do they even have any spandex in their duffle bags?  Who taught them the hair flip?  Troubling indeed.

Apparently this type of tactic is common to war.  I wouldn’t know, I worked for the Quakers for a million years and they are all about…peace.  I know, you thought I was going to say oats there didn’t you.  I guess over the years many armies have used whatever music they had at hand to torment their nemesis.  The US reportedly is fond of using ACDC and Metallica, both obvious choices.  The use of Cher is a bit unprecedented.  Then again, is it?  Blasting the beloved tunes of a gay icon into a militant antigay country?  Well played  Ukraine, well played.  Just be aware that if you unleash the power of Cher, you better be ready for it.

The Warrior