This one was written for Esther Chilton’s Laugh Along a Limerick challenge, with the requirement that it include the word “smile.” It is slightly gross perhaps, but, hopefully, in a playful way. I thought of the second limerick first, but after dreaming up rhymes with “crocodile” and “dial,” I forgot my objective was to include the word “smile.”
I sometimes hear stories from dog owners that their dogs survive with little ill effect after eating something which is toxic for dogs. Even so, be very careful to protect your dog from eating things that will harm him. If you’re in this situation, call your vet.
Early, the next morning, after loading Lars, Jack’s Volvo, with boxes of product and display banners, I woke the kids. Bronwyn had taken up temporary residence on an air mattress in Jack’s home office.
I knocked and opened the door. “Wakey, wakey, eggs and bakey,” I said.
For what seemed like several minutes, she stared at me through the slits of her eyelids without saying anything. Finally, she said, “Is there eggs and bakey?”
This is part of a series. You can just jump in and try to follow as with a movie in progress or you can go to the links for previous episodes. You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here, Part 3 here and Part 4 here.
“Uh … no,” I said. Jack and I do not cook. “We have cereal and toast … or, rather, we have bread with the potential of becoming toast. I’m not sure I’d risk it though. Sometimes, the toaster spits out bread that has failed to become toast and, sometimes, it spits out charcoal.”
Bronwyn fell backwards onto the air mattress like a toppling domino and did not move.
“No!” I said. “Clothes on body.” Somehow, I spontaneously adopted a kind of cave man language, as if this was easier for the half-asleep mind to understand. “Outside go.” I pointed out the window. “In car drive.” I pantomimed this also, with my hands on an imaginary steering wheel. Somehow, I had created a language that was halfway between a now politically incorrect Tonto talk and Yoda speak.
The domino righted itself again. “Food in stomach.”
“Fine. Hurry. Get dressed.” I looked at my watch. “We have time to take you and Dec out to the place that keeps Uncle Jack and I alive, before heading into the city. You can get eggs and bakey and … other things Jack and I are incapable of making for you.” I then realized I had to remove myself if I wanted my instructions followed. I walked out and closed the door, trusting that some action other than sleeping would take place.
Dec, thankfully, was already up and dressed, sitting on the couch, reading. Jack was standing nearby, in a squinty-eyed state similar to Bronwyn, a mug of coffee in his hand. He had dressed in clothes … of some sort.
“This is your ensemble?” I asked Jack, looking him up and down.
“Sure. Why not?”
“You know, I’m not even going to argue with it,” I said, “because if there’s anyplace in which this outfit would be appropriate, it’s the New York Toy Fair.”
It is an understatement to say that Jack’s fashion sense is different than mine. He dressed nearly every day like a signboard — a loud, neon signboard — for the toy industry, but, perhaps at the fair, it would be tolerated and possibly appreciated. At the moment, he was sporting a straw trilby hat with a Twister spot hatband, a cobalt blue dress shirt, black and white checkerboard suspenders, a black tie with a design of colorful, floating Tetris shapes and customized Converse shoes printed with Steamboat Willie puffing around the perimeter. A pocket watch dangling from a belt loop featured the faces of Woody and Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.
“I can’t decide if you look like you are about to go perform at a children’s party or at a ska festival,” I told him.
“Thanks, Andy,” said Jack.
He would go and take that as a compliment.
“I have an idea for the kids too,” said Jack. “Since Bronwyn was so concerned about being recognized at the event. You were actually onto something yesterday when you mentioned something about a costume for a disguise.” Jack wagged a finger at me.
“I mentioned a hot dog costume … as a joke,” I said. “I think if you are serious about that one, Bronwyn’s eye rolls are going to escalate into actual violence. I believe she knows how to use her powers for good, but keep in mind this is one kid who is wickedly skillful with a pair of nunchuks.”
“Andy,” said Jack. “I’ve been meaning to tell you that you’re a little too prone to hyperbole.”
Instead of addressing my question, Jack sat down on the couch beside Dec and pulled out a cell phone. After dialing, he muttered some unknown sounds into the phone. “Hej. Har du et par kostumer, vi kan bruge?”
I’m not an expert linguist, but I can usually at least identify the sounds of Italian, French, Spanish or German. These were sounds I could not even place.
After a few more seconds, Jack said, “Mange tak.”
“What were you just saying?” I asked him. “Please, tell me that you weren’t just talking in Klingon or Elvish to one of your geek friends.”
“No,” said Jack. “If I were talking in Klingon, it would be, ‘nuqneH. vaj, chomaw’chugh, vaj tugh ‘e’ DaHar’a’?’ and then, ‘qatlho’qu’. tugh qalegh.’”
I did a face palm. “I should have known. Does your geekdom know no limits?”
Jack looked up and into the upper right corner for just a second. “No, I don’t think so, Andy.” Then, he gave just a hint of a smile.
“So, it wasn’t Klingon, though you are, apparently, fairly proficient in it. Can you enlighten the rest of us on what that was all about?”
“I was just talking to Johan Nielsen* of the Lego company, and he is going to loan us a couple of costumes for the kids to wear at the fair.”
I still had more questions than answers at this point, but I couldn’t resist teasing and jabbing at him some more. “So, you were talking Danish, I suppose?” Again, I’m no linguist, but I am a toy man, and I know where Lego is headquartered. “You know an impressive smattering of languages, but I am still willing to bet even money that Niels Jorgensen …”
“Whatever … knows English better than you know Danish.”
Jack just shrugged a shoulder. “It’s always good to keep in practice.”
It might be evil of me, but it somehow made me feel better to remember that Mr. Know-it-all was not, in fact, actually omniscient.
Just then, Bronwyn made her entrance into the living room, wearing the new cupcake design T-shirt she had just picked up at the mall.
“So,” I prodded Jack. “You were saying … costumes? Just exactly what and how …?”
“I’ll explain everything over breakfast.” He pointed to the front door. “To the Salvador Deli.”
*Although the Lego company is, of course, very real, Johan Nielsen is purely fictional.
I am pinging Danish blogger friend, Le Drake Noir, (check out his wonderful travel photography,) because I used Google Translate for the Danish phrases in this post, and I thought it would be helpful to have a native speaker check it. Google Translate is not always perfect.
Lastly, if you are enjoying this or other posts in this series, I would love feedback or a comment. 🙂
I could breathe a little easier knowing that the superfan had left the building … or, at least, the food court.
“So, what did you buy?” I asked Jack and Dec.
“A camera drone,” said Dec, “and a GoPro.” He pulled two boxes out of a BestBuy bag.
If you want to check out previous episodes, you can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.
“A camera drone and a GoPro?” I looked at Jack and not Dec, with raised eyebrows, thinking he was spoiling the kid to a ridiculous degree.
Dec seemed to sense my unspoken thoughts. “Uncle Jack didn’t buy them. I’ve been earning money, and I saved up.”
“So, you’re into filming?” I asked him.
“Well, filming and … tech in general.”
Like uncle, like nephew. “The apple doesn’t fall far from the … branch that’s connected to your mother’s tree.”
Now, it was Dec’s turn to raise his eyebrows at me. “Huh?”
“That made much more sense in my mind before it came out my mouth,” I said. “You’re like your uncle.”
“Ah. Right,” said Dec.
“Well, maybe I didn’t buy gifts at the mall,” said Jack, “but I do have gifts for both Dec and Bronwyn, but they’re waiting back at the condo. They’re too big for my pockets.” He patted his overstuffed trenchcoat pockets.
If the gifts were really too big for his pockets, that was saying something. Jack wore that trenchcoat everywhere, rain or shine, and he must have had the equivalent of the contents of three women’s purses in there. Well, when I say that, I am talking in terms of storage, not that he was carrying lipsticks and powder puffs. No, Jack carried an interesting assortment of junk that seemed completely unnecessary … until it was, and that roll of duct tape came in handy for a makeshift fix or that magnifying glass could help with reading the fine print on a box of vitamins while shopping in the pharmacy.
After Jack and Dec joined the sugarfest that Bronwyn and I had started, and we split a giant Cinnabon the size of a small island nation four ways, we did head back to the condo.
Once back in the condo, we made ourselves comfortable. I got very comfortable, lying flat on my back on the couch, with George, the beagle, lying down on my stomach. I could take up all this space, because the two kids were content to sprawl on the floor in the floor cushions. Jack perched on the edge of his chair. “I suppose you two are too old for action figures.”
“I’m not,” said Dec. This was an interesting remark, because at 15, he was the oldest of the two.
I shrugged. “I’m not either.” I mean, Jack owns a toy business, and I’m his right hand man. I expect I will never grow up.
Bronwyn said, “I guess I’m not too old to display them … like with my Pop figures.”
Jack smiled. “Well, I think you are going to like these, because they are very special. They’re tied with the Blaze comic series. We’re going to release them to the public at the toy fair tomorrow.” He pulled a box from a bag. Through the cellophane panel, you could see a pre-teen girl figure with double French braids in her strawberry blonde hair. In separate compartments, a plastic backpack and other accessories were on display. Jack handed the box to Bronwyn.
Bronwyn rested the box against her raised knees and stared at it for several moments. “She looks like me,” she said.
“Well, as you know, you and Dec were very inspirational to my characters,” said Jack. “This is Farryn, Blaze’s niece.”
She then looked over the accompanying accessories. “A hoop, pins, ribbon … rhythmic gymnastics equipment and … nunchuks? I do rhythmic gymnastics and martial arts. She practically is me … but like in a parallel universe.”
“Wonder Woman has her magic lasso. Farryn has her ribbon of doom,” I said. That wasn’t quite the way it was written in the comic series, but I thought I’d be dramatic.
Jack presented a box to Declan next. “This is Hunter, Blaze’s nephew and Farryn’s trusty sidekick.”
“Wait, I’m her sidekick?” said Declan, as if he already completely identified with the character.
“Let me reword that,” said Jack. “Partner.”
The teen boy figure had a dark wavy coif just like Declan, although the figure’s hair was in molded plastic. The figure’s accessories included a drone, strangely similar to what Declan just bought himself, a smart watch, walkie talkies and a remote control car, all in miniature.
“Wow,” said Dec. “Bron and I are superheroes. You are the coolest uncle, Uncle Jack.” Dec turned to me. “And, Uncle Andy, you are the coolest uncle by association.”
“It’s super cool, Uncle Jack. Thank you so much.” She began to open her box. “Only … only … I think the superfan we met in the mall knows I’m her. I think he recognizes me.”
There was a pause. “Well,” I said. “Don’t worry about that. Tomorrow, at the toy fair, we’ll sneak you in wearing a hot dog suit. People may want to eat you, but no one will recognize you.”
I was beginning to lose count at how many times Bronwyn could roll her eyes at me.
Later, after the kids went to bed, Jack asked me, “Did I make a mistake … making the characters so similar to the kids?”
“Well,” I said. “You wouldn’t be the first to do something like that. Look at A.A. Milne and Christopher Robin. Milne made a character based on his kid.”
“Yeah,” said Jack. “But it was a different world back then, don’t you think?”
As Bronwyn and I walked over to join the end of the line at Starbucks, I couldn’t help feeling that the eyes of the superfan we’d just met were still following our every move. I resisted the urge to turn around and confirm my suspicions. Besides, if I was wrong, wouldn’t I be the one being the creepy creeper dude by staring at him?
(Ahem.) We interrupt this programming to say that, if you missed parts 1 and 2 of this series, it’s very understandable. The flow of this series was interrupted for a long time. You can find Part 2 here and Part 1 here. You should “start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.”
“So, should I get you one of those Pokemon Go frappuccinos?” I asked Bronwyn.
“I want a mocha frappuccino,” said Bronwyn.
“Aren’t you too young for coffee?”
“It’s a frappuccino. It’s practically a milkshake. Uncle Jack lets me have coffee flavored ice cream.”
“Ye-ah,” I said, my voice sliding from a high to low note. “But actual coffee has too much caffeine. It’s my duty as your uncle by proxy to protect you from drugs.”
“Drugs?” said Bronwyn. “It’s caffeine, not crack.”
At the mention of crack, my protective instincts turned up a notch … or twenty. “Crack? Who’s been talking to you about crack?” I asked.
Bronwyn rolled her blue eyes at me. “I’m in the D.A.R.E. program … you know where they teach about drug prevention.”
“Right,” I said.
“Plus,” she said. “I watch TV. I don’t live in a cave.”
“Right,” I said. “Well, caffeine is still a drug … albeit a socially acceptable one.”
In the process of this whole, interesting discussion on drugs, we had worked our way to the front of the line.
“Hi,” I told the barista. “I’d like a cold brew for myself, and she’d like a …”
“I want a mocha …” Bronwyn put in.
At this point, I took Bronwyn into a loving chokehold. Let me rephrase that. I gave Bronwyn a sideways hug that strongly resembled a chokehold. “She’d like one of those unicorn drinks or whatever you have that’s pink and girly and non-caffeinated,” I said. “With a big smiley face on the cup, please.” I myself don’t know why I felt the need to add the last part.
“Okay,” said the barista. “I could do a cotton candy frappuccino. That’s pink. The unicorn one is more colorful.”
I shrugged a shoulder. “I leave it to you.”
“What’s the name?”
Finally, she nodded, and I paid for our drinks. I was pleased with our results. Mine was dark and beautiful, though I almost questioned my adults-only gateway-to-crack choice of beverage, by way of example. Bronwyn’s was bright purple-pink with swirls of blue and a fairy dusting of pink and blue sugar on top of the whipped cream. The barista had indulged my stupidity with a huge smiley face on the cup right next to the name, “Brooklyn.” I tossed a tip in the tip jar.
We meandered over to a table in the food court then, and I still had this eerie feeling that Mr. Superfan was looking our way. When was I going to let that go? “I suppose I should text Uncle Jack to tell him and Dec to meet us here,” I said. Just as I said that, I spotted Jack and Declan coming through the food court entrance, carrying bags from Best Buy. It was as if Jack and I were so close we could communicate by telepathy, either that or the smell of Cinnabon was like the call of sirens to Ulysses.
I waved them over, and they joined us at a table. Best Buy bags mingled with pastel bags from Forever 13 (or wherever it was) on a spare chair.
“Don’t look now,” I said, “but we met this guy in the food court earlier who’s a mega-fan of our Blaze comic series. He strikes me a bit creepy, but he’s sitting there in the corner. Blondish-brown hair, receding hairline, rectangular-framed glasses …”
“Don’t look now” had the same effect as saying, “Don’t think about zebras in bikinis.” Do you see what I mean? What image just popped into your head? Jack looked to the corner.
“I see him,” Jack said.
“Is he staring at us?”
“I’m staring at him,” said Jack. “Oh, now, he’s looking.”
“Look away,” I said.
Jack did. I thought that our guy might walk over to chat with Jack, now that he had joined us. It wouldn’t be too unreasonable considering our earlier business discussion, but I now had mixed and strange feelings about it.
I fished in my shirt pocket and pulled out the pen he’d given us earlier. “He gave us a pen,” I said. “Apparently, he runs a comic book store and suggested we could go there for a signing some time.”
“Not a bad idea,” said Jack. He looked hard at the pen, at the business name on the side, at first. Then, he began to twist and turn the pen in different angles and stare at it some more. He was so mesmerized you’d think it was one with spinning lighted fiber optics (one of our own products.) I was mostly accustomed to Jack’s quirks by now, the way he would study ordinary things from an engineer’s perspective, but this was seeming ridiculous. It seemed like a pretty run-of-the-mill pen to me.
“Is there something special about that pen?” I asked.
“Maybe not,” said Jack. “It just seemed … well, never mind …” He set it down on the table. “Going to his store for a signing might not be a bad idea, for our writer and artist.”
“Yeah,” I said. “I think he wants you … the big brains, the concept guy. The superfan’s as fruity as a pebble, if you ask me.”
“As fruity as a pebble?” Jack raised his eyebrows. “Pebbles aren’t generally fruity.”
“Some of them are, when they come in boxes labelled Fruity Pebbles.”
“The breakfast cereal isn’t made of literal pebbles,” said Jack.
“I’ve known that since I was five,” I said. I sighed. “Don’t be so literal when I am trying to be clever.” I paused. “Is he still there?”
Jack glanced back in the direction of the corner. “No, he’s gone now.”