Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Practice Makes Perfect
The incident sparked a recollection of a similar one from my childhood, when I believe this special gift first took root.
Zoom in on the calendar; pages blowing off in the breeze.... Flash back to 1985...
... a 5-year old afro-ed Risa, in The Old Lambert Cottage. The dining chairs that left ridges on the backs of your legs on hot summer days. The chicken/rooster sugar bowl and creamer set. Booze from my dad's bar mitzvah in the 50s. My mom with a perm, but the same blue eye-shadow, sipping banana daquiris out back with my aunt, while us kids husked corn on the front porch, next to the day's swim suits hung up to dry on the trestle.
Endless games of Monopoly or Battleship or Checkers, that I was usually told I was too young to play, and that I never won anyways. Not to mention the games created specifically for the sake of taunting me: 52 Pick Up, for instance, which involves throwing an entire deck of cards on the floor and then ordering me to pick them up. ("What?! You said you wanted to play-ay!" was always the rock solid defense.) This is what happens when you're the youngest of a big gang of raucous siblings and cousins in close quarters: the easiest to trick, tease, or blame, and forever grasping for that zinger of a come-back. (Although, really, what can be said after, "I'm rubber and you're glue"?)
Actually I wasn't the youngest, strictly speaking. There was one cousin the same age as me, but scrappier than I was, and one 2 years younger, still too cute to really pick on. And then there was me. Helpless and afroed, the obvious target. Which is probably why I stuck to my guns that fateful morning at breakfast time...
Me: (reaching for a full box of Cheerios, and proceeding to place it gingerly atop my afro)
Brother: Risa, don't do that. It's going to fall.
Me: No, it's not.
Sister: Risa, put it down, you're going to drop it.
Me: No, I won't.
Cousin: Risa, stop it, it's going to spill. You're going to get in trouble.
Me: (increasingly confident) You're not the boss of me.
Brother: (growing panic) Take it off!
Me: (arrogant now, attempting to strut around with my headdress) No, look, I can do it! Look! It's...
Sister: (screeching like a communist school teacher) Risa!
Father: (serious stuff now) Put it down!
Me: (prancing) ... but, look!!! Its...
Little Risa Gets In Big Trouble.
Well I certainly Learned My Lesson that day:
If you want to be good at balancing stuff on your head, you have to practice.
And just look at me now! A 4-litre water jug! Take that, nay-sayers!