Sunday, December 11, 2016

December 11: Christmas Program, Daughter's Party, Classic Saint Marty, "The Happiest Person in North America"

This morning, my son had his Sunday School Christmas Program.  There were kids who I couldn't hear reading their parts.  Kids who wouldn't stand in the right place.  Kids who rang their bells at the wrong time.  Kids who left their candy canes on the floor.

Then, this afternoon, we celebrated my daughter's sixteenth birthday with our families.  We had a party in the afternoon and evening.  We talked, sang, ate cake and ice cream, and had filet mignon (I'm not kidding).  Oh, and my daughter got some presents.

Two years ago on this date, my son had another Christmas program . . .

December 11, 2014:  Clown in a Ring, Son's Christmas Program, Good Day

But the crowd loved it.  Avery heard nothing but the applause.  He liked being a clown in a ring, with everybody watching, in front of a grandstand.  When he discovered there was still a little water left in the bottom of the pail, he raised the pail high in the air and dumped the water on himself and made faces.  The children in the grandstand screamed with appreciation.

Avery, as I've said before, is a typical little boy.  He loves getting dirty, playing with frogs, collecting bugs.  And he loves being the center of attention.  Any opportunity that arises, Avery will try to grab the spotlight, even at Wilbur's award ceremony.

My son isn't quite as bad as Avery.  My son gets shy in front of large crowds.  I don't know where he gets it from.  I am not a shy person.  Neither is my wife.  In fact, we met in the theater.  I was directing a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and my wife auditioned.  We love being onstage.  I love giving poetry readings, being in the front of a classroom.  These are a few of my favorite things, to quote The Sound of Music.

Today was my son's Christmas program at school.  We spent the morning in a crowded gymnasium, packed into seats that were designed for residents of Munchkinland.  The music was too soft.  The kids sang off-key.  Some kids yawned in the middle of songs (my son included).  Some kids started crying when they saw all the people in the audience.  And that many people in close quarters tend to exude a communal aroma that can be a little nauseating.

It was a great morning.

I didn't have to go to work.  I was able to clean my house, send some e-mails, and listen to Christmas music.  A good day.  Tonight, I may actually be able to relax a little bit.  No grading.  No sweeping or vacuuming.  No pressing writing projects.  Maybe I'll read something for pleasure.  Take a nap.  Write a poem.

Or maybe Saint Marty will do...absolutely...nothing.

I have another poem for you tonight.

The Happiest Person in North America

by:  Martin Achatz

According to a Gallup poll,
The happiest person in America
Is tall, not Jimmy Stewart tall,
But not Tom Cruise short. He
(Of course a man, women need
Not apply) is Asian-American,
To insure aptitude for math,
Science, I suppose.  He must
Be an observant Jew, Christians
Tending to be too Republican,
Therefore humorless, Muslims
Raising eyebrow threat levels
On airplanes too much to allow
For vacations in Europe, Fiji,
Greece.  No, a Jew, enlightened
Enough to appreciate the writing
Of E. L. Doctorow, but strict
Enough to take Yom Kippur off work.
He should be 65 years of age
At least, ready to collect
Social Security for a few years
Before the money runs out.
Married with children.
His wife should be up
For kosher late night dinners,
Skinny-dips, Tony Bennett songs.
His children, graduates of Brown,
UCLA, make trips home for
Radish and salt at Passover.
He lives in Hawaii, snorkels
Coral reefs in Huaname Bay,
Stops at roadside fruit stands
To buy fresh-cut pineapple.
He has his own business, something
Non-stressful like surf blogger,
Hot air balloon captain, pastry chef,
Earns more than $120,000 a year,
Not enough to attract the attention
Of relatives, but enough to pay
For botox, liposuction, Kindles.
This man is happiest.  Satisfied.
Wakes at dawn to sit lotus,
Watch the Pacific surf, kiss
His wife of forty years before
She goes for her morning jog.
Statistic perfection, as unattainable
As Liz Taylor’s violet eyes,
As peace between Israel, Palestine,
As John Lennon’s no Heaven, no Hell,
One Gallup world, living as one.


U. P. Poet Laureate (voting ends December 31)

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