Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The answer: camel poop

The question: How do you entertain two kids on a four-day Chicago vacation?

One of the many highlights of Jake’s Uncle Binge Weekend was yesterday’s trip to the surprisingly awesome Lincoln Park Zoo. Aside from the cool fake habitats and the interesting animals we saw, the moment we walked in we were greeted by a camel who ran (well, as fast as camels can run) toward us as though to offer a friendly camel toe hello. But when he got to the shallow pool separating him from the wall we were standing behind, he waded in, turned his back on us and began pooping. And pooping. And pooping. And pooping. Then he took a small break. Then he started pooping again, until he was standing shin-deep in a bobbing-camel-doots-filled toilet of his own making.

Needless to say, the Magic Pooping Camel! was a big hit among the under-six demographic in our touring party. The over-thirty demographic was far more fascinated by the Magic Fucking Turtles. The boy turtle (who was not, as we were prepared to explain, trying to get a piggy-back ride on the girl turtle) was struggling valiantly to hold on as tight as his no-opposable-thumbed turtle hands would allow as the slippery-shelled girl turtle moved quite rapidly away from his amorous advances—and from his human-tongue-shaped turtle penis, which worked quite diligently to slide under the girl’s shell and find her little turtle cooter.

Let's all say it together: Little turtle cooter!

We also saw some Magic Fucking Wallabies, but they were so fuzzy-wuzzy cutey-wootey that even the boy wallaby’s frighteningly long and stringy penis couldn’t distract us from their adorability. Their big wallaby-fucking adorability.

The answer: vile puns

My nephew has discovered jokes and riddles, which he asks every grownup within earshot at every possible opportunity. Fortunately, he’s amassed an impressive arsenal of material, so he rarely bores us with repeats. He’s even made up a few of his own: What does a duck policeman say? Let’s quack this case!

Not one to be outdone by the comedic gifts of a mere six-year-old, I spent the whole weekend thinking up equally brilliant jokes, two of which became particularly oft-repeated hits: What does a table do in the morning? Comb its chair. and the not-quite-gay-friendly Where do spiders get married? At a webbing.

I’m expecting a call from Hollywood any day now. And I’m thinking a show like “Friends” could use some of this more sophisticated humor. (The episodes are getting kind of stale.)

The answer: cheap entertainment

Last year we spent great amounts of money taking the kids to kid-themed museums and restaurants, where they were often as unimpressed as we were. This year we made no particular plans and just followed our relatively cheap instincts, which took us to the top of the Ferris wheel at Navy Pier, the greasy booths at Ed Debevic’s (which smelled like a mildewy funeral home), the Grand Luxe Café (which ROCKS THE MOLTEN CHOCOLATE HOUSE), the aforementioned Lincoln Park Zoo, the top of the John Hancock Center (which features signs about “Big John” even though I've NEVER heard anyone call the building “Big John”—though I have heard the occasional "Top of the ’Cock"), the pool in my condo building, and—best of all—the dried-gum-covered seats of the train and the bus.

And on one bus ride the nephew declared he REALLY had to pee—and we were at least 30 minutes from home. One kindly old lady sitting next to us took such pity on him that she offered us her empty Snapple bottle so he could empty his bladder without interrupting his bus fun. AS IF, kindly old lady! No nephew of mine is going to pee in a bottle on a moving bus. We may have made bad judgment calls in the past (Tyco investments, leg warmers, forearm waxings, etc.), but we are NOT about to encourage our kids to behave like common bus bums. Especially using a bottle that once contained peach-flavored tea. Because peach-flavored tea is just gross.

The answer: chlorinated hair

My condo building has a pool. It’s a very nice pool. And though I’ve lived here almost five years, I’d been in the pool just once before this weekend. And now I’ve been five times. And it’s pretty sweet! There’s a nice shallow end for the kids to jump and splash and play in, and it’s long enough that those of us who haven’t been swimming since the early Clinton administration can whip out a few breast strokes (so to speak) and feel as though we’ve gotten a halfway decent (pant, pant) cardio experience.

I also discovered that a hearty game of Throw The Niece In The Air is a lot more fun when you’re standing in three feet of water—you somehow have more throwing power (it must have something to do with … um … hydrothermics … or something), and if you kind of miss her on the way down, she’s in no danger of bonking her head on the hard ground.

Plus: awesome shoulder workout!

The answer: lies, lies, lies

My sister and her husband have figured out the best way to make the “how much longer?” question go away: Just make up an answer, preferably something under five minutes. The kids never challenge your knowledge and they haven’t quite harnessed the concept of relative time—so whether they’re asking when the waiter will bring our dinner or how much longer until the bus comes, just tell them five minutes!

The answer: Mickey Mouse waffles

I have Mickey Mouse waffle iron that my sister gave me as a housewarming present back in 1993. Because I’m too lazy to clean up cooking messes so I tend to just not make them, I use it only for special occasions. Like uncle bingeing.

And, according to the niece and nephew, who conducted four days of research this weekend, I make the best Mickey Mouse waffles in the world.

I also live in the best "minium" in the world and make the best pink lemonade in the world (it's really raspberry-kiwi out of a can, but let's just keep that between you and me, OK?) and give the best hugs in the world and I’m the best uncle in the world.

Yes, they are prone to superlatives (though I plead guilty on all charges). And no, it never gets old. Even though they make the most sticky fingerprints in the world.

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