20 March 2012

He's Saying/She's Saying

Did you ever go to some friends' house and sit around the living room with them while they tell you what the baby is "saying"? 

They exclaim, in the brightest voices EVER:  Look at Evvie! She's saying, "I'm a big girl now! I'm standing up all by myself! Yes!"

And you think, "Actually, she's slumped over that ottoman pretty heavily and now she's slurring. Could she be... drunk?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Let's ratchet it up a notch. How about when it's a pet. . . . 

Looky there at mama's baby sweetpea! He's saying, "You give me some soda! Yes, give me some now! I'm going to open it. You watch!"

And you're thinking,  "Aren't you afraid it'll drown?"

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Five instantiations.
My parents extended the pet channeling phenomenon in a poignant way. . . .

They had Scottish Terriers, serially. When I'd visit, we'd sit around and in the middle would be... Maggie?... uh, Sophie?... Missy?... Zoe? They always had the same name to me.

And they were always female, all the same size,  all just as black as black, and they all wore their hair the same way. The only divergence was that they lived in different decades.

If someone hadn't told me each time that the previous instantiation had died, I would never have recognized that there was a new one. I would have thought that Scotties lived 30-40 years or longer.

My parents would start a visit with innocuous translations of what the dog was "saying," delivered in falsetto (as these things so often are): Oh, Gigi likes you! She's saying, You're somebody new to look at! Yes! And I like what I see!  <staccato laughter all 'round, even from me: kack-kack-kack-kack>

Then things would take a specific turn. It sounded like the dog was saying things that my mother herself might say:  Look! Pookie's saying, I don't know you! No! You just don't visit often enough! No, you hardly ever visit, do you?
Cute, but pretty much vacant.
Not a brain in its head.

Hmm, my eyes narrowed. When I first picked up on this seeming transference, I watched to see if it bore out for the rest of the visit. Indeed, it did.

I stumbled out into the kitchen in the morning and the dog "said," Oh my! You'd sleep the day away, Lazybones! I've been waiting all morning for you to get up, yes, I have.

When I stood outside with my coffee for a few moments, there would be Mom and the dog, the latter—er, former?—"saying," Oooh! You can rake up these leaves with me! Let's go find the rake! I've been waiting for someone to come along and rake up these leaves with me!

My head would pound. I'd think, "Stop its little voice! Stop its little voice! Stop its little voice! Stop its little voice! . . ."

Then I'd have to remind myself that it wasn't really Pookie, or Bitsy or Chloe or Flo-Flo, nagging me. Nor was my mother nagging me. My mother just wanted to get as much time as she could with me, on those infrequent visits. I wish I'd picked up on the poignancy of it back then.

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