Greetings Again, Dear Readers!

It pains me to have missed two posts, especially one of my Sunday posts.  Hopefully, if there are those in the world who rely upon my regularity of schedule–unfortunate folk indeed–they can forgive me.  Also, if my absence ruined anyone else’s day, please forgive me for that as well.  I wish I could say that soon I’ll extract amusing stories from the hectic-ness of the past week, but, as unlikely as this might seem, sometimes boring things happen to me.


Nevertheless, I’ll endeavor to make up for my absence.  On that note let me say that there are some exciting changes underway, which I’ll unveil as soon as my staff hammers out the details.  (By staff I mean me, with plentiful-but-perforce-part-time help from my wife and the enthusiastic interference of my daughter.)  Until then, here’s a little story which should have been last Friday’s post.

Like so many things in my life nowadays, it involves an activity in which I was ostensibly involved for my daughter’s sake.  Specifically, we were watching one of our favorite children’s television shows: Little Einsteins.  While the show will thwart and frustrate anyone who expects it to make a “grown up” kind of sense–at one point some kids climbed the Matterhorn so that they could help a mouse give a box of stars to the moon–I’m really impressed with it.  It’s educational, interactive, and genuinely delightful.  It’s even those things for my daughter and not just me.

I particularly enjoy how it lets me say things like: “Some kids climbed the Matterhorn so that they could help a mouse give a box of stars to the moon.”  As a writer, an entertaining sentence is like a Christmas present wrapped in grammar: always a treat.

My daughter probably appreciates the show for different reasons.  I know she likes it though.  Aside from blueberries and the potty, it’s the only thing she asks for specifically.  She’s learned some of its cute conventions and dances.  The other day I even heard her singing excerpts from the second movement of Dvořák’s 9th symphony, which the show uses sometimes.  (See, the show is educational.  My daughter learned the tune, while I learned the name of the composer and symphony.  Otherwise, that sentence would have been:  “And my daughter was singing… something pretty and old.”  We’re like a superhero duo, albeit one whose purview is battling unfamiliarity with certain pieces of orchestral music.)

Either way, at the time of the story I’m trying to tell, we were watching an episode called “Hungarian Hiccups,” during which the protagonists’ best friend, their rocket ship, hiccups every time it tries to sing Brahms’ Hungarian Dance #5, thus jeopardizing its entry into the Great Sky Race.  (Yet another fun sentence to say, in addition to serving as an illustration both of a song the show has taught to me and the sort of plot one oughtn’t to bother trying to unravel.)

The four children in the show decide to cure their rocket’s hiccups by startling them away, so they embark on a fun-filled musical quest for escalating surprises.  First they try to startle Rocket with some cymbals, ones which they quite naturally seek in the ocean.  Then they recruit the help of a tiger, one which is actually a painting although they find it in the jungle.  Finally they realize that they need to resort to something more extreme if they’re going to help.  Their conversation goes like this:

Child 1:  “The cymbals didn’t stop Rocket’s hiccups!”
Child 2:  “The tiger’s roar didn’t stop Rocket’s hiccups!”
Child 3:  “We need the biggest surprise ever to stop Rocket’s hiccups!”
[Dramatic Pause]

We probably would have been fine had it not been for the pause.  The drama goaded us into guessing.

I guessed, “The Incarnation of Christ.”  I was pretty confident in that being the biggest surprise ever, but less confident that it would startle the hiccups out of a rocket ship.  Oddly, neither my professors nor any of the theologians I’ve read had much to say about theology  vis-a-vis rocket hiccups.

My wife guessed, “A nuclear bomb.”  She apparently focused exclusively on ending the hiccups, rather than on surviving after their end.  She really doesn’t like hiccups.  Also, one shouldn’t make her angry.

Then the children in the show answered.  “I’ve got it!” declared Child 2 proudly, “A geyser!”

Of course we conceded that a geyser was the obvious choice and that we were silly for not guessing it immediately.  As a spoiler though, the geyser doesn’t cure Rocket’s hiccups either.


4 thoughts on “Surprises

  1. We were big fans of those guys not long ago. I was always impressed that our girls came away from the show humming some Brahms or JS Bach or Dvorak – even now they recognize certain pieces of classical music when they hear them on the radio on those days I’m belligerent about what we tune into on the way home from school.

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