Wow, thank you for all your book suggestions! I absolutely loved reading through them. It was wonderful to be reminded of books I'd forgotten I loved, and to see titles Charlie has already enjoyed alongside books that might be comparable. I want to be armed with a good list next time we go to the library, so I've printed out your comments and gone over them with a highlighter. (Let the record reflect that I was careful not to highlight Angie's mention of V.C. Andrews and Danielle Steele. For those I used bright pink tape flags.)
Speaking of highlighting, Charlie has a new enthusiasm. Several days ago we got a catalog in the mail from X-Treme Geek. Intrigued, perhaps, by the pictures on the front, Charlie appropriated it as his own and has been studying it ever since. The other night he was reading it while I sat at my computer. Here is a transcript, and I swear I do not exaggerate:
MAMA I WANT A MEDIA CAROUSEL POWERDRIVE IT CAN HOLD UP TO 100 CDS OR DVDS MAMA I WANT AN LED COLOR CHANGING MUG IT MAKES AN EXCITING LIGHT SHOW EVERY TIME YOU SIP MAMA I WANT A SURVIVAL KIT IN A SARDINE CAN IT INCLUDES A WIDE ARRAY OF SUPPLIES FOR ALL OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS MAMA I WANT A UNIVERSAL MEMORY CARD PLUS SIM CARD READER/WRITER IT CAN ACCESS NEARLY EVERY TYPE OF MEDIA CARD EVER MADE FROM COMPACT FLASH TO MEMORY STICK MICRO (M2)...
Okay, so. Having been incessantly barraged by "Mama!" and "I want!" at loud volume and in boldface, I was perhaps not as kindly as I might have been when I told him I couldn't listen to that anymore, and to enjoy his catalog quietly. At which point the poor kid burst into tears. Sobbing, he explained, "I was just…[hitch]…telling you so that if you…[sniffle]…wanted to buy me something…[waver]…someday, you would know what I might like!"
And then a yawning chasm in the ground opened at my feet, and so great was my remorse that I willingly leapt in, letting the hungry earth swallow me whole. Upon my demise, Charlie inherited half my estate, and he used it to buy FORBIDDEN SCIENCE A COLLECTION OF 43 ESSAYS FROM RENOWNED RESEARCHERS DISCUSSING CUTTING-EDGE, HERETICAL, OR SUPPRESSED SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH.
Or, if that is too far-fetched to believe, let us say instead that I apologized for misunderstanding — yeahhhh, misunderstanding — and gave him a marker so he could make note of the items he liked.
He's been working on it for a few days now, and yesterday I leafed through the catalog to see what had caught his fancy. On a page of twelve items, he marked eleven of them, leaving out only the legendary drinking bird. On other pages he marked a heavy solid metal die-cast Gort figurine, the better to brain his brother with; a flameless flare for summoning an ambulance afterward; and a wi-fi hotspot detector for...well, I don't actually know what for, and I'm pretty sure he doesn't, either. Multi-blade shredding scissors! USB car charger! Nikola Tesla action figure! Oh, and the freeze-your-dog's-excreta spray, of course; note that he marked that picture. He wants them all. (Inexplicably unmarked was the do-it-yourself trebuchet kit. He must have realized the finished model would be too small to hurl the cat any appreciable distance.)
And there's nothing more to say about that except this: I knew I would love my kid but I had no idea what a big goofy goddamn kick I'd get out of him just being who he is.
I'm not even sure why I'm mentioning this, except that it's been making me itch since I first heard about it: The Back-Up Plan, Jennifer Lopez's new movie, hits theaters today. Lopez, a longtime favorite of mine, plays a single woman who gives up on finding Mr. Right and opts to become a mother through artificial insemination. Enter Mr. Right, whom she meets upon leaving the doctor's office. And I don't even need to tell you the rest of the plot, because you know exactly how it goes. Of course she's pregnant. Of course the guy sticks around. Of course I want to vomit.
So do the critics, whose negative reactions are nearly unanimous. I'm especially fond of Roger Ebert's review: "Some movies are no better than second-rate sitcoms. Other movies are no better than third-rate sitcoms. 'The Back-up Plan' doesn't deserve comparison with sitcoms."
Despite how cloying the premise is, I don't really have a problem with it beyond, you know, aesthetics. And the fact that Lopez's character ends up with boy/girl twins is no more and no less than I'd expect from a movie of this caliber. It's that her character did so without even being infertile. After Lopez spent so much energy denying infertility and claiming she'd conceived the "natural" way, after crediting her pregnancy to faith, saying she'd succeeded because, "Deep down, I really wanted it badly" — well, it's the echo that bothers me, if you see what I mean, and, man, does it make me crazy.
And, hey, thanks for the lead-in, J.Lo, to something more important than that weird mess of cinematic revisionism: National Infertility Awareness Week begins tomorrow. Please consider adding your voice and listening to others' as part of Project IF. The real stories are what matter.