Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Your Age, Bubba the Dinosaur

Your Age
Last night, Sean came home and informed me he had a new co-worker

Sean: Her name is Elizabeth but she goes by Biz
Me: Biz? Is she from Connecticut? What is Biz? What kind of name is that? Is she a preppy?
Sean: I don't know........all I know is she goes by Biz
Me: Is she young?
Sean: No no (with an emphatic head shake)....she's not young. She's like your age
Me: stone cold stare, no words, no noise, just silence.......and a stone cold stare

In 1986, I was a 14 year old freshman in high school. I went to a semi private (public for British Audience) school in the middle of Bangor as my little town did not have a high school.

It was a good school - academically. And it offered a lot of extra curricular activities - one of the most relished was the Annual Spring Musical.

Every year, a select group of students, the most talented kids, would audition for and put on a spectacular play, always a musical. They were practically legendary and a social event of the Spring season in Bangor (I may be exaggerating that a bit here but the point is, the play was pretty important and people who did not even have kids at the school would come to see it)

So my freshman year, I somehow made the varsity basketball team (I think there were not enough girls left over for the JV team and they felt badly for me so I made the team) and used to hang around with the girls who were Juniors. Dede decided she wanted to try out for the play - and because she was my ride home that day, I tried out for the play as well.

Now what happened next is nothing short of.....well, a total fluke....I landed the female lead in the school play. Initially, I did not understand the weight this carried - until I saw the senior girl everyone thought would get the lead (as all she had wanted her whole life was to sing and act on stage) having a temper tantrum in one of the classroom and saying some not so nice things about me and the director who cast me.

I remember trying to talk to her, trying to apologize for her not getting the lead....she just glared down at me (she was a lot taller than I was, a lot thinner....she had this shock of curly black hair and this long face,....and her nose was kind of big so when she was glaring down at me, her nostrils were flaring because she was so angry and she sort of looked like a horse. I vaguely remember being afraid she would buck up and come down on me as a horse does when scared or startled by something....) and told me I had no business even being in the play and stormed out of the room with her supporting actors in tow.

So, I landed the coveted lead in the school play that is usually reserved for a senior...who has acting talent...and experience....and can sing...I had none of those things. But I pulled it off and though no Tony will ever come my way, I don't think I was that bad

My sophomore year, 1987, I went out for the play again and though I was not counting on getting the lead - I thought I'd get a part....I did not...and I was devastated...and embarrassed...and really really sad.

Mikel, my youngest sister, at the time was all of 6. She knew I was sad and bought me an organge dinosaur (a brontosaurus) to cheer me up. It did. That brontosaurus went every where with me

I carried it around with me after she gave it to me because he cheered me up and made me smile
He went to Europe with me when I went on the European Field Trip (I left him on the train in Switzerland (may have been Germany or Austria) and Jen and I snuck back on the train to retrieve him...we almost did not make it off the train but we saved the dinosaur)
He went to college with me (and I cried a lot while snuggling that dinosaur as I was miserable the first couple months I was there)
He moved to IL with me -and was the only thing that could console me the first few months I was on my own
I slept with that dinosaur every night for I can't tell you how long.

I still have The Orange Dinosaur....he's almost 24 years old.....a little grungy, a couple wounds, an ink spot on his head (that I tell everyone is a birthmark) and a ragged old tag...but he has been with me 24 years....my longest relationship ever

This morning, Lucy woke up in a state - she cried and fussed and tried to get in the shower with me. She laid on the floor sobbing and stopped only when I picked her up and snuggled her...not even Daddy could not stop the tears.

When I got out of the shower, I was trying to talk Lucy into letting me change her diaper. She just paced up and down the hallway crying. At the end of the hallway is a trunk with some stuffed animals on it (OK, they're mine) and perched amongst the teddy bears is the Orange Dinosaur.

Mama, cries Lucy
What honey?
She sniffles a couple times and wails once for good measure
Mama...I need a dinosaur....sniffle sniffle, wail wail, throw self on floor for dramatic effect

I freeze...she wants MY dinosaur. She wants THE orange dinosaur.. She's eyed it before and I've always been able to distract her with something else.....why do I leave him out you ask?
I leave him out because it comforts me to see him as I'm headed in our room at night to go to bed and when I wake up in the morning, there he is...just as he has been for 24 years....and now, my 2 year old wants him...NEEDS him


My baby is crying, we're running late, she's got her little hand on my dinosaur...
I'm 38! She's 2! What is wrong with me...he's just a stuffed animal...just an Orange Dinosaur....
Of course you can have the dinosaur I say swooping in lovingly

Lucy tucks him under her arm and paddles down the hall towards her room

I cajole her onto the changing table where she continues to fuss

So I get the dinosaur to talk to her as I'm trying to get her to lay still so I can change her diaper...
Then I get the dinosaur to change her diaper! He nudges her PJ pants off and then, with help from Mummy, gets her diaper unfastened...but Mummy does the wipes because dinosaurs have short arms!
And Lucy is laughing and giggling as I get a clean diaper on her

Mama, whats his name?
His name?

In my head, I realize he's 24 years old and he's never ever had a name except The Orange Dinosaur

Well Lucy, I say as I lean in towards her and the dinosaur, what do you think we should call him?
Ummmmmmm....she holds him above her as I fasten her clean diaper and announces, with great authority,
Yeah Mama! Bubba! and she pulls him in in for a hug

Bubba...all I can think of is Former President Clinton....when you say Bubba, he pops into my head and I cringe....and she wants to call my cherished Orange Dinosaur Bubba...cringe....but instead, I declare

Bubba is a perfect name! and I plant kisses on Lucy and Bubba
Bubba hungry Mama!
Ok, what would Bubba like for breakfast?
Fruit Loops! shouts Lucy
Ok, what would Lucy like for breakfast?

And with that, I scoop up Bubba and Lucy and we head down for breakfast.

Bubba was given his own bowl of Fruit Loops, Lucy had scrambled eggs and a bowl of cereal
And I wondered what the hell I was going to say Lucy asked if she could take Bubba to school with her....

Bubba is poised to bring yet another generation love and security.....so here's to the next 24 years of tears, triumphs, love, laughs, hugs snuggles, train trips, car rides, sleep overs and Fruit Loops...

Maria, the Mum

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