Me

A few words about words

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Last week at softball, I was chilling out — sitting on the ground — and one of my teammates remarked that he can’t sit “Indian style” anymore, due to bad knees.

I felt obliged to tell him: “You don’t have kids, so you don’t know this, but sitting like this is now called ‘criss-cross apple sauce.'” He looked bewildered by this statement; I rolled my eyes in response.

Of all the new iterations and terms scrubbed clean of race, creed or culture, this one is the most perplexing. What is offensive about sitting Indian style? I understand why phrases with negative connotations, such as “Indian giver,” have faded away. But there’s nothing disparaging about sitting cross-legged on the ground.

And who played Dictionary God and replaced the term with criss-cross applesauce? What the hell does applesauce have to do with the way a person sits?

I cracked open my laptop and clacked away. Some internet digging unearthed a few nursery rhymes which refer to pureed apples, including:

Criss-cross, applesauce

Spiders crawling up your back

Spiders here, spiders there

Spiders even in your hair

Cool breeze, tight squeeze

Now you’ve got the shivers

I also found this one:

Criss-cross, applesauce, no one else can play with us. If they do, we’ll take our shoe and beat them ’til they’re black and blue… criss-cross applesauce.

Boy, that last one is catchy and it certainly gets the message across…

Anyway, at some ill-defined moment in the last 20 years, teachers taught kids, “Criss-cross, applesauce, give your hands a clap. Criss-cross applesauce, cross them in your lap.”

And with that, “Indian style” was quietly retired.

As for that term, its origins are murky. While it sounds like an obvious reference to the way Native American Indians sat on the ground, some challenge this theory. They believe its roots are British, and relate to people of India, seated in the lotus position.

Who knows? What is clear is that it’s no longer part of the classroom vernacular.

I mentioned this to Martin and he said, “By that rationale, that’s the end of the song, ‘Walk Like An Egyptian.'”

I looked that up, too. Apparently, the writer of this 80s hit composed the lyrics after watching people walk awkwardly to keep their balance on a pitching ferry, which reminded him of ancient Egyptian figures.

I told Martin that he can listen to “Walk Like An Egyptian” until someone releases a PC version entitled, “Walk like a person from the ancient kingdom in North East Africa, as they are depicted in hieroglyphics.” Or maybe a re-release related to the impetus of the song: “Walk like an off-balanced individual aboard a boat.”

Both of those choices… really suck.

They make me want to take my shoe, and beat someone black and blue.

Worn-out old work boots, isolated on white.

Happy April Nothing!

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The long fox hunting season came to a close on Thursday, and today we celebrated “April Nothing.” It’s a revolving date. This year it happened to fall on Sunday, April 3rd.

April Nothing is the only empty square on the calendar for the next two months. It is blissfully bare, unscathed by any events.

Truth be told, there are plenty of blank weekdays, but that’s only because I haven’t written in the repetitive weekly practices, and coaches haven’t released game times or field locations.

But tomorrow it all begins. We submerge ourselves in spring activities: Hadley’s softball, Cayden’s flag football, Hadley’s pony club, Brynn & Hadley’s riding lessons, my softball teams (a co-ed weekend league, and Thursday nights with the guys), and then I’ll squeeze in as many hunter paces with Jazz as time allows.

(Martin doesn’t get to duck and cover; he hikes and is coaching Cayden’s football team.)

We shoulder this weighty load through April and May. And before the kids’ spring sports wrap, we have one manic week in June where all of the above activities overlap with swim team. Then we resurface, gasping for air.

So April Nothing is a pretty special day. It is the only holiday not embossed on the calendar — acknowledged by emptiness. In fact, I shouldn’t even call April Nothing a holiday, otherwise we’re bound to schedule something to celebrate it.

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Going “Crafty Stitches”

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Now that Brynn has been sprung from the hospital (yesterday, with a picc line… think IV catheter), I can reflect on the week.

Over the years, we’ve developed a lot of family lingo — terminology that means nothing to you, but everything to us. This post is devoted to the newest vernacular:

Going ‘Crafty Stitches.’

Sleep deprivation and stress leads to irrational behavior, as I so aptly displayed last weekend. On Saturday, Martin took the hospital post, while I swapped him for Cayden/Hadley. (This was my first foray into the gen pop. Safe to say, I wasn’t myself.)

The game plan: drop Hadley at her sewing class in Virginia, while Cayden and I cooled our heels at a nearby cafe called “The Bean Bar.”  Then we’d reconvene at the farm and, with my mom, pilgrimage to Hopkins to visit Brynn.

(Sidenote: add “sewing” to Hadley’s resume. At Christmas she acquired a sewing machine and she wants to make her own clothes.)

Sleet was falling when we arrived at Hadley’s final session in a 10-week-long, dress-making course. But the sewing store was shuttered and darkened. I peered in the window and noticed that the equipment — a bank of sewing machines — was gone.

I called Crafty Stitches but the phone number was out of service. Seething, I dragged the kids to The Bean Bar. I ordered them breakfast, cracked open my laptop, and began drafting a message, delivered to every email address associated with Crafty Stitches.

In my own defense, I refrained from using profanity. And I didn’t directly threaten anyone. But the message was venomous and angry. I demanded the immediate(!) return of Hadley’s dress. Perhaps they’d moved locations, I speculated — though I doubted it… my words dripping with sarcasm. There was no sign on the store front and the phone was disconnected.

I assumed they were closed and I didn’t care about their business or the employment status of their staff. With a sick child in the hospital and another one despondent over her sister’s illness, I was FED UP.

I imagined the sewing machines — sold at rock-bottom prices to a competing business — and I pictured Had’s dress and other projects discarded in a dumpster. That really got my hackles up. I wanted the dress that Hadley had so painstakingly sewn and I wanted it, RIGHT NOW. And, I wanted to shove bamboo shoots under the owners’ fingernails.

As I drafted my message, I plotted my next move: if the email bounced back, I’d contact the realty agency. I’d demand contact information and I’d hunt these people down!

Often, you hear about impulsive emails — messages sent, then instantly regretted. I suffered no regret. I reviewed my missive… vetting it for typos… and pondered adding expletives. Then, narrowing my eyes, I hit “send.”

Two minutes later, as the kids tucked into breakfast, my cell phone rang. The caller identified herself as a Crafty Stitches employee. She quickly explained that they’d moved.

“Where?” I demanded.

“Do you know where the Bean Bar is?”

“Yes!” I hollered. “Yes, I know where the Bean Bar is!”

“Well, we’re two doors down.”

“Oh,” I said flatly. “Well, we’re be there… in about 30 seconds.”

As we walked into the bustling store, I apologized for my cloaked threats. (Turns out, the phone was temporarily out.)

“We sent emails blasts,” the employee explained.

“I never got those,” I said.

“We told parents,” the lady added.

“Well, you told my husband… that’s like talking to a piece of plywood,” I said.

“Look,” I added, hoisting my arms and cursing the tears welling in my eyes, “I’m sorry for the nasty email. I’ve got… a lot going on.”

Later, I shared the episode with Martin. He listened, then rolled his eyes and declared, “You’re a mental patient.”

A few days later, when Brynn’s hospital release sounded imminent, Martin mentioned that one test might not occur before discharge.

I bristled.

Martin made the “settle down” motion with his hand. “I already warned the staff that they’d be hearing from you,” he said. “Just go easy. Don’t go all Crafty Stitches, okay?”

I crossed my arms. “What? I’m not going to go all ‘Crafty Stitches’ on them! But she’s in for two more days and already, they can’t do this test? What’s that all about? I mean, WTF? I want those test results before she’s discharged! Is that too much to ask? IS IT?”

So no longer, do I “go postal,” or “Jeffrey Dahmer.” I don’t “chuck a mental,” (credit the Aussies for that one.)

Nope.

If I sense any push-back, I just might go Crafty Stitches on your ass!