I checked my voicemail and had a message from my aunt Laura.
"Hi Jess-Jess. We have an ice storm going through town and it looks like a snow globe in my backyard…snow is just drifting down…and I just called to say, um, if my four-year-old turns into a teenybopper blue-eye shadow-wearing cheerleader, I’M GONNA SUE YOU FOR EVERY CENT TO YOUR NAME."
Woah! I'm reeling from the abrupt change in Laura’s tone when she begins to laugh. I can’t tell if her ha-ha-ha is rife with glee, menace, or both, but I have my suspicions. She continues.
"I’m gonna have to knock your block off if she turns into some kind of teenage freak. You should see her strutting her stuff around here because of that High School Musical concert you work for."
Please know that Laura hisses the words High School Musical in a stage whisper so emphatic that I imagine each tiny globule of spittle clinging to her fangs, I mean, teeth.
I picture my four-year-old cousin Erin in ten years dressed as a cheerleader who files her nails, pops her gum, and rolls her eyes at Laura, who is busy filing a lawsuit against me, when Laura suddenly breaks character again and wraps up the message.
"So I just called to say ‘hey’ and thinking about you. Bye!"
1. Laura, I want you to understand that I am on your side. In fact, I’m considering suing myself for becoming the kind of person who returns home bearing glow sticks and overpriced concert tickets instead of the Indonesian shadow puppets, African masks, and beautifully illustrated folk tales published in underdeveloped nations by women-run collectives like I’d always imagined.
2. I realize now that you and your children have lived so innocently and free of cable television that you were defenseless against my offer of free tickets to a show that our more shrewd 14-year-old relative, Sarah, dismissed as "stupid" even though she’s the one who actually fits the demographic of the program.
3. I am told by other parents whose children are swept up in the mania of High School Musical that the movie and its soundtrack contain positive messages. I myself have not seen the movie and while I HAVE seen the live performance of the soundtrack onstage no less than 40 times, I still cannot tell you whether the messages are positive because I was mostly busy laughing and wondering if the 10 – 15,000 shrieking fans resembled the crowds during the rise of the Third Reich in Europe.
4. If it turns out that these other parents are actually ex-cheerleaders who wouldn’t know a positive message if it stuck its finger down their throats, I will go to the closest locally-owned independent bookstore and buy Erin a copy of Free to Be You And Me and sing "William Wants a Doll" to her over and over again until she is re-brainwashed.
5. Thank you so much for saying KNOCK MY BLOCK OFF. This is something I haven’t heard in a long time and it will be a nice addition to the stockpile of phrases from home that I’m committed to bringing to the general lexicon (see "Jeezel Petes", "Hecky-Naw", and "Duh Hickey").
6. Love you.