Just In: Mother Brings Scary Monster Back From Chicago

After claiming I hadn’t seen a scary monster there.

Henry Hochenwaller is not the scary monster. In fact, he holds the key to happiness.

I had been home from Chicago for less than an hour when I realized I had made a grave mistake. My mistake was pointed out to me by Gbot from the back seat. I had just dispensed the little gifts I’d brought home from my trip: two semi-matching key chains. I’d picked out semi-matching key chains, although the little voice in the back of my head was shouting for me to get two identical key chains. But there were so many cute ones to choose from. Note: Cute is a relative term and changes according to your age.

The Bots are crazy for keys. They watch me insert them into cars, doors, the filing cabinet, the post office box; they watch them magically start engines and open doors and drawers. I knew that these small tokens, from my new favorite place, The Art Institute of Chicago, would be a hit. There were many different styles of leatherette dudes to choose from. I chose carefully.

Not, it turns out, carefully enough.

I gave Mbot the purple one, because he likes purple, and it’s smiley, and he tends to get upset if something’s sad.

I gave Gbot the yellow one, because it was so cheerfully bright and because, through my forty-four year-old eyes, it has personality.

Before: Wilfred is, obviously, the scary monster. Wilfred does not hold the key to happiness.

Not, it turns out, the right personality.

I tried to convince Gbot that Wilfred was winking. He would have none of it. To a two-year old, a black X is not the symbol for a wink; he barely knows what a wink is. Come to think of it, for a forty year-old, a black X is not the symbol for a wink. A dash is. And a squiggly mouth is the symbol for fear or worse. Had I learned nothing from walking among the Masters of visual art for two hours?

Not, it turns out, the right things.

Here is an abbreviated transcription of the conversation from the back seat as we headed toward Grandma’s, each Bot gripping his new key chain:

Gbot:: “Wilfred’s crying.”

Mbot: “I hope that his eye opens.”

Mbot (encouragingly): “Gbot, that eye might open.”

Gbot: “I do not like mine anymore. Here you go, Mbot.”


Mbot: “I’m not giving you mine.”

Gbot, eyeing Henry Hochenwaller: “Can I just yook at it?”

Mbot: “Baby Gbot will look at it.”

Mbot, gazing happily at his key chain while Gbot held his out at arm’s length trying to give it away: “Purple is my best.”

Gbot: “Here ya go, Mbot.”

Me: “We will make him another eye. We will make him a smile. He will be so happy!”

We are scheduled to fly to Idaho in seventy-two hours to visit my parents. I needed to look for Gbot’s snowsuit. And unpack my suitcase from Chicago so I can repack it. I need to finish an essay before tomorrow’s deadline. I need to locate the source of that subtle but persistent odor of antique cat pee that I’d noticed since my return. But it was necessary surgery–even Aetna would have agreed. I found a needle and thread. By mistake I found the two pieces of felt that I knew I had somewhere. By serendipity I found a bead.

As I changed Wilfred’s outlook on life, it seemed obvious that he’d started out a bad choice. He was obviously an unhappy, one-eyed whack job. I was lucky Gbot hadn’t burst into tears. I might as well have made him watch Una Navidad Sin Pluto all over again.

This afternoon, I presented Gbot with the new and improved Wilfred.

Gbot: “He is not frowning anymore!”


Gbot: “He is good.”

Now I can pack.

After: Henry, Wilfred, and the rest of us can now get on with our lives. We're all very happy about it.

2 thoughts on “Just In: Mother Brings Scary Monster Back From Chicago

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