A Small, Irritating Raccoon Celebrates Father’s Day

So, here is a confession: the Andrews family crest is headed by a small, irritating raccoon.

The small, irritating raccoon can even irritate another inanimate object.

The small, irritating raccoon can even irritate another inanimate object.

A small, irritating raccoon made from cotton pompoms, holding a pompom apple, both apple and raccoon circa 1975.

A small, irritating, inanimate raccoon by the name of Superpeeky.

There are actually two of him. Different generations. Identical except for the fact that one was acquired by my brother when he was five, and the other two years later. My brother carried them around everywhere, with a fist around their necks (an anatomical feature denoted by the layer of glue affixing the pompom body to the pompom head.) Over the years, their necks elongated and they lost any semblance of a chin they once may have possessed.

Over the decades, Superpeeky has contracted a personality like some contract a disease. He is an egomaniac; he thinks he can fly but is tragically anti-aerodynamic; his brain, such as it is, with just one axon spinning wildly in attempt to synapse with itself, actually resides in the apple that he carries between his front paws; he lusts after the female wild boars who root about the bamboo forests near my brother’s home in Japan, and he is suspected of having fathered several boar/raccoon offspring, probably born with their apples in their mouths, but no one knows for sure, as none have ever been sighted.

The Superpeekies have also acquired a brief but notable wardrobe. Grandpa Supes (the elder) wears a red-and-white striped suit that I hand-stitched for him I think when I was nine. He has not taken it off since. Over this, he wears a Magic Tanning Shirt. It is pale yellow with a white polo collar, fashioned by my mother long ago in homage to a ten dollar shirt my father wore for over two decades during annual family vacations to Hawaii, and which he insisted accounted for his deep and even tan, which was the envy of his teenaged daughters. (It was the eighties). The original shirt was immune to the ravages of time, the changing of fashions, and an onslaught of sand, suntan lotion, sloughed skin, and derogatory remarks. As though feeding on the negative attention, it only grew stronger (while growing shorter and more misshapen) as the years passed. Sort of like Yoda.

I finally forced its retirement by purchasing a new Ralph Lauren model in a similar shade of yellow, but like Freddy Kreuger or, more accurately, like a wolf spider, who carries its pinpoint-sized, newly hatched spiderlings on its vast back, and if crushed by, say, Harry Potter, Volume 3, in the middle of the night, lives on in the miniature versions of itself that are small enough to scuttle to freedom (until they’re sprayed with toilet bowl cleanser)*, the shirt found new life in Superpeeky-sized versions of itself.

(If at this point you are questioning the sanity of my family, I am in no position to offer you assurances of normalcy. But if you ever find yourself in an airport interrogation room being questioned about why a small, irritating raccoon holding an apple and made out of pompoms is wearing a polo shirt, you’ll be able to whip out an answer with convincing speed.)

Superpeeky the younger can often be found sporting the Magic Tanning Shirt, which he wears sporadically, as the mood moves his keepers (the Superpeekies rotate between my brother’s office in Japan and my parents’ bookshelves in Idaho, when they haven’t been kidnapped by other family members who have been known to demand ransom in macadamia nuts).

One could write a doctoral dissertation on the psychosociological ramifications of Superpeeky. In the meantime, he has several practical uses.

He makes an excellent foil against which to measure oneself and the situations in which one finds oneself (for example, “Wow, gout must really suck, but by God, at least your brain isn’t in your apple.”)

He also provides a good go-to subject for special-occasion customized greeting cards when the selection of eCards falls short. For example:

FATHER’S DAY CAN GET BETTER AS YOU GET OLDER

and your hearing starts to go:

img001

img002

I’m just saying, every family should have a Superpeeky. (But if ours disappears, we will track you down and make you wear a Magic Tanning Shirt.)

*Not that that ever, ever happened in real life in the bots’ bedroom, leaving Husbot to clean up the poisonous toilet bowl cleanser which presented much more of a potential hazard to bots than a harmless yet large and gross mommy wolf spider.

Building the Future, One Accident at a Time

1940s wool knit swimming trunks with adjustable herringbone pattern belt. (www.kaboodle.com)

If necessity is the mother of invention, then who’s the father?

I’m taking a stab here, but I’m guessing it’s the accident. Food scientists postulate that the first cheese was made by a thirsty traveler 10,000 years ago when he used a cow stomach for a thermos and walked to the next town. He arrived, not with milk, but with ricotta. And of course there’s Christopher Columbus, who was looking for India. And then, there is the Swim Jammie. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We were speaking of fathers. Mine calls himself The Guru. As he is a 72-year old white male born in Fort Lee, New Jersey, whose only forays to foreign lands involve a fishing rod and knee-deep water the temperature of freshly peed-in pants, one might assume that when he uses this moniker, he is making fun of himself.

Close observation has led me to conclude that, while he knows this should be the case, it is not actually so.

The Guru considers himself an unassailable expert on fashion, food, child-rearing, how the world should be, and New England racing schooners of the early twentieth century. He is right about the last one. I also hear that, before retirement, he did a mean aortic graft.

About the first few things, though, other family members would undoubtedly be more willing to embrace his Guru-osity if evidence existed that he knew the difference between gray and green, if he didn’t avoid all dishes containing onions, garlic, or cheese, if he had done actual child-rearing, and if he didn’t depend on my mother to interact with the world on his behalf. No one knows exactly when or where the term “The Guru” originated, in reference to my father, but we do know that, when family members use it other than The Guru himself, we are, without exception, making fun of him.

He takes this well because he knows we are wrong.

It should be stated that my family is fortunate in that we have no early onset Alzheimer’s in the bloodline. And so we all could—and did—laugh without underlying nervousness when, a few weeks ago while on vacation in Hawaii, The Guru got half way to the beach wearing his beach shirt, his flip-flops, and his pajama bottoms. He only noticed when my mother wanted to put a key in his pocket, and found there was only one pocket, and that it already had something in it. He took the elevator back up to the fifth floor to change. When my mother told me the story, she could barely speak between howls of mirth.

Upstairs, my sister greeted him at the door. She immediately saw the reason for his premature return. My father had trouble getting past her body, which, in her account, was lying fetal on the entryway floor in spasms of hilarity.

Now is the time to bring on the excuses: The pajama bottoms were shorts-like. Not so different from a pair of swim trunks. That’s as far as The Guru got with the excuses. There just weren’t any more.

anti-sag wool knit one-piece, 1930s(www.theretroknittingcompany.co.uk)

This week, to recreate the warm feelings of the moment, my sister is making him, for his birthday on Friday, a pair of Swim Jammies. A comfortable and fashionable multi-use garment that goes from bed to beach with the flair your old-fashioned swim trunks only wish they had. In our family mythology, we imagine there might be a future in them. Certain styles, perhaps something in a manly yet floral short-nap velour, may yet make it all the way through Happy Hour and back to bed again. After all, The Guru Knows.

We laugh, but just think….My mother marvels at how her mother would never have thought of going out in public wearing pants instead of a skirt. She marveled at her own daring self when she put on that leotard for the first time (see Passengers in Zone 4, Please Board While Doing the Charleston). Perhaps, in spite of all the heckling he gets, The Guru might be on to something. My only reservation is that he might be too far ahead of his time. The world might not yet be ready for the Swim Jammie. Such a bold statement of leisure, adaptability, and confidence may not work in fashion for another decade or two. To make this one fly, we would have to send Jake Gyllenhaal free samples and hope he wears them in his next film.

1970s British men's swimwear (www.thedabbler.co.uk)

Perhaps it’s premature to reserve a week of production time at Ningbo Yinzhou Headway Stationery Co., Ltd., in Zhejiang, China, the home turf of Fall Apart Chubby (Post #2, 9/14/11), although apparel is slightly out of their specialty range of erasers and ball point pens anyway. But if a phone can show movies, pajamas might swim. And if Jake likes  ’em, phones might show movies of pajamas that swim.

Long live The Guru.

What’s your invention, accidental or non?