Bright, shiny objects.
Dangle them in front of me, and I’m yours. I’ll follow you anywhere, do whatever you want.
Got some shiny keys?
Flip them around. They’ll do the trick, especially if they jangle. A little noise is a bonus.
Got something brightly colored, round and plastic?
Can I jam it in my mouth?
I love this stuff.
I realize this as I sit on the floor, goofing around with my grandson, Banzai. He is six months old. His attention span is nearly nonexistent; his horizon line extends only to the next meal and bowel movement, to the next person who tickles his feet, and to … bright, shiny objects.
He’s just like me!
We are poster children for ADD, although Banzai will probably grow out of it.
So, we’re on the floor and … oooh, wait a minute. There’s something moving around outside the office window. Gotta go see.
OK, I’m back.
Where was I? Let me start over and read this piece from the beginning. It won’t take more than a sec.
All right, I’m on track.
ADD. Banzai and me on the floor, messing around with some brightly-colored pieces of plastic and a sippy cup, having a rip roarin’ good time putting things in our mouths and making racket.
I didn’t get to do this stuff with my granddaughter, Forest (or’“Dr. Forest” as she now calls herself). Thank goodness I get this chance.
I am babysitting Banzai. Kathy is off to play piano and the kid and I are left at home. He works over his sippy cup, releasing major league amounts of slobber. I pull lustily on a gin and tonic from my sippy cup, and we watch an episode of “Cops” in which a guy dressed in a wife-beater T-shirt accidentally slices his girlfriend open while practicing his knife-thrower act. He always wanted to work in the carnival. The guy is goal-oriented.
“Let this be a lesson, Banzai. Don’t drink too much before you hurl edged weapons at your sweetheart. It’s first-degree assault any way you cut it.”
Banzai is not one for puns. He stuffs a huge plastic cylinder in his mouth and lets out a delighted squeal as he rolls over. This is his favorite thing to do at this point: roll over.
I stretch out and try it. Granted, I have more of an obstacle to overcome, waistwise, but I struggle and I manage to flip to my back.
Good, simple fun.
Banzai is able to watch television action, providing the images shift at lightning speed, accompanied by soundtracks loud enough to capture his attention.
I am in the same mode, so the two of us are in TV heaven as I frantically work the remote, moving from one channel to the next in rapid-fire order. I crank up the sound and deliver a flurry of flashy programming tidbits.
Banzai signals his approval by gurgling and hurling a teething ring across the room.
If Kathy were here, she would yell and say ugly things to me about my condition and my manic manipulation of the medium.
We’re perfectly suited to each other.
From “Cops” I rip over to “Cheaters” where Mel is caught in a hot tub with Rita by an enraged Wanda, who has good reason to be miffed — not only is Mel having an affair with Rita, but Wanda, the mother of his three young ’uns, is working two convenience store jobs to put him through computer repair school.
“Learn from this, little man. Text messages can be traced, and hot tubs are nothing but trouble.”
From “Cheaters” we’re off to Banzai’s favorite: “So You Think You Can Dance?” Color, noise, unceasing motion.
Then, we’re speed to “Housewives of New Jersey.” Color, noise, unrelenting commotion.
“Beware of women with grossly long fingernails, Banzai. Nothing but trouble.”
We’re in hog heaven, going nuts until …
Remember the short horizon line?
We run smack dab into it.
The first sign is a puzzled look on Banzai’s face. It quickly gives way to one of clear consternation, which passes rapidly to an expression of blissful satisfaction.
Then, the odor hits.
I am familiar with these signs. I go through the same thing every morning.
So, it’s upstairs to change the diaper.
Has anyone ever told you that you must be very careful when you remove a male baby’s diaper, given that he has the ability and, I submit, the desire to — how shall we say? — cause collateral damage?
We get tidied up and the next horizon line collapses in on us.
Where, ten minutes earlier, Banzai and I had been the happiest of pals, rolling around on the floor with our sippy cups and watching a bazillion TV shows in five minutes, Banzai is now quite crabby.
And so am I.
It’s time to eat.
My daughter, Ivy, has left some breast milk in a bottle and I fetch it from the fridge, and put it a pan of warm water. When the temp is right, I apply the money end of said bottle to a now screeching Banzai’s mouth and …
It’s not quite enough. The little rascal needs more. I can relate to this.
The “more” is baby food — carrots. I spoon a bit of ominous, orange mush into Banzai’s pipe and he gobbles it up. Well, he gobbles that portion that stays in his mouth. Three or four spoons of the glop satisfy my little man. I heft him up to my shoulder to burp him and I would say at least a third of the carrot mess remains in Banzai. The rest, of course, is on grandpa’s shirt, along with a healthy dose of breast milk and what appears to be a few dust bunnies from the basement floor.
But, Banzai is happy once again and it is back to the TV and our sippy cups. We check out Rachel Ray (Banzai seems to appreciate a stout, loud woman who can cook) and we take in snippets of “Ice Road Truckers,” “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and the “South Park” episode in which Randy becomes a Pharisee. Banzai loves the Westminster Dog Show and cage fighting, but is lukewarm when it comes to the Kardashians and Kendra.
Don’t even think about it.
We have a swell evening (I refill my sippy cup three times and change Banzai’s diaper twice).
Once the kid departs with his Dad, I realize two cases of severe ADD require some incredible entertainment efforts. And you get tuckered out dealing with a 6-month-old roughneck.
I’m old. And I am tired.
Banzai ate, now what to do for me and Kathy?
There’s a bit of mushed carrot in the baby food jar. I taste it.
It’s going to have to be something fast, and easy. Anything difficult or time consuming and I am liable to collapse before I finish.
Garbage can pasta. That’s the ticket.
I search the fridge, pantry and freezer. I find shaved Parmesan cheese, frozen peas, heavy cream, grape tomatoes, a zucchini, pitted kalamata olives, chicken stock, capers, an onion, garlic, a carrot, parsley, olive oil, a pack of perciatelli, butter and a mess of fresh basil.
It’s all there.
Perciatelli is the perfect pasta for this kind of assemblage. It is long and tubular, made to catch sauce.
I slice the carrot and par cook it in a heavy skillet in a bit of boiling salted water. On to the stove goes a pot of salted water, to boil.
I chop the onion, mince three cloves of garlic, peel and chop the zucchini, chop parsley and basil, and halve and seed the tomatoes.
I drain the water from the heavy skillet, add olive oil, turn the heat to medium, toss in the onion and zucchini, and cook until the onion is soft.
When the water in the pot boils, I toss in the pasta.
Into the skillet go the tomatoes, olives and capers, with half the chopped basil and a bit of salt and pepper.
When the pasta is just on the firm side of al dente, I drain it and toss it in the skillet, adding the peas and a half cup or so of stock, I turn up the heat a bit. The pasta cooks to al dente, most of the stock is absorbed or evaporates and I throw in the rest of the basil, hit the mix with a flurry of parmesan, splash in some heavy cream, add a couple knobs of butter for good measure, season to taste and, when the mix comes together, I eat it.
Spectacular. And all in less than a half hour.
I am in a hurry, after all.
There is a new episode of “Cops” on at seven and I need to find my sippy cup.
I wonder if I should call Banzai?