Friday, March 13, 2015
Out of the woods
My favorite television show as a child aired Monday nights on NBC. Unfortunately, I had classical guitar lessons on Monday nights. So I was always tearing myself away from the opening credits of "Little House on the Prairie" -- scenes of the Ingalls girls leaping through golden fields in joy -- to schlepp over to campus and pretend, badly, to have practiced ten bars of Flamenco that I clearly had not practiced. It was a bit of a sad night. But when I got home, I could at least catch the final twenty minutes.
Back then, I felt that Little House -- as we called it -- was a window into the excellence of a superior time and people. That the Ingalls family was simply leading a better life than my own family -- despite living in a one-room shack, eating salt pork, and getting buttons for Christmas -- was a self-evident fact to me, though I could not quite explain why.
Now as an adult, reading "Little House on the Big Woods" to my own children, I have the maturity to see that I was wrong about Little House all those years ago.
Turns out, I completely underestimated how great -- how "badass," if I may say so -- Ma and Pa Ingalls were. They make the chicken-raising, organic food-eating parents of today look like decadent slobs.
On a typical night at my house, we are reading about the bear-killing, butter-churning Ingalls over a meal cooked in the microwave for four minutes, or hot dogs. (No one knows what is in the hot dogs: We didn't kill them. We didn't even trap them.)
This got me to thinking . . .
10 Ways in Which My House is Not Like Little House In the Big Woods:
1. Pa has his own little house -- across town. It's just better that way, trust me.
2. My daughter does not play with a corn cob dressed up as a doll, but with a Samsung Galaxy tablet dressed in a hot-pink neoprene case. She loves it very much. I think she might have named it Pru.
3. Pa's rifle is not hung over the door to ward off bears, thieves, native peoples, or other potential threats. Instead, the kids and I mostly rely on phones to keep us "safe": A landline. A cell phone. And of course, the kids' Galaxy tablets.
4. If I go out to the barn to feed the cow one night, and the lantern light is low, and I reach out to pet the cow and call her Sukey, and it's really a bear, I am going to FREAK OUT.
5. On the Sabbath, the kids can pretty much do whatever they want. Also, every other day. What?
6. When I put on my best dress to go to a dance party occasioned by the running of the sap (and at which sap is made into delicious candy) (by Grandma), it is not dark green with a pattern of strawberries, sweeping the ground with its full skirt. It is a black lace mini-dress designed by Madonna's daughter, from the juniors' section at Macy's. It actually may be kind of tacky. (Memo to self: Purchase new sap dress.)
7. If someone were to sass Pa, they would not get whipped with a strap. They would instead be told: "Enough! Now go play on your tablet."
8. The kids do not warm their hands in sub-zero Wisconsin weather with hot potatoes in their pockets. We took them to the California mountains once to see the snow, and they were stunned by how cold it was. They literally could not believe it. Eventually, we found a pizza place with an arcade.
9. Grandpa was never chased through the woods by a black panther. That is a common misconception about Grandpa. I think he had a dog once.
10. We do not live in the "big woods." The little house part is right, though.