Monday, March 20, 2006

Another tape I found in the back of our liquor closet is labelled Jay + Friends June 5 1983. I guess at a little under eighteen months old, I was already giving dissertations worth recording for posterity....

...or no, upon actual examination of the tape, it's somebody's birthday and the family is goading me into singing. It's very demeaning — not for me, since it's difficult to find anything demeaning when you still crap your pants on a daily basis — but for the drawling, babbling grown-ups in my family, repeating over and over again, in increasingly high-pitched voices, "Do you wanna sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat? Go ahead. Sing Row, Row, Row Your Boat. [singing] Row, row, row your boat... Now you sing!" This goes on for about fifteen minutes until I finally begin bleating out something that isn't a song so much as it's the random squeaks at random volumes that a drunk makes. Invariably, I've charmed everyone at the table, and debate ensues over whether I can watch Sesame Street. It goes something like this:

Mom: You can watch Sesame Street after you finish your milk.

Grandma: Lat-te. Can you say "latte"?

Adults with toddlers amuse themselves by asking their poor kids, who don't understand English or any other language, if they can repeat things. For all their cooing and shit, parents really treat their babies more like answering machines than actual humans.

Me: [squeak]

Grandma: Very good! Latte!

Me: [squeak]

Mom: Okay, Jay, finish your milk.

Me: [squeak]

Back then, they were really taping every stupid, meaningless thing I ever did. I have a tape here — an audio tape, mind you — of me drawing pictures or coloring a coloring book or something. Dad asks me what newspaper he's reading. We eat lunch. My soup is getting cold. "What newspaper is that? What newspaper is that? Tell us the name of that newspaper." I feel like my dad is trying to train an intransigent dog or something. But it sort of saddens me, since these days we've grown so damn jaded that my parents didn't even bother to videotape my graduation.

My favorite line from this tape...

Dad: So what newspaper is this?

Me: I don't know.

It actually sounds more like, "squeak."

Dad: You don't know? That's your answer for everything.

How prescient. It's like I'm already a teenager.


DL said...

Could be worse, I didn't even go to my graduation.