Monday, June 22 2020

father's day, navigation, and willy wonka



banners/2020 06 22

Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Monday. I hope you had a restful weekend, and that you found time to call all the dads in your life. I had a wonderful father's day, and the proof of that is evident in how messy the house is this morning. With Marissa assuming double kid duty, running interference for Rodney pretty much all day, I leaned into the preferential treatment and spent most of the day shirking my responsibilities, snacking and lounging around isntead. I think yesterday, the most arduous task I accomplished was making a pair of grilled cheese sandwiches in the kitchen.`

"I'll leave you the rest of the leftover chicken," I said to Marissa as we ate lunch together on the back porch.

"Actually," she replied hesitantly, "would you make another grilled cheese for me?"

"Rissa - " I said springing up to my feet. "I'll make you a grilled cheese anytime you ask. That's my personal code. You could roll me over in the middle of the night after a night of heavy drinking, and I'd still make you a heckin' grilled cheese." My voice trailed off as the back door snapped shut behind me.

Later, while calling my dad to wish him a happy father's day, he helped set the record straight with the story I told about him in yesterday's entry.

"It was near Bloomington," he said. "The shipping charges were in excess of 300 bucks, so I decided to drive the speakers the 3 hours and pocket the shipping."

"So technically, we never left Illinois - it just figures that I had no idea where we were," I laughed.

I guess whenever I tell a story about my childhood, if there's any part of the context that involves geography, take that with a grain of salt. There was another time where I was reminiscing with Marissa bout a summer camp I used to attend called Camp Manitoqua.

"Where was it located?" asked my wife.

"Oh it was like way out in the boonies," I replied. "I think it was in like northern Wisconsin, or maybe even like Michigan? I just remember it being so dark at night, you couldn't even see your hand in front of your face. And there were thousands of stars in the night sky. It felt like the real wilderness."

"Let's look it up," said Marissa. "Maybe you and Rodney can do a father-son weekend or something." Marissa opened a browser tab to Google maps and punched in the name of the camp. The screen zoomed in on a bright red pin.

"Camp Manitoqua, there it is," I said pointing at the screen.

"It's... in Chicago, hon," said Marissa. "Look, it's just south of Tinley Park." We both broke out into laughter.

manitoqua map

The dark, uncharted wilderness of the south Chicago suburbs, as I remembered it.

So I'm not a natural navigator. I think as I kid, I wasn't naturally observant, and I was also unlucky enough to grow up in a time where only observant people could get where they needed to go. I would have thrived nowadays, where smartphones are so good that email addresses, phone numbers, and locations are just second hand information scraped from a quick google search.

For dinner, we ordered from my favorite Chinese restaurant, setting up on the couch in weekend style with a feast of orange chicken, fried rice, egg rolls, and crab rangoons.

"What are we watching, daddy? You get TV pick," said Marissa.

"How boooooout... Blippi," said Rodney.

"How about a movie," I said. I scrolled through our movie and found the original Willy Wonka movie. "Rod - have you ever seen this movie? This is one of my favorites - you're going to love it."

The movie immediately lured us in. Rodney stared as the screen in wonder. And in the I have a Golden Ticket number where Grandpa Joe sprung out of his bed to dance with Charlie, Rodney clapped his hangs and tapped his toe with glee.

It was a smooth, family friendly ride until we got to the first... um... factory accident. We arrived at the scene where August Gloop greedily drinks with his hands from the chocolate river. Rodney was so anxious he stopped chewing. A long lo mein noodle hung from his mouth while he stared at the screen without blinking.

And then Augustus Gloop rolled into the river. His mother shrieked, and all that was seen of him were some frantic bubbles beneath the brown surface. Rodney's face welled with tears and he began to cry.

"Oh dude, I got you," I said, letting him crawl into my lap. "What's wrong... too scary?"

"YEAH" said Rodney, wailing. "TOO SCARY."

"They're just joking around, dude," said Marissa. "Look, if we keep watching, he's going to shoot out of the tube."

"They're just joking around," I repeated. Rodney sheepishly looked at the screen, peeking one eye out from underneath my tight embrace.

"Just joking around," Rodney repeated, quietly. "It's pretty scary though."

"I think we're all done with this movie," I said. "I was feeling like a walk anyway. Let's go get some icecream."

Marissa and I finished the movie after Rodney went to bed. Together, we watched the scene where Wonka takes them on a boat ride through the tunnel. Wonka's bizarre song grows to a fierce and maniacal battle cry. The children scream as visions of spiders and worms flicker on the dark cave walls.

"So what do you think of the movie, Rodney?" I laughed, pretending Rodney was beside me.

"This would have been a disaster," said Marissa. "I'm glad he stopped watching so early in the movie. Was it a mistake to watch this?"

"It's rated G!" I exclaimed. "We watched this when we were kids. And I really liked it. I remember hating the boat cave scene, but I still admired it and I couldn't look away."

"Isn't it funny," added Marissa. "The new movie has CGI and more back story, but it's still not nearly as scary as this version. And it doesn't suck you in as much."

"It's because CGI isn't a replacement for gravitas," I said.

This morning, I was curious about the song Wonka sings while taking the children through the dark boat cave. So I looked up the lyrics:

There's no earthly way of knowing
Which direction we are going
There's no knowing where we're rowing
Or which way the river's flowing

Is it raining, is it snowing?
Is a hurricane a-blowing?

Not a speck of light is showing
So the danger must be growing
Are the fires of Hell a-glowing?
Is the grisly Reaper mowing?

Yes! The danger must be growing
For the rowers keep on rowing
And they're certainly not showing
Any signs that they are slowing

Let me remind you that this movie is rated G. They certainly don't make movies the way they used to, huh? Thanks for stopping by this morning - I hope you have a wonderful day.