Sunday, July 26 2020

haunty, new neighbors, and lord of the rings

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, friends. Happy Sunday. It's a quiet morning, here. Rodney and I are winding up for the day the best we know how - me, with a hot cup of coffee, staring off into space trying to think about what to write about, and Rodney, by jumping on the couch belting out the words to Blippi's excavator video like it's a drinking song. To each his own, I guess.

Sip. We had a great day yesterday. Despite the late start to the day, Marissa and I braved a kitchen still in shambles from Friday night grilled cheese outing to make lunch, and afterwards I caught up on cleaning. Rodney spent pretty much the whole afternoon with his new K'nex crane, and overhearing the conversation in his head, I learned some things about it.

  1. The crane's name is Haunty - as in "haunt", but it emphatically has nothing to do with ghosts.
  2. Haunty is a good boy.
  3. The weights at the end of Haunty's hook are coins, and he gives them out to other good boys and people that win his favor.

Haunty is a fine addition to our family. And since I already begin each morning embellishing Rodney by conversing with his Spider-Man toy, Krang the sourdough starter, and our fish Ibb and Obb, why not add one more imaginary character in the mix?

As I was cleaning the kitchen, Rodney wandered in with Haunty at his side asking for a plastic bag.

"In the drawer dude, help yourself," I replied, smiling. When I wasn't looking, Rodney grabbed a dozen Ziploc bags, filling them each with a single toy from his toy corner and arranging them at Haunty's feet, like an altar. I discovered the bizarre spread on the couch the same time Marissa did.

"He said the bags are so Haunty can pick them up," said Marissa, bringing me up to speed.

"I can't even be mad," I laughed. "I showed him where the bags were because I assumed he was just trying to organize something, and I felt proud."

Rodney went down for a nap, and Marissa and I worked outside. We spent the afternoon bolting a new set of wood slats to our backyard fence. As I made trips to and from the driveway around the front of the house to the backyard, I noticed a moving truck parked in our shared driveway.

"Our new neighbors are moving in," said Marissa through a narrow gap in the other side of our fence. "I think it's a small family. They have a little girl who looks Rodney's age."

"Oh man," I laughed. "He's going to go nuts. Maybe after da' covid shakes out, they can have neighbor play dates."

Between the growing swarm of mosquitos and the waning afternoon, Marissa and I called it for the day. We decided to head inside and start on dinner.

"Hey could you do me a favor," I said quietly through our fence. "Could you let me in through the side door? I don't want to meet the neighbors while I'm wearing my baggy pajama pants and yesterday's ratty t-shirt. I don't want to scare them."

"Oh sure, I got you," replied Marissa. "I think it's polite to wait until after moving day anyway - nobody likes to meet new people while shlepping things out of a moving truck."

After putting Rodney to bed and some independent hobby time, Marissa and I reconvened on the couch to resume our Lord of the Rings marathon. Even though we came around to appreciate some aspects of my previous movie pick, The Last Temptation of Christ, Marissa insisted that for making us sit through that mess, some kind of punishment was in order.

"I'm committing us to the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy," she said. "I can't control your pick, but I'm just telling you what I'm doing with my picks."

"That seems fair," I laughed. "I'll sign on to that - if you pick The Fellowship, I'll pick the Two Towers."

Unknown to me, our copies of Lord of the Rings are the extended editions, which means we're experiencing the trilogy in its full, uncut, unfiltered nerdery.

"You know how you can tell it's a deleted scene?" I asked, interrupting the movie. "All the characters are going to bed. Or they're waking up in the morning. Or two characters are whispering to each other in the middle of the night, then they go back to bed."

"Also, when one of the characters is singing," Marissa added.

"And, just generally over-explaining something that's of little consequence?" I added a little more sardonically.

"Little consequence?" retorted Marissa. "Oh all the stuff connects. I guess I just like the movie more than you do. Did you know I was a full blown Lord of the Rings nerd?"

We finished the Mellowship of the Ring, and as promised, I used my pick on The Two Towers, or Two Extra Hours as we've been referring to it. Knowing Marissa's former obsession with these movies, I started to find joy in spoon feeding her basic facts about the movie.

"Fun fact," I said, interrupting another scene. "Did you know that Strider actually had to ride that horse? Oh and that little hobbit there? That's Frodo Baggins. You're going to want to remember him."

The movie went on. We popped popcorn and fetched another pair of beers.

"You know I never got to see Tolkien's desk at school," Marissa said. Our college kept Tolkien's desk on display in a small writing museum - allegedly the same desk on which he wrote the Lord of the Rings.

"Really?" I laughed incredulously. "For some reason I saw it on my first weekend there."

"What did you think of it?" asked Marissa.

"My first thought was 'this is small'," I said. "Like it looked like a desk for a child, or one that they would give you in a prison cell. But then the tour guide said something like 'he wrote the whole story in his head while fighting in World War 1'. Maybe he wasn't a big note-taker."

We arrived at the scene where Smeogal dives into the forbidden pool, hunting for a fish. In unison with the movie, I sang The Rock and Pool is nice and cool in my best Gollumn voice. Marissa whipped her head at me in shock.

"You do a really good Smeogal voice," she said. "I didn't expect that."

"FILTHY HOBBITSES!" I hissed, following it up with a few of his trademark GOLLUMN! GOLLUMN! retches. "I feel like everyone could do a Smeogal voice. I remember at youth group we used to stand around in a circle and just talk to each other like Smeogal. It never seemed that special."

Thanks for stopping by today. I hope you have a wonderful day today.