We don’t serve your kind here…

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[I think there’s a clause in my Balloon Juice contract about pet photos. This one depicts my dog Patsy, who harbors ambitions to become a biped. She loves to belly up to our backyard tiki bar.

You can see the whites of her eyes because she’s scanning the surface of the bar for pretzels without turning her head far enough to lose her balance. Sadly, there were no pretzels. We now return to our regularly scheduled post, already in progress.]

I have a 13-year-old daughter, which is why I don’t scare easily. She can be a pain in the ass sometimes, but she’s a good person in all the important ways. I’m proud of her and also relieved that I’ve thus far avoided the massive karmic blowback my own mother is gleefully awaiting in compensation for the gigantic pain in the ass I gave her. (Knock wood—and yes, I know, I know: Give her time!)

Anyhoo, as many teens do, Young Miss Cracker seeks to assert her originality by emulating the fashion sense and hairstyles of celebrities. This month, it appears to be Rooney Mara in the title role of the film Girl with the Dragon Tattoo.  Of course, Young Miss has never actually seen that film, and I draw the line at allowing her to get real tattoos or piercings or to wear clothing emblazoned with the word “fuck.”

To compensate for these restrictions, she dyes portions of her spiky hairdo vivid colors, achieving a sort of peacock effect. I think it’s kind of cute, and it certainly stands out in our little town, garnering amazed commentary from grocery cashiers to farmers’ market attendants to parents at the little league softball field, which is kind of the point, I guess.

This latter group (little league mombies) has long eyed us warily, ever since asking me years ago what church we attend and receiving a “we’re not religious” in reply. They’re thus unsurprised that I allow my daughter to eschew Bumpits and ponytails in favor of a vaguely Satanic hairdo and god only knows what else. I can sense the clucking and pitying glances thrown my way as I sit stoically in the bleachers during practice, reading a book or scrolling through godless blog comments on my iPhone.

Earlier this week, my daughter and I took it into our heads to teach ourselves to juggle. We found numerous video tutorials on YouTube and selected one that seemed likely. All we lacked were appropriate objects to juggle. After softball practice, we stopped by the discount general store to see if we could find tennis balls. They didn’t have any, but they did have cat toys that would do the trick. We selected three nearly tennis ball-sized ones and three smaller ones.

The lady at the check-out asked us how many cats we have, and we told her we had none and intended instead to use the balls to teach ourselves to juggle. The conversation then took a strange turn: She asked us what we had against pets. We assured her that we adore pets and in fact have two dogs. Then she asked us what we had against cats specifically. I told her I think cats are perfectly lovely, but my husband doesn’t really like them, and that we are basically dog people.

She then launched into a passionate defense of cats, which she needn’t have since I had already told her I have nothing at all against the critters. She implied that people who dislike cats are heartless monsters, which was kind of rude since I’d just told her my husband doesn’t care for them. But I let it pass, grabbed our cat toys and receipt got the hell out of there.

We got home and commenced the juggling lesson. It’s harder than it looks. Our YouTube instructor recommended throwing a single ball in an eye-level arc from hand to hand until it can easily be done with one’s eyes closed before moving on to the next step.

My daughter lacked the patience to perfect each step before moving on to the next, so after just a few minutes of arcing a single ball, she was attempting to introduce a second and then a third, and soon she was chasing them all over the room and trying to extract them from the slobbery mouths of our dogs, who couldn’t understand why we were hogging what were clearly PET toys to ourselves.

Mr. Cracker had been out all morning, and he arrived home to this scene of chaos. When we explained that we were trying to learn to juggle, he picked up three balls and commenced juggling like a goddamned trained circus clown! Not just basic juggling either -– he could do fancy moves too like passing one ball from hand to hand while lobbing and catching the other two straight up and down in perfect synchronicity.

Now, my daughter and I have known this man for 13 and 17 years respectively, and not once has he ever dropped a single hint that he possessed this talent. While it’s true that juggling may not have ever come up specifically, wouldn’t a person who knew how to juggle so well have demonstrated that talent at some point during the course of nearly two fucking decades? Maybe while sorting socks or something?

Our daughter declared that she hated him and stormed off to her room, slamming the door hard enough to rattle the windows. She’ll probably never attempt to juggle again. As for me, I’m left to wonder what else the heartless, cat-hating bastard is hiding from us…

[X-POSTED at Balloon Juice]

Posted by Betty Cracker on 01/29/12 at 09:29 AM • Permalink

Categories: CrittersMessylaneous

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This entire post gives me happyjoy.

Thanks for the Sunday morning smile.

Great story, Betty.

I was the boy version of your daughter. Actually made my mother cry when I shaved my head as a teenager. Traumatizing! But it didn’t stop me from continuing to be willfully strange before the rubes of suburban Chicago.

Eight words: Don’t have a grandson with a dog collar.

Comment by J. on 01/29/12 at 11:50 AM

I draw the line at allowing her to [...] wear clothing emblazoned with the word “fuck.”

This rule was severe enough with my folks that it never needed to be stated explicitly. I found out that even at my current middle age I can’t bring myself to wear such things, even on weekends, and even though I scored something along those lines just to support its creator.

(the design is a gag from a webcomic in which the heroine is given the task of creating an ad campaign for her workplace; she produces this as a joke to piss off her boss.)

Comment by Xecky Gilchrist on 01/29/12 at 12:06 PM

I learned to juggle in college, though never more than the basic 3-ball thing.  If you want to learn, it’s much easier with soft things like hacky sacks or juggling balls, since they’re smaller and won’t bounce out of your hands if you don’t make a perfect catch.

lemme get you a beer, Daisy. Huzzah to Mr. Cracker’s hidden talents! Boys rule! Girls just drop stuff all over the place!

Xecky: The fukken shit! Love it.

Sorry, I meant Patsy.

The fukken shit! Love it.

I do appreciate advertising that just gets right to the point.

Great post, Mrs Cracker!

Let your hubby have a secret or two. It makes them feel clever.

I’ve raised two and three quarter sons. The 24 year old and the 22 year old are off doing wonderful things, while the 18 year old still lives here at home, attending a local university. We’ve had many hair-related issues over the years with them. The middle son’s hair hung so far down his face that he had to have his driver’s license photo taken twice to make sure they could see that he had eyes.

No tatts, though, thank god. My husband would disown any of them.

Betty, Patsy is too damn adorable bellying up to the bar.  Good on you for giving your daughter some flexibility in her personal affects. 

And, juggling is lots of fun.  I taught myself ages ago after seeing The Flying Karamazov Brothers live.  I was Dmitri. 

This whole post is a hoot and a half!

I taught myself to juggle at some point, back in the pre youtube days.  Couldn’t really do anything fancy until I got college credit for making juggling my required PE course.

You should have turned it right around and demanded of that pet store woman what she had against dogs.  And then ignored whatever she said, and gotten even more indignant.  “Do your customers know you hate dogs?  Does Jesus know?”  etc.

Next time.  Promise?

Couldn’t really do anything fancy until I got college credit for making juggling my required PE course.

Let me guess: Santa Cruz?

Let me guess: Santa Cruz?

I was thinking Evergreen - I went to a similar school that isn’t as famous.

When I first started dating my (now) husband, it took over 6 months before I could get him to play his guitar for me; he plays beautifully - tough stuff like jazz.  It’s funny what men will hide from you, if only for a little while.

Also have a daughter who is 13.  She’s adopted from Java where we lived for many years. Of course, as an adopted kid, you don’t really know what you are getting.  She turns out to be fabulous - serious soccer jock and also a good scholar.  But she’s now into this snarky Asians are better than Whites tease. Also, wild crazes that change seemingly every week. No juggling, though - at least not yet.

Xecky, I wish I had gone to one of those hippie schools. It sounds like a blast.

This post made me furiously happy!  I just love your family (dogs included, of course).

Love Patsy at the bar, sending over our Boxer, Lola, to sip some Yellow Birds with her.  My husband juggles, too, but I had to sit through watching him learn.  better they should come pre-trained, it’s easier on the house.  (FYI, he liked Juggling for Klutzes,)

How unsettling to find yourself married to a Secret Juggler, and how I sympathize with the gorgeously plumed Miss Cracker’s reaction, though perhaps for the wrong reason. I would have been thinking, “You mean you let my entire babyhood go by without juggling for me?”

One of my friends tried to teach me to juggle. Step one, toss the ball up and catch it at least twice in a row, confounded me for three hours.

So now I play ukulele, at which I am also very bad, but I don’t drop it nearly as often.

And also: lovely, lucky Patsy, being able to belly up to the Cracker Tiki Bar.

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