Monday, July 20, 2009
Impressions, Confusion, & Shattered Illusions
It was bad enough when I had to shatter his illusions regarding food and explain to him that we actually eat most of those cute barnyard-type animals whose names he spent all that time learning. But now I went and did the same thing for his cartoons. I didn't mean to. I didn't even think about it as the words came out of my mouth. It was like being in a car accident; you can see it all happening in slow motion, but by the time you realize what's happening it's far too late to do anything. I admit it. I effectively killed his favorite television character, Little Bear. I committed cartoonicide.
It all started harmlessly enough when we rented the movie Babar: King of the Elephants. We're sitting and watching this generally innocuous movie (well, accept for when the director decided it was necessary to shoot and kill Babar's mother while he was playfully riding on her back, but that's a whole other post). And then it happened.
Now, I've mentioned before that LR has a great ear. At the risk of sounding immodest, he gets that ear from me. No, not that cute little Mr Spock pointy thing I have going on (well, okay, that too), but an ear for recognizing sounds and, often, being able to reproduce them. For him, this means an ability to pick out correctly the softest of musical instruments in a composition, and the ability to correctly hear and then reproduce the most difficult foreign words (e.g., Chinese) or the most bizarre accents. (He does a "wicked good" impression of the average Bostonian).
For me, this ability is primarily limited to the rather useless ability to name the most esoteric actor that I might see on late night television that I previously saw only once before some twenty-odd years ago. I freely admit that my life is fairly uninteresting; I get an inordinate amount of pleasure from the most meaningless of accomplishments. In this case, I was extremely proud of the fact that I had correctly identified the woman who was doing the voice of "young Babar." It was the same woman who does the voice for Little Bear. Naturally, I felt compelled to share this earth-shattering achievement with my only son.
I said "I know that voice." He, of course, looked at me like I was nuts (which I was) and said "What voice?" It was at this point that I clearly saw the oncoming traffic and instinctively knew that there would soon be mangled cars lying at the side of the road. Unfortunately, I was going too fast to stop. "Babar's voice!" Not only couldn't I stop, I felt compelled to hit the accelerator. "Close your eyes and tell me who you hear talking," I said.
He obligingly did so and the next time Babar opened his mouth, he heard it. His little green eyes popped open and, for the first time, I saw someone's jaw actually hit the floor. "Why is he doing that?" he cried. "Doing what?" "Why is he talking like Little Bear?!"
I tried (unsuccessfully) to calm him down and then spent (I swear to God) the next thirty minutes trying to explain to him that Babar wasn't actually "doing" anything. "You see, there's this woman; no, we don't know her. And she's the one who's doing the talking. Yes, I know she sounds like Little Bear. That's because she does the voice for Little Bear, too. No, sweetheart, you're not really hearing Little Bear talk. Sweetheart, Little Bear is pretend; you know that, it's a made-up story." And it pretty much went downhill from there.
Little Bear, we hardly knew ye.