Tag Archive for Preller Overheard

Overheard: Maggie comments on the interior design of Chipotle

I know: I said I wasn’t posting until 2012. And that’s still totally true! Except . . . that Maggie just said another one and I had to get it down on paper. Or something like that.

Anyway, my two boys, Nick and Gavin, love Chipotle; it’s their idea of fine dining, competing only with the Five Guys burger chain for favorite fast food dispensary. Maggie, unlike her neanderthal brothers, has far more refined taste. She won’t eat fast food under any circumstances. But while we were out shopping yesterday, Gavin, Maggie, and I ducked into Chipotle for a quick bite, despite Maggie’s protests.

Maggie sniffed and observed, “It looks like a really fancy version of a prison cafeteria.

I don’t know. I think maybe she nailed it.

But what is my eleven-year-old daughter doing in prison cafeterias? Anyway, after these guys sat down, we knew it was time to leave.

Overheard: “But Dad, it’s the mud room!”

Quick story from this morning:

Nick has already gone to school. Lisa, off to work. Maggie still asleep upstairs. And it’s almost time to get Gavin, my middle schooler, out the door. Not a problem usually, as he’s pathologically punctual, like his father.

I walk into the mud room by the side door, where we hang coats and backpacks and shelve our shoes (in theory!). Clang, bang, clang! Gavin is slamming together the soles of his Reeboks, mud flying everywhere in caked clumps.

To be clear: He is inside the house as he does this. And my son is doing it out of the goodness of his dutiful heart, since we’ve recently disparaged the trail of mud inside the house, through the halls, into the kitchen, across the rug. Yesterday I went so far as to hand my put-upon son a broom and dustpan, compelled him to sweep and other hideous punishments.

So watching him bang the sneakers together, I recognize it as some form of progess.

“Gavin, you do that outside,” I said. Maybe with a little something in my voice that conveys a hint of, just possibly, frustration.

“But Dad, it’s the mud room,” he replied.

I let that sink in for a moment, admire the logic of it. The mud room. Maybe not the best name in the world. In Gavin’s mind, a room dedicated to the accumulation of mud. There should be mud, in fact. And, in fact, he was doing a swell thing. Helping the cause! A good boy.

“Yeah, but,” I replied, gently, “let’s try to keep it outside. Okay? Bang the sneakers outside.”

So he instantly steps into the wet driveway in his white socks and starts to whack away. I almost talk about the wet ground and the white socks and how maybe that’s not the best combination in the world. How it’s possible to stand just inside and kind of lean out the door when whacking said sneakers. But decide against it.

We’re moving in the right direction, one soggy step at a time.

Overheard: “I can taste things without eating them. That’s my power!”

Okay, a few things:

* My daughter is an enthusiastic girl, prone to exclamations and grand pronouncements. Especially when it comes to food. Maggie loves to eat, and does so with the zeal of a rhinoceros. Last night I told her that Mom had a meeting after work, and then we had to run out for Open House Night at school, so I was ordering pizza for the boys.

“What am I going to eat?” she asked.

I said I’d order a chicken parm sub for her.

She replied:

“Really?! Today, this morning, I had the taste of chicken parm in mouth. I can taste things without eating them. That’s my power!”

* We are two days away from Talk Like a Pirate Day. With my new picture book out, A Pirate’s Guide to First Grade, it’s assumed that I’m one of those wildly extroverted guys who loves to talk like a pirate. So I’ve done a couple of radio shows, giving it my all, billowing and sputtering. These things are best filed under, “Live & Learn.”

Regrettably, due to an excess of rum and ill-advised gusto, I cut off my right hand and inserted a hook.

I hoped it would lend me street credibility, a quality that’s equally important to rappers and children’s book authors alike. But now I can only wear slip-on shoes. Arrrr.

A while back I nominated Kiss the Book for best logo image — and my support has not wavered. It’s actually a very good site, and you can find it on my handy, dandy sidebar. The good folks over there recently reviewed A Pirate’s Guide.

Here’s the booty quote:

“If you want your students to spend the next few hours speaking and acting like pirates – this is exactly the right book for you. What a fun way to start the school year – ending with a trip to the library to find the buried treasure!”Kiss the Book.

* Lastly, two reminders: If you are within range of Tarrytown, NY, this Sunday, September 19 (which is, coincidentally “Talk Like a Pirate Day”), you’ll find me and dozens of way better authors & illustrators at “Sunnyside.” Click here for more details.

But if you are close to Ashton, MA, you can hang out with me heartie, illustrator Greg Ruth — hoist the mainsail, swill some grog, the whole magilla. I heard they are going all out for what should be a great, grand, jolly time, transforming a bookstore, Elmer’s, into a Pirate Ship! I hope Greg takes pictures. Look at the cool poster he created:

Overheard: “Mom, I Can’t Say THAT!” Subtitle: Gavin and Valentine’s Day

Ah, Valentine’s Day. What torture.

And when did it become almost exclusively about candy?

I’m reminded of one of my favorite comments made by Jigsaw Jones eleven years ago in The Case of the Secret Valentine. Jigsaw has just made an unnerving discovery: someone sent him a secret Valentine. He complains to Mila:

“You know what the worst part is,” I complained. “This girl is ruining a perfectly good holiday. I mean, I like Valentine’s Day. You get to eat cupcakes. Why does she have to drag love into it?”

Anyway, our family’s participation in the holiday has devolved over the years from our kids’  highly artistic, creative efforts at card-making to pure commercialism. Lisa now buys the cards at CVS, the kids fill ’em out, and we’re through it with a minimum of hassle.

Tip to parents: Things go so much easier when you eliminate tiresome concepts such as art, creativity, effort, and care!

Anyway, Lisa brought home some generic cards for Gavin. They contained benign messages like, I don’t know, “You’re a blast!” (cue rocket ship art), “You’re awesome!” and so on. You know the type.

Gavin looked at the cards and nearly died right there from mortification. He began twitching, scratching himself, blinking uncontrollably, clearly agitated.  “Mom, I can’t say that . . . to a girl!”


Gavin could barely form the words. He finally sputtered,  “I can’t say that a girl is awesome.”

They talked about it, and Gavin made it clear that any expression of affection, admiration, or even grudging respect would be unacceptable. So Lisa, no dummy, surrendered to our fifth-grade boy’s abject terror. She instead bought  a holiday bag of mini Kit-Kat bars with the words “TO” and “FROM” printed on each individual bar. Gavin had only to fill out the names — which was about as much emotion as he was willing to expend.

At CVS, Lisa ran into another mother of a fifth-grade boy. She was on the same errand, dealing with a similar revolt. Looks like a lot of kids will be getting Kit Kat bars in school today. The next few years should be interesting.