Chapter Seventeen II

Some moms do guilt trips, some have endless advice.
Our moms are happy if we just show up. That’s the best kind of mom.
                                                         Daphne Sylk

Susan jumps up and squeals, “Our babies are home! Kara! Chris! Our babies are home!”
I grin, “Glad to see you too, Sis.”
We hug for a long time, I step back to look at her, “You’re always the most beautiful thing in Manhattan.”
Chris appears, “Janah, you’re losing weight baby, what the hell is up with that? Daphne, you’re letting Janah get skinny.”
Kara comes in, looking around, trying to take in that we are actually there, “My babies, look at you, you’re both rails. What have they been doing to you? Chris, they’re both rails.”
Chris, “Here let me take your stuff, sit and I’ll get you fed. God Daphne, have you guys quit eating? Geez.”
“Everyone sit down for a minute, we’ll have tea later, just sit and settle down. Sheesh, it’s like nursery school in here.”
The moms sit around the big table.
“We’ve been pretty intense for the last year I know it’s a little shocking since you haven’t seen us. Weekend visits had to stop because of Janah’s work. It’s just part of it. It’s not easy, it’s busy, full, long days. I monitor Janah, she monitors me. Yes we’ve lost some weight, that will correct itself.”
Susan, “What’s she been doing that takes so much time?”
“Temple business has to stay in the temple. In short, she is advancing her qi training, that’s all we can say guys, sorry.”
Chris, “If you say this is controlled, that everyone knows what’s happening, then fine. I just didn’t want to hear this crept up on you and that your home because of it.”
Kara, “Janah, you’re okay?”
Janah, “Yes mom. It’s like Daphne said, I’ve been tied up for long hours. Next time you see me, I’ll be a roly poly little chunk.”
Chris huffs, “I’ll wait a long time to see that. We’ll be happy to see your old self, the stripped down Janah isn’t the same. You look ripped.”
“We can start adjusting right now if C-mom will call Marconi’s, Janah’s been craving one of those veggie extravaganzas. Tell them she’s home  and they’ll know what to do. Lasagna for me, Italian salad, you know, the works.”
Chris, “Now we’re talking.” She calls down and gives them 20 minutes, then heads out to pick up the food with Kara.
James is home, before dinner, asks the us to visit in his office.
James, “I presume you guys have the weight thing under control, I don’t need a recap, I’m sure the moms have elicited the appropriate promises.”
“There’s a reason, a good one, and it’s about over.”
“Okay, so there’s nothing for the doctor to treat?”
Janah, “No.”
“You must be home for a reason, not just to gain weight.”
“Daphne’s going to test for her 5th degree, at the temple. We came home to share the news. Daphne will do some refreshing with Chris for a couple of days. Master Sung saw we needed time off and that it would be good to work out details directly with Master Kim.”
James beams, “Well congratulations, Daphne. You haven’t told the moms yet, that would have been the first thing Susan said when I came in.”
“We wanted you to be there when we told them.”
“All I wanted is to give you guys a chance to talk. If there was anything going on you didn’t want to get into with the moms yet.”
Janah, “I’ve been working on some advanced Qi with one of the masters. It’s extremely intense. Two years later, it’s still mentally painful and exhausting at times. You wouldn’t have wanted to see me six months after I started. I don’t want to go into it with the moms. I’m telling you under therapist confidentiality. Daphne pulled me out when she saw I’d exceeded my limits. My brain was so fried I didn’t recognize my own symptoms. She nursed me and it’s over now. The weight is hard to put back on because we eat lightly anyway. I actually feel really good with a few less pounds. My experience is not unique, this kind of mental training is always excruciating according to Master Sung. Daphne and I went through pretty rough times learning mentaling.”
James, “Psychologically, where are you?”
Janah, “Thanks to Daphne, fine. Others who have been introduced to this didn’t have what we have. I have a separate brain that can actually look into mine. She nursed me physically and mentally. We do a careful check after each session.”
James, “I’m glad you told me. I think the moms could handle the story. I also understand why you can’t tell them. Give them what you can and keep your promises to the Shaolin. It’s been a long time since you’ve seen them, let’s go give them a cause for celebration rather than concern.”
 We settle around the big table with the rest of the group, passing around plates, the food smells wonderful. We don't do Italian at the temple, something I am going to change once I free up the time..
Janah, “We’d like to extend an invitation to all of you to attend an event to be held at the temple. Dates are still being arranged, it will likely be a Saturday afternoon.”
Susan, “Oh goody, what’s happening?”
Janah, “Nothing earth shattering, just Daphne’s 5th degree rank test.”
Chris makes a noise something between a yee-hah and a whoop. Whatever it is, it is definitely enthusiastic. Susan grabs me in a combination hug and dance. Kara applauds while Chris hops around, then sweeps up Janah, kissing her cheeks.
Janah, “I see the news is being received favorably.”
Susan, “Our baby is going to be Master Sylk. My god, Master J and Master S. Honey, I’m so proud of you. Oh, this is too good. We have to tell the Epsteins, and Lacy, then I’ve got to go see Chuck and Mini.”
“Maybe you should just buy a billboard on Times Square.”
Chris, “Don’t give her ideas.”
Susan, “Can you announce this sort of thing in the paper?”
Five voices “No” in unison.
“Don’t get carried away, I haven’t actually passed yet.”
Chris, “Do you want to do a few things, review anything?”
“That’s why we’re here. I need you to go over everything for the next two days. We’ll take more time off around the holidays, I promise. It won’t be just phone calls for two years. If you’ll help me, we can go to the dojang. Janah, Sis and K-mom can visit Lacy.”
Chris can’t suppress her delight. The very best thing for a master is to help create another one, this one her own daughter. She begins to cry, overwhelmed by her feelings for the mother and daughter she lives for.
Susan, “You’re so bad, you’re going to get me going now.”
Janah, "Can you hang on? I'm hungry.”
We have an hour and a half dinner-a-thon, then Kara moves everyone to the living room, gets a drink for herself and James, pours more wine for Sis and Chris, then joins them on the sofa. I sit on the floor against Janah’s chair. 
“Tomorrow we’ll have a real breakfast and whenever C-mom is ready, hi ho, hi ho, off to work we go. I’ll call Master Kim and get the time and details arranged. Master Sung was kind enough to let us tell him when would be best. I’m thinking late September.”
Chris, “Sis will test right after you I’m sure. He’ll be telling everyone about the family of three 5th degrees he’s trained, I guarantee you there’ll be a picture in the lobby.”
“Curly, Larry and Moe.”
Susan, “We don’t have anyone with curly hair.”
“Curly was Curly because he was bald, I could shave my head again.”
Janah, “Forget it, Curly.”
Chris, “Doesn’t sound like you need to sharpen the scissors.”
Janah, “Wait, I’m having a flashback. Remember that routine where the Stooges are in a room, the phone rings and Curly picks it up? He says, ‘Hello,’ then, ‘You don’t say....you don’t say?....you don’t say!!,’ and hangs up. Moe asks, ‘Well, what did he want?’  Curly replies, ‘He didn’t say.’”
Janah starts giggling at her own story. Her laughter gets everyone else going.
I see my opportunity, “I’m going to be a 5th degree.”
The family replies collectively, “You don’t say?!!”
When we settle down from our goofiness, James asks, “You said Daphne was monitoring you mentally through the qi training. I know you can’t discuss the training itself, but how does the monitoring work? Does it feel like anything, or just something you know is going on?”
Janah, “It tickles, imagine a spider checking it’s web, roaming over all the strands, stopping, examining, checking for any weakness, any loose connection. That’s Daphne in my head.”
James, “So no stray strands?’
I say, “Lots of stray strands, they’re there all the time. She builds new neural connections like embryo cells multiply. I have to go see what the latest structure is about, check the wiring, tap it with a hammer. It takes about half an hour. Fortunately, most of her brain is tied up thinking about me, so I can glide past that part.”
Susan, “Because that’s the shallow end of the pool?”
“Very funny, Moe”
That gives Janah major giggles, which starts me, then the family again.
Kara, “What is the point to the skill? I mean, it doesn’t sound like you use it much, other than practice.”
Janah, “That’s a good question. Their reason isn’t about self importance, going higher or deeper or any spirituality jargon. Some things the world isn’t ready for, kind of like nuclear weapons. We keep them under control, sometimes it seems like just barely. An enormous amount of energy and cash is used up just in the effort to prevent the spread. It would be nice to have nuclear energy without nuclear weapons, unfortunately that’s not how it happened. This level of qi is like that. The healing part is great, it’s the destructive potential that’s the problem. Simply put, they don’t want to lose knowledge of the skill. They’re concerned that the less noble use of it creates a kind of qi arms race with the consequent problems.”
Kara, “In other words the world isn’t mature enough for it. One day, if the nuclear thing doesn’t kill us first, maybe our children’s, children’s children can begin to channel qi as an everyday matter.”
Janah, “Yes. Young girls are capable of making babies, it doesn’t mean they should. In our culture, they lack the necessary emotional maturity. Adults lack the maturity to handle nuclear energy, thus nuclear weapons. If adults made mature, rational decisions, nuclear weapons wouldn’t exist and everyone in the world would have cheap electricity. What would it be like not to have people starving because clean water can be inexpensively pumped anyplace it’s needed? Where people didn’t regularly die in the heat or cold? We don’t handle much of anything like an advanced civilization, we handle it like adolescents strutting and posing.”
Chris, “Who decides when people are ready?”
James, “It’s not so much that the Shaolin ultimately decide anything. It will simply be evident. It’s clear now isn’t the time, it will be clear when it is. It’s not like they keep this bottled up because the market value goes up, they’re not profiting from it.”
Janah, “No, the profit is in free and appropriate use. Every kind of knowledge or skill is a two edged sword. That’s life. Right now, any level of qi is difficult to learn, and results vary widely from student to student. The masters are only cautiously willing to train the out on the edge stuff. The problem is there are few masters left who can do it at all.”
Chris, “So one day, if things go well, you’ll teach someone who will teach someone?”
Janah, “Yes. Daphne gets some of it, for obvious reasons. Right now we’re deliberately not sharing the skill as easily as we could because of the monitoring problem.”
Kara, “Speaking of maturity, that’s a very mature, patient decision. Doesn’t she have curiosity to know?”
Janah, “Daphne does what’s best, not what’s convenient or self gratifying.”

Chapter Eighteen II

Take us:
we were never children
like your children
We do not understand love songs
like your inamorata.
poem for personnel managers
The Pleasures of the Damned, Charles Bukowski

The family is gathered around the table recounting the day, there are cocktails and wine, I made simple snacks, nuts and cheese, toasted rounds, a spinach artichoke dip from the deli I warmed to get nice and gooey.
Chris, “Daphne’s going to be in overkill mode for her test. Tomorrow, I think we can review a few forms in the morning right here, then I suggest we do something more interesting, like an elaborate lunch. Where does everyone want to go?”
Kara, “Wonderful, what about Zack’s?”
Susan, “Oh goody, I like that place, I hope they have that fish thing again, piles of fresh crabmeat and that brown tangy sauce, Muniere. Daphne, they have the most wonderful dark chocolate soufflé.”
Janah asks Chris, “Rumor has it you’re on a new book. Can you reveal any details?”
Chris, “You’ve been gossiping with Lacy. Actually, my daughter gave me the idea.”
“It’s about a stunningly beautiful Shaolin monk?”
Susan, “With an incredibly talented and caring mother.”
“True. Something tells me it’s not about us though.”
Chris, “You remember Mr. Victor the gay private eye?”
“Sure, my long ago movie plot.”
Chris, “Well, this time the hero is a gay martial artist, a guy.”
“Get down and out of town! That’s so cool. Let me guess, he’s investigating a murder in a salon. Someone is killing the customers with poisonous hair color. He uses his martial arts skills to ferret out a crime family that’s smuggling knock off hair dye. Blonds come out pumpkin orange, highlights actually dissolve all the hair except the split ends. Fifth Avenue ingénues have to skip wintering in Santa Lucia because they look like Vin Diesel. The country goes on red alert when Pink turns yellow. What else?”
Chris, “You’ve been reading my draft.”
Susan, “It’s not about any of that.”
Chris, “Well, she might be on to something, maybe I can work it in. It’s time for a gay man to be something besides an interior decorator that talks like Truman Capote. All my stuff is about martial arts, I’m comfortable there. The uncomfortable is character development. That and a plot that makes sense, at least action novel sense. One of the things I learned a long time ago is keeping things straight, orderly, time sequenced, is harder than it looks. I write something I like, then find it doesn’t fit in the place I have it. Or it involves creating another character. Then I have to decide how much to develop that character, or can she just be sort of tangential. I don’t have to invent an entire personality. Editors, really good ones, get my undying admiration. Sis is constantly finding stuff that is out of sequence, character’s the wrong age, black skirt on one page is blue on another. She’s the primary reason the books make any sense at all.”
“I like your books, they’re very high on action and sex. Plus, Janah reads them to me, so I can sit and focus on her. She likes her feet massaged while she reads. Once she read me an entire volume of Bukowski poetry.”
Janah, “It felt too good to quit.”
Kara, “Good thing it wasn’t War and Peace.”
James comes in from work, “How’s the family, Daphne getting everything done?”
“Everyone’s focused on me, this rank test thing is working out great.”
James, “I take it you’re satisfied. Otherwise, you’d still be at the dojang with Chris.”
Chris, “She could take it last year. Despite some weight loss, she’s in splendid shape. She did all her forms then I chased her around the dojang for nearly an hour with two short breaks. I stayed after her too. We were both drenched. I guarantee she’s fighting ready.”
James, “Daphne has been fighting ready since I’ve known her.”
Chris, “True. She is what she is.”
“We’re trying to get Chris to spill a few details about the next book. Janah needs a foot massage.”
James, “Is that what you do while she reads to you?’
Susan, “You’re a freak, there’s no way to put that together. I wonder what normal people talk about?’
“Boring stuff, who’s going to win American Idol, or, worse, what’s new on Gossip Girl, or even the total absolute worst, politics.”
Janah, “Good thing you didn’t go to a school like the television ones. You’d have killed off all the characters by now.”
“It would be my contribution to society. So C-mom, a little about the plot.”
Chris, “Like I said, the main character is a gay man. I’m making him a judo guy. I’ve written two with taekwondo people, time to think about something else. He’s also got grappling skills, ultimate fighting stuff. Those guys are so good, and junkyard dog tough. They also understand joint manipulation. No standard martial artist can deal with that in a ring with rules. The grappler has too much of an advantage.”
Kara, “What do you mean?”
Chris, “Well, in an organized contest, you can’t kick or punch genitals, gouge eyes, do throat strikes. All things you might resort to in a serious street confrontation. If Daphne, with her speed, can get to a guy’s eye, or crush his throat or privates, he can be the best grappler in the world, the fight’s over before the first grapple. If she has to fight him in a ring with rules, she’s at a virtually insurmountable disadvantage.”
Janah, “What’s for dinner?’
Kara, “Somebody didn’t take long to recover an appetite.”
Janah, “We don’t get evening food at the Temple. They frown on leaving the monastery to go to the deli. I have three nights to enjoy an evening meal, then back on the program. This time, I’m not skipping lunch.”
“See I told she was enlightened, by me most likely.”
Susan, “If the Dali Daphne is done taking credit for everything, perhaps we can decide on a dinner plan.”
They think for a minute, then at the same moment, the moms say, “Chinese!” A quick burst of list making then order from Empire Szechuan. Nothing better in our neighborhood shy of going to Chinatown, and they deliver.
Kara opens a bottle of chilled Graves, dry white from the central Graves region in France, the group relaxes into conversation about Susan’s current projects and an update on the Epsteins.
An hour later there are mostly empty boxes of Chinese food and egg roll wrappers strewn across the table. Janah is contentedly digging out the last of the vegetables from one box and mixing them with brown rice in another.
“You have no idea how good it feels to see you chowing down again.”
Janah, “Sure I do. I know everything you feel and I appreciate the thought. I’m such a little piggy. That stuff was exactly the right idea, like a festival at the temple.”
Susan, “You know it didn’t cross my mind that Chinese food is what you eat all the time.”
“Daphne’s introduced Italian, American and a bit of Indian. We have veg lasagna, chunky tomato spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, veg stuffed baked potato, daal. Daphne uses so many things to flavor up the vegetables, lots of times I eat them raw. My first favorite is Daphne café anything. After that, it’s a dead heat for Mini’s all American, Chinese or  Italian. Of course there’s Chef Villaume’s French, then Marty’s cart across from the Diner, Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Cuban and Thai.”
Susan, “Is there any food you don’t like?”
Janah giggles, “Well, I don’t eat meat, so I haven’t tried everything. I’d probably like it, it smells good when Daphne cooks it. Just not on my list.”
I pull Janah up and say goodnight to the family. I want her to get lots of sleep, she isn’t objecting. I fire up one of the sex toys Sis had obligingly put on our nightstand, Janah squirms orgasmically. After she falls asleep, I use it on myself with an equally blissful result, then curl up next to my other, oblivious for the next ten hours.

Chapter Nineteen II

I like that Janah knows my entire being, inner and outer.
I particularly like it when she plays with the outer.
                                                         Daphne

The next morning, Chris and I breakfast with Susan, then review forms at the condo. Afterwards, I make Janah a snack and we began serious piddling around until time to get ready for lunch. Piddling includes a manicure light and a pedicure for Janah; one for me. I make Janah’s toes beautiful with clear polish, can’t have a monk with red toes I decide. We’re in street clothes, Janah in open toe stacked heels and one of Susan ankle length clingy dresses. I can’t resist a miniskirt. A proper monk shouldn’t show off, but somebody has to show what an improper monk looks like. I volunteer.
Chris, “You guys are so beautiful. Everybody’s got hair. I think Janah’s might even be whiter. I guess not, I don’t know how it could have been whiter than before.”
“I’m going to grow out completely. Bald head and a robe don’t make you a monk.”
Chris, “Yay. You were made for long hair."
“That’s it unless Master J wants something else. If she cares about hair at all, I can’t tell.”
Susan, “You see in her head, of course you can tell.”
“That’s what I mean. She has zero opinion, she’s focused elsewhere.”
Susan, “You’re bad.”
“I didn’t mean that way, let me put it this way, I know where she’s focused and it isn’t my hair, or sex. It’s actually not. She likes nice legs, that doesn’t make her any different than most women. That’s as close as she gets to obsession. She’s pretty basic, there’s no magical mystery. Her mind is mostly elsewhere anyway, I like to say it’s on me, but it isn’t.”
“She doesn’t act that way.”
“No, and we do think about and with each other a lot. It’s mostly not in some heartthrob romantic drama kind of way. We do get romantic and heart-throbby, I’m simply saying it’s not our normal mode. Ninety five percent of the time, we’re doing what we do. The five percent is great fun, but it’s hardly all day.”
Susan, “I don’t know whether I’m happy or sad.”
“It’s not a happy or sad thing. We got stuff to do. Believe me, we aren’t missing out, we do our thing. Janah takes exceptionally good care of my needs, which conform remarkably with her needs.”
“And you Janah, where are you in this? I mean the subject just sort of came up, I hope I’m not being stupidly nosy.”
“Think about what five percent means. There are 24 hours in a day, Daphne and I have some sort of real intimacy, not always sex, one or two hours every day. That doesn’t count me sleeping on her tummy or wrapped up by endless arms and legs. Because of what we are, it’s intense intimacy. No secrets, no hidden persona. Deep, even unconscious, personal contact. Nobody in any universe is closer than we are.”
Susan, “I hadn’t thought of it like that. Compared to you two, the rest of us hardly communicate at all.”
Janah, “Which is why we grieve that so many people don’t have real relationship. We know what it’s like. To be with the other person, not wanting from them. Not needy, no jealousy or hurt feelings, no miscommunication, no misguided good or bad intention. We have it because we have no guard up, none can be up. People don’t get how great it is not to have to explain or justify anything, any thought, any emotion, any action. We don’t, and nobody else has to either. You don’t need to read each other’s mind to want someone just the way they are. If there is such a thing as love, it is to take people the way they are. Anything else is just an image. Sorry, I’m soap boxing.”
Chris, “No you’re not, that isn’t it at all. It’s living truth, understanding. You have no idea how many times Sis and I stop either individually or together and ask ourselves how would the girls handle this? We instantly lose all the I want, I should, you should blah, blah and get on with our day. I don’t mean to turn it into what would Janah do, it’s not like that. We learned to stop, take a breath and assess what is versus what we think we ought to be. What’s that guy on The Colbert Report call it?”
Susan laughs, “Truthiness.”
Kara, “I have a question about the monks, have they figured out you two yet?”
Janah, “I think we inadvertently give them clues. Daphne gets on our private ethernet with a line or two from time to time. I’ll be working away with Master Hue in the garden and giggling to myself.”
Kara, “Does he notice?”
Janah, “They notice everything. At first, he would ask me if the plant told me a joke. Then out of the blue one day he said, ‘student Sylk has good sense of humor, like qi masters.’ I had zero idea how he knew.”
Susan, “He sounds like James. What did you do?”
“I asked him which plant told my secret.”
Chris, “What does that mean?”
“The plants talk to him. He says they hear everything from the birds and insects.”
Chris, “He’s pulling your leg.”
 Janah, “Except he almost never leaves the garden. Despite that, he knows all about what’s going on in the world, not just the monastery. He seldom converses with anyone, no talking at meals. If it isn’t the plants then he’s got a secret internet connection someplace. I’ve decided to listen to the plants myself.”
Chris, “You guys get weirder every day.”
Janah, “I’m the normal one, it’s my other that’s strange.”
“Me? I don’t have time to swap lies with the petunias. I’m busy steaming in the heat, getting beat up by a bunch of pacifist Buddhists. All the plants would tell me is that I need a shower.”
I smile and stare at nothing, “When Ange Blanc comes in from the garden she has somehow absorbed the scents. She’s all lavender, jasmine, sage and mint, a dozen other things. She makes me hungry at night.”
Everyone laughs, Chris says, “She did that anyway.”
“Well, that too, you know what I mean. It’s like living in a candle shop in our room, she’s delicious.”
Chris, “You have a one track mind.”
I blush, “I’m inadvertently doubling my entendres. Well, it’s all true, anyway you’d like to take it.”
Kara, “That’s a lovely compliment to you.”
Janah, “It’s so much fun there, I really don’t feel like I’m working. I’m laughing half the time I’m with the qi masters. Master Hue and I boil, chop, get our hands full of dirt. I have to go to our room before evening meditation to let Daphne wipe the smudges off my face and brush stems out my hair. I look like jungle woman.”
“Everyone wants to sit next to her at meditation, she’s potpourri for the hall. The boys commandeer the prime spots, Janah’s posse.”
Janah, “Often after meditation we go and sit by the pond and listen to the night. Daphne talks quietly with Black, just a murmur against the sound of the water across the rocks. The boys staring up at the night sky. David might ask a question or two, he’s very curious. Chan silent, always silent.”
Chris, “Man, will they take moms?”
“You would have been a good Shaolin C-mom, just the type. You have all of us to take care of. So your role is much more important than sitting around a monastery. We only get to do it because of our moms.”
Lunch comes to a close in a scrumptious flurry of chocolate. Crusty top, molten middle of dense dark chocolate topped with crème fraiche.

Chapter Twenty II

The idea of synchronicity is that the conceptual relationship of minds,
defined as the relationship between ideas, is intricately structured in its own logical way and gives rise to relationships that are not causal in nature.
These relationships can manifest themselves as simultaneous occurrences that are meaningfully related.
Synchronistic events reveal an underlying pattern, a conceptual framework that encompasses, but is larger than, any of the systems that display the synchronicity.
The suggestion of a larger framework is essential to satisfy the definition of synchronicity as originally developed by Carl Gustav Jung.
Wikipedia

“We don’t get to play Scrabble at the temple, can I interest anyone?” I flop a leg over Janah’s knee. Janah does her thing, I tingle nicely.
Susan, “I’m in, you should know we’ve been playing with the schoolmarm, and Lacy’s good with words. I’ve expanded my vocabulary.”
Half an hour later the board is filling. Sis is trying to convince Janah that truthiness is spelled with a y not an i, Janah was having none of it. Someone had left truth open ended; Susan had the ness and a y but lacked an i.
Susan, “Look, truthiness isn’t a word really, so if I spell it with a y what’s the difference?”
Janah, “So, you want to use truthiness to win your point? On the program, it’s spelled with an i. Your point is that since the meaning of truthiness is crap anyway, using a y makes no difference, is that it?”
Susan, “I hadn’t thought of that. Yes, that’s my point exactly.”
Chris, “That sounds like more truthiness.”
Susan, “That’s the idea, truthiness, justicimy, americanity.”
Janah, “If you can explain the other two, I’ll allow truthiness with a y.”
Susan, “Simple, justicimy is when other people should face consequences, but you have a reason, so you should be absolved.”
Janah, “Sold, now the other.”
Susan, “Americanity is the idea America can and ought to solve all the world’s problems and that our solution is the best one, Americanity, American insanity.”
She gets a round of applause for her explanation and wins the truthiness argument. So if you play Scrabble with the moms, you can spell it truthyness and it will count, so will justicimy and americanity.
James comes home an hour or so earlier than normal, “I wanted to spend a little time with the girls, you’ve made no plans I hope?”
“Nope, we’re all yours, we’re about to wrap up this game. Sis is busy inventing words, truthiness, justicimy and americanity, all approved by Ange Blanc.”
James, “Truthiness I heard on the Colbert Report, the moms love those two programs. What’s the other one, Daily Show?”
“Yes. Want to guess what the others mean?’
James, “Let’s see, justicimy. Some form of justice, only justice I like.”
Janah, “Very good, the full definition is holding others accountable and excusing oneself. What about americanity?”
James, “That’s easy, there’s so many forms of American insanity. I presume it has to do with our attitude that everyone should be like us, crazed consumers.”
Janah, “Very close and enough to merit a big hug and kiss.”
Susan, “See, I told you the words were practically self evident, next year they’ll be in Webster’s, just wait.”
Chris, “Sis is becoming afflicted with Daphinity.”
Janah giggles, “Everything they say is divine wisdom?”
Chris, “Exactly.”
“Dad, please explain that a Shaolin monk rises above the slings and arrows of outrageous moms.”
James, “I can’t wait to discuss Daphinity with Dr. Epstein. We may break into new psychiatric territory thanks to Chris. We’ll be like the Starship Psychiatry, going where no mind has gone before.”
Susan, Scotty voice, “Keptin, I canna control the ship, we’re being sucked into the black hole of self absorption.” Captain Kirk voice, “What is it Mr. Spock?” Spock voice, “It appears to be the Daphinity singularity, a force so powerful it absorbs everything around it, constantly feeding it’s infinite need for attention.” Kirk, “Suggestions Spock, there’s not much time.” Spock, “Fortunately Captain, the only known force powerful enough to neutralize Daphinity is nearby, she is called Master J. If we beam her up now, we just might have a chance.”
I’m laughing wiping tears from my eyes, Janah the usual bundle of soft giggles, the rest of the family applauding Susan’s spur of the moment dramatics.
“You’ve been practicing.”
Susan, “You haven’t been here on Sundays to make fun of the news programs with Chris. I’ve been filling in.”
Kara, “It gets totally out of control here some Sundays. James says he can still hear schoolgirl screeching in his soundproofed office. When we’ve loaded up on Mimosas, the observations can get pretty, uh, risqué.”
“Well, I’m 18 and all, the kid is too young for that sort of nastiness. Sis can tell me all about it tomorrow morning while Janah’s sleeping.”
James, “If we’re back to whatever normal is around here, did you finalize plans?”
“Yes, we’re shooting for the last Saturday in September. I wonder, since I’m the show, shouldn’t I get…what…a dressing room and bottled glacier water blessed by the Dalai Lama, only red almond M&Ms, fresh cut lilies of the fields flown in from France, a sub miniature petit dwarf dog the size of a field mouse? You know, diva junk?”
Janah, “I’ll get right on it, Mariah.”
I decide on a subject change, “So dad, what’s going on in the shop? How’s Dr. E? I’m calling Mrs. E myself tomorrow to make sure she’s at the test and to apologize for not seeing them on this visit.”
James, “She’ll be delighted to hear from you. There is one matter, Janah. If you can come by the hospital tomorrow, we’d like your input.”
Janah, “Early, midday?”
James, “Can you and Daphne come with me first thing?”
Janah, “Yes, if Susan will let Daphne skip the fun stories until the next visit.”
Susan, “This is important or James wouldn’t have asked. We have plenty of time to tell silly stories. Do what needs doing.”
Janah, “7:30?”
James, “That’ll be fine.”
Janah, “Then let’s get fed, then I get my honey to our big bed.”
Susan has a supply of things from the deli, fresh bread, pickles, olives, cheeses, pastrami, salami and tender smoked ham. She’d gotten Janah a tray of raw vegetables, four cheese macaroni and a fruit compote for dessert. And a variety of chips, salsa, tortilla strips and fresh guacamole, one of Janah’s favorites. She’s in food heaven. The parents have a cocktail, then open wine and do serious damage to the spread. No serious discussion allowed. The television runs in both the living room, which is actually part of the dining area, and kitchen. Some crime drama, nobody cares, it’s background noise. We manage to take two hours to eat dinner.
Chris, “You two disappear and don’t show up until breakfast. It’ll be ready early, 6:30, I’d like to see one more good chow down before you go, so indulge me please. Sis and I will take care of cleaning up, then we’re watching the late news and evaporating ourselves.”
Janah, “I’ll be ready, can I have an omelet with the leftover vegetables chopped up in it?”
Susan, “She’s recovered.”
“I’ll be here, do you want me early, I can help.”
Chris, Susan and Kara, “NO!”
After kisses and hugs all around we slip off to their room. Janah warms me up in the shower, then we pile into bed. She covers me with soft kisses, “I’m sensing a request for a specific kind of physical attention.”
Janah, “You’re so good at it.”
She faces away from me and gets on her knees, resting her head on a pillow, “Slowly lick part A, when I’ve had enough, I’ll turn over and you can lick part P. After my head explodes, you can strap me up in that toy you like so much, and I’ll do you until either you or the toy melts.”

‘Life is easy,’ I think, ‘just follow the simple directions.’

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