Sunday, March 22, 2009

Courier Sauce

I don't understand my son.

I love him dearly, but I don't understand him. Miles will be 8 in a couple of weeks, and for the last few months he has become increasingly obsessed with Pokemon. It all started innocently enough. A few trading cards at school. Then a growing collection of Pokemon cards at home, with which he would have epic "Pokemon battles" with his younger brother Isaac, who was too little to fully comprehend why he would always get whooped in these strange bouts of ritualized childhood combat. Don't kids play marbles anymore? Then came Christmas, and Santa, in his infinite wisdom, decided to bestow upon the boys a pair of Nintendo DS handheld gaming systems. Miles, much to his delight, received a deluxe Pokemon game cartridge to go with it. I believe that psychotherapists refer to this behaviour as "enabling".

Both Laurel and I could really give a rat's patooty about Pokemon. If you had asked me last year what a Pokemon was, I would have been certain that you were referring to a Jamaican proctologist. Now it's different. Our son bursts into our room several times a day like a hurricane to announce that "My Dialga has just evolved into a Frenobulax!!!!", or some other equally incomprehensible phrase that obviously brings great joy to him, but leaves us wondering about each other's contribution to his DNA. Is this boy the brilliant product of years of evolution, or was our offspring scraped from the mold growing in the shallow end of the gene pool?

Mind you, his achievements in the domain of Pokemon are actually quite impressive. He has methodically created a stunningly detailed mental map of every Pokemon character, and there are dozens, if not hundreds of the little bastards. He knows all their names, their origins, their habits and attributes, and the ability or inability of each one to evolve into other Pokemon types, along with the conditions that must exist to allow for such metamorphosis. In short, he has become a Pokemon bore of the highest order, in much the same way that he was a Harry Potter bore last year. Harry Potter was sooooooo last year.

So when asked what he wanted for his birthday this year, he didn't skip a beat. "Pokemon Ranger: Shadows Of Almia". He said this with a speed that seemed to indicate that he had been thinking of nothing else for months. Laurel and I looked at each other and rolled our eyes. But hey, I was 8 years old once, and my ability to endlessly obsess over a particular toy is more than merely dimly remembered. A glance inside my studio would reveal that it has actually been parlayed into something resembling a career. So out of solidarity, I set to work tracking down this elusive Pokemon game. Nobody on eBay in North America seems to want to ship games to Asia, so I created an account on eBay India, and went searching there. I found but one copy of the sacred game in Singapore, and lo and behold the vendor would ship to India. Actually, Laurel, the Queen of Google Search found it, but for the purposes of this narrative, let's pretend that I did everything. I then created an account with "PaisaPay", which is the Indian equivalent to "PayPal", clicked on the "Buy It Now" button, and hoped for the best.

I must say that I was deeply impressed. My inbox was soon inundated with messages from eBay. "Seller has received payment". "Seller has shipped item". "Here is your tracking number". "Expect delivery no later than...". and so on. I breathed a sigh of relief, secure in the knowledge that the purchase of the birthday present was handled and that my son's geek factor was about to increase exponentially. The delivery date came and went. I thought I'd give it one more day before complaining. Then two days. I had a bad feeling. Finally, I logged back onto my PaisaPay account and actually cancelled payment for the item, figuring that it had somehow crawled off to die in that special place inhabited only by single socks and election promises. PaisaPay says that if anything changes over the next 5 days, I should cancel the cancelling. Discouraged, and facing the prospect of having to find some other kind of present that would be nowhere near as appreciated ("A cheese straightener. Uh... thanks, Dad"), I did the only thing that any self respecting parent in my situation would do. I went to buy beer.

Returning from the beer store, where I have become such a good customer that my flower garlanded portrait now hangs on the wall of the shop between Nehru and Gandhi, I felt a stirring in my shorts. This time, it was not impure thoughts responsible for the stirring, but my mobile phone. I didn't recognize the number, but took a chance and took the call anyway. A distorted rapid-fire burst of machine-gun Malayalam greeted my ear, in much the same way as that old Far Side cartoon, What Dogs Really Hear ("Blah blah blah Ginger. Blah blah Ginger"). "Blah blah blah Robert Bailey blah blah blah DHL blah...". I had to stop the gentleman on the phone and confess my complete inability to understand Malayalam, with the exception of the words for "water", "thank-you", and "mother******". Thank you, Rajesh, for that last one. "English only, please", I said into the phone in that careful, slow and loud way seemed to indicate I had no business owning a phone in this country. "What is your location please?", the crackly voice asked. I then described my address on Ponoth Road, along with the nearest cross street. "Uh, uh uh...", came the response, which I recognized as being Malayalam shorthand for "Gotcha". The line went dead.

I continued home with my bag of beery goodness. I was nearly at the front door when a motorcycle pulled up to the intersection. The driver looked around, as if trying to get his bearings. I smiled in greeting as I walked past. His gaze narrowed. "What is your good name please sir?", he asked. I get asked this question several times a day. "Robert Bailey", I answered. His eyes lit up, and he reached into the satchel on the gas tank of his bike. "Package for you, sir". A little stunned, I signed for the package in the middle of the intersection, receiving a polite head wiggle at the conclusion of the transaction. He then sped off into traffic. Shaking my head in wonderment, I looked down at the package labelled "Top Most Urgent", and thought to myself, "Only in India...".

I still don't understand my son, but he's getting the Pokemon Ranger Shadows Of Almia...


Brenda Jefferson said...

When will I remember not to drink coffee while reading your blog? After swilling back a large mouthful I came to the Jamaican Proctologist comment! Now I have to figure out how to get coffee out of my laptop keyboard!!!

I love your sense of humour Rob, and read everything you and Laurel write - it's not only amusing it's educational too. My hat is off to you both for undertaking this endeavour and it sounds as if the boys will have some great memories to look back on too.

jcree said...

shits and giggles. That's what your blog is about.
Then again, it sounds like the former has not been as apparent as you originally thought it might, but you certainly have the latter down. You must consider 'writing' as a career if the Pole Dancing doesn't work out for you.

Damian said...

Great story Rob.

If it make you feel any better I have a friend at work whose son was similarly obsessed (perhaps even a little younger). He is now a teenager and quite the child prodigy.....or was it axe murderer ;-)


sumaira said...

jerk marinade is my favorite dish. Your recipe is good.