Single? You're lucky
She is sitting at the kitchen table chopping imitation crab meat with a butter knife. We are preparing for a party that I forgot I was throwing until yesterday. She is eight and exhausting at every turn. I know my mother must have said the same about me. She is a miniature version of myself-my own personal mini-me.
"Mom? Mom? Mom?" she begins, "Is this real crab?"
"No it isn't. It's made from fish."
"But then it's not crab at all because a crab isn't a fish."
"Well…does it matter? It probably is a fish because it lives in the water."
"A submarine goes in the water and that isn't a fish at all."
I sigh, I have been cooking and cleaning all day and I am too tired for this conversation. I am too tired for incessant babbling to cloud my brain. "Okay, Kate you are right." Anything to stop the noise.
"Mom? Would you ever want to meet a mermaid?"
"I don't know. They aren't real."
"But if they were? If you could…would you want to meet one?"
"But Is Santa at least real?"
"I think so…"
"Well if no one has ever seen him how do they know he isn't a girl?"
"Kate, everyone says he is a man. All the pictures show him as a man. All the stories told…"
"Well so what? No one has ever seen him. I think he is probably a girl because girls are nicer anyway and we like to give presents."
I blow my hair off of my forehead. My back aches in the lower region as I peel potatoes.
"But why do we have to give valentines to the people we don't like in school? I mean Jared is so mean to me and I don't think I should have to give him a valentine when he is so mean."
"Well you have to be nice to everyone at school."
"My teacher next year is going to be teaching first graders. Do you think she will like that better than teaching second grade?"
"I really don't know."
"She'll probably let them watch movies like she did us. Hey can we go see Shark Boy and Lava Girl?"
"Not right now."
"Mom? Mom? Mom?" she shouts, "If you were deaf, you know, the guy in the black outfit…"
"You mean death? The Grim Reaper?"
"Yeah, if you were him and you were at the movies and the people wouldn't shut up behind you would you kill them?"
Now I turn around and stare at her. "Kate you can't just kill people for talking in a movie theater…"
"But Mom, I mean you are Death! Death kills people all the time. Why can't he just kill people who annoy him?"
I sit down at the table with her and chop celery for the crab salad. I am starting to enjoy myself here as I watch and hear how her little mind works-very similar to mine. "I guess he could."
"Well would you Mom?"
"I doubt it."
"What about aliens?"
"What about them?"
"Well are they really out there."
I am laughing inside and trying to hide the grin stealing across my face. "I have no idea."
"Do you think they abduct people?"
I am wondering how she even knows that word. "I don't know at all if they do or not."
"I wonder what kind of people they abduct."
"I have no idea."
"I sure wish they would take Jared."
I laugh out loud and tell her that isn't nice.
"So what, you're not nice all the time. You know I am still mad at you for killing my fish."
"I'm sorry about that…I told you that was an accident…"
"Well you didn't even let me flush him and that would have been cool."
"Mom? How come you don't use real crab?"
"Because this is cheaper."
"I don't even like fish."
"You don't have to eat it."
"But what if the fish they used to make this was really a mermaid? How can you just go around eating mermaids? How do they know if it's a mermaid or a tuna fish or what? Mom? Mom?"
"You know what Kate?"
"I would love to eat a mermaid."
Now she is excited. "Really?"
"Yep. I want to meet one. I think Santa is a boy. I think if I could be Death I would kill everyone who cut me off while I was driving the death mobile. I really do think there are aliens and I hope they do abduct Jared. And next year for Valentine's Day, I think you should give him the ugliest one in the box if the aliens haven't taken him by then."
"You know you're kinda strange don't you?"
And Katie my dear, you are my replica in every way. Hey Mom and Dad? Sorry for all those questions, especially when I asked what testicles were at the dinner table.
Monika M. Basile