RL377 - The Stravinsky of Toilet Paper

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: John deserves unenjoyment, referring to him not fighting against the fact that people will disturb his sleep at 7am after he went to bed at 5am because he was raised with high expectations to the effect that he feels that whenever something is wrong it is probably his fault. The line itself comes from Mike Squires who said it to John when he found out that John had toiletpapered his and Josh Rosenfeld’s house.

The show title refers to John toiletpapering people’s houses and writing about the subject in his High School newspaper, spreading it all through the city of Anchorage.

The episode starts with the first 4 seconds of the song Warning by Yo Da Mayor.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

John going to bed at 5am (RL377)

John is a bit sleepy because he was up late last night watching a war film for the Friendly Fire podcast. Sometimes he leaves that to the last minute and then it is the middle of the night. Merlin sometimes cheats a little bit and tells himself he will just watch one more TV show, but then he will start watching a 3 hour movie. ”Time to go to bed” often means: ”Time for a quick bath” or: ”Time for a snack! Treat yourself!” Merlin had some leftover chicken wings and it was a good time for that in combination with an 1-hour interview with Stephen Sondheim.

For John all that is part of going to bed although it is the opposite of going to bed! He does call it ”bedtime” and a voice in his head does recognize it. He went to sleep at 5am, despite knowing that he had to record the show with Merlin in the morning, and he made himself a roast beef sandwich at bedtime, started to watch his Friendly Fire movie, and as soon as it was going to be over he was going to go right to sleep, but that is not what happened. Even though he was in bed he was looking at things on the Internet, doing what everybody keeps telling him not to do, which is using the bed for anything else than sleep or sex.

The first thing John experienced this morning was boots on the roof. Teviet (?) is up there, playing the violin. He searched his memory for some off-hand comment during the last two weeks to the effect of: ”Oh, by the way, the guys are coming to clean the something-something” Communication in the quarantine house is pretty good, but the home owner will hire people to come at times where John’s reaction is: ”What? Why would you schedule someone to do that on 7am on a Friday morning?”

John’s daughter having a video call with the girl across the street (RL377)

A few weeks ago John was trying to get his daughter to have a Zoom with the kid across the street and he logged into a computer with his information. The kid apparently does not need parental supervision to use computer devices, closer to a Coulton than a Hodgman. (John’s Alexa went off when somebody said the word ”computer” and described what an adjective is).

The next day after they had a Facetime or some kind of time, the next day starting at 7am the darling little girl across the street started to try to connect with John’s daughter via Facetime, but it was on John’s device because John’s daughter doesn’t have her own device, and in he style of a 9-year old she relentlessly tried to initiate a Facetime call 30 times in a row. This morning when John woke up he had 41 texts and apparently the darling children across the street do not have any limitations on their ability to make and send photographs, which John was the most worried about because children sending photographs to one another can be troubling later.

It is a slippery slope! There were a lot of photographs, some of them with filters, and a lot of GIFs. Merlin’s daughter is also deep into memes right now and a lot of TikToks. There was Pikachu, Stewie from Family Guy, a panda bear rolling down a hill, there was a cat saying ”I dance, I am a kitty cat!”. There is a cult amongst Merlin’s daughter and her friends around Carl Azuz, the guy who hosts the CNN 10 news show for kids, a lot of informality that can lead to some very serious things. John doesn’t want any of that!

John has explained to the darling children across the street that Marlo doesn’t have her own phone and that they are talking to John when they send this stuff, but it has not sunk in with them. Her slightly older brother is the one that used to come into the house and say ”Hey Siri, play Old Town Road!” in every room and John had to tell him that there was no room in the house where he could do that.

These kids haven’t been able to see each other and they are desperate to have contact with one another because they are right across the street from each other and the darling children across the street, their lovely parents are a little bit more like: ”Nah, let it ride! The kids can play together, what the hey!” Merlin is very fortunate with the darling child he has because she is very easy to deal with. She is not wild while there are some beloved darling children who are some combination of very free range, but especially some of the boys can be a little bit rambunctious and Merlin is glad he is with a less rambunctious child.

Coronavirus quarantine (RL377)

John was out for a constitutional and passed a young family in their late 30s with a 3-year old and a 6-month old on the street, and these days they will make a comically large curve around one another and John will always say: ”How is your quarantine going?” because he is his father’s son, but this guy gave John a death look, shaking his head side to side, like: ”No, my quarantine is not going good!” and the mom had a cheery face, like ”Haha, okay, ladida!” while he was not being funny. It was truly a cry for help and he was looking out into the world, looking that someone would get it, and John saw the whole future of this person’s life and that something in him was dead forever. Maybe he will stick it out and they live happily ever after, but he might have been right on the edge.

Merlin has been in the same house for decades, but it was never designed to be used like this. Say that The Long Winters came through time and maybe Chris is going to cut Michael’s hair in the kitchen and it is going to be hair all over the floor, but they will leave a couple of days later and you made some friends along the way, or Merlin’s friends go to Burning Man and then leave some dust in Merlin’s house that he will have to clean up, but they do leave, while the current quarantine situation is awkward and uncomfortable and so indeterminate. There is no sense that this is going to go the other way soon and the darling kid across the street might now send John 41 texts every morning between 7-8am.

Merlin is so tired of optimism because it is so dumb, about the drugs that don’t work, and about how soon everybody is going to be able to fly strongly, but please let’s be crazy pessimistic for at least one more month! That is the only way it is going to work. John is covered in Jesus’ blood, so he is fine to go out into the world. There was a lady who claimed that and said she was able to go to church.

John being raised with the believe that he was the problem if something was wrong (RL377)

John’s sister would scream ”I am trying to sleep!” and everybody would tell her ”You went to bed at 5am, what are we supposed to do?” John knows not to do that, because he deserves unenjoyment. He wasn’t raised in a household where people were yelling at you or putting their cigarettes out on you, but there were some high expectations of him when he was young that he couldn’t meet or didn’t meet, eventually stopped trying to meet, which left with him from young age the sense that if there was something wrong it was probably himself. If it weren’t for the fact that he hadn’t done his homework, everything would be fine.

When he started to have relationships with people, his early, mid-period, and later girlfriends were all very clear that the problem was him. There was no mincing of words or some combined responsibility, but if John hadn’t done that thing everything would have been fine and because he had come up believing he was the problem he accepted that diagnosis for the most part. It however did not inspire him to change, he just felt terrible and for a long time he labored without having analyzed this. It was all happening below surface level.

Only in recent years he was able to bring it to the surface and realize that he assumes he is the problem in almost any situation and that he gets taken advantage of, like for example when a contractor says that he was waiting for John to give them a SKU code he is thinking for himself: ”Fuck you did it again! You didn’t give them the SKU code, there it is!” and he doesn’t push back, not because if timidity, but because he goes into every situation, thinking that if anybody else has a problem and turns to John in anger, he goes: ”Yeah, I am sorry!”

He takes the blame because he never quite knew what he had done wrong in the first place and that feeling not knowing what the other person is talking about is very familiar. What is a SKU code? There was a homework assignment due tomorrow? I don’t remember!

John toiletpapering people’s houses, other pranks (RL377)

About 20 years ago John was going through a phase where he was toiletpapering all his friends’ houses. It was a fun time and nobody got hurt really. He was doing it in the middle of the night and wasn’t otherwise getting enough danger at the time, he had a steady girlfriend, it was early Long Winters days. One time was toiletpapering Josh Rosenfeld’s house, the owner of Barsuk records, and Mike Squires’ house. Today it would be an insane waste of this precious commodity, but back then they had all the toilet paper in the world.

John would throw rolls of toilet paper way up in the trees, and if you do it right it will bounce down through all the branches, creating a tail situation, unrolling as it flies, leaving a long streamer that is lightly blowing in the wind. If you throw between 5 and 15 rolls of toilet paper in a person’s yard and you do a thorough job, it is hilarious, sometimes for weeks, because there is no way to get that toilet paper out of there and it is going to be up there until it rains and turns into little blobs. Just talking about it makes John very happy.

One time he wrote a column in his High School newspaper The Zefir about toiletpapering and it kicked off a war of toiletpapering at his school that spread city-wide and for about six months in 1985 anywhere you drove in Anchorage there was frozen toilet paper in the highest trees, wafting in the breezes in the cold in the winter. It was the proudest John has ever been because he created a nightmare for every adult person for all of Anchorage Alaska. He made art that caused disruption, like he was the Stravinsky of toilet paper.

Of course other kids unleashed their wrath upon John and his house to the extend that his mom had PTSD for about 15 years. It could happen sometimes four times a night all across the city and John had made himself and his family a target. His mom even bought a flashlight that shot maze and and she would sit in the bushes all night long. One time some kids came and parked around the corner, got out and started running into her yard and as another car came and they all ran under the bush she was under.

One of them said: ”Guys, there is somebody else under here!”, it was all completely dark, ”Hey man! Hey buddy!” and reaches out to touch her and she turned on her 10.000 candle power maze flashlight right in their faces. She didn’t maze them, but that hurts your eyes and they went screaming around the corner and she was confident they would never come back. Some kids covered John’s car in sardines, there was a lot going on in 1985. There was a lot of forking of the lawn.

One time someone with a very big truck had gone along a road construction situation along a highway and had picked up enough flashing light sawhorse barricades and had filled John’s yard from edge to edge with sawhorses, placed as close to one another as they could be, and all flashing at random times. What is hilarious about it is: What are you supposed to do? How do you clean that up? Forking is easy to clean up and is a lot of work, buying a 500 count plastic fork container and sticking them into somebody’s yard in the grass and when they look out in the morning, they see forks sticking out like it is a wedding cake. That is too labor intensive and will take a while.

Egging is also terrible and sardines are super-fucked-up because they are very oily and you cannot get that oil off, especially in winter you can’t just get out there and wash your car, so that ended up to be one of the best pranks.

One time John had gone to his friend Kevin’s house and wanted him to go with him, toiletpapering, but his mom had made him stay home, but John was running out and was asking Kevin if he could borrow some, and Kevin came out with a jumbo-sized 20 rolls of toilet paper pack. This is great stuff!

This time 20 years ago it had been decades since John had done toiletpapering and it was just him at night, having fun, but the problem was that there is nothing better if you are terrible person like John, toiletpapering your friend’s house and you see them come home and you get to watch them out in a bush. That look of ”What?” and they have to come out and get it all down, cursing. John would then also come back night after night when they had taken it down. He was about 33-34 years old and so was his friend, and nobody expected this or had any context for it. They didn’t think what everybody in Anchorage thought at the time: ”Roderick!”

For two years after he had stopped doing it, other people would continue and he still got in trouble all the time. His mom hated him! He would argue he had a girlfriend now and was not doing it. What he did not realize was that Josh Rosenfeld, who had recently bought a house, was a gentrifier. They were the first white family to move into a black neighborhood that had been black since the 1950s. They bought the nicest house on the block and fixed it up, the classic gentrifier move. They believed that they were on good terms with all their neighbors. They were young, in their late 20s, but in Bellingham nobody had done any toiletpapering and they had no experience of it.

When John toiletpapered his house Josh thought he was being targeted by neighborhood toughs who were toiletpapering him to communicate ”Get out!”, but it was John doing it. Also neighborhood toughs would not use toilet paper for that, but they would stand on the sidewalk when you walk by, they are not shy and they are not ”Tihi!” about it! In Washington, people would just give you an icy stare when you said: ”Hi neighbor!” and that is plenty of ”Get out!” It is different from the Seattle Freeze, because that would not allow you to just stand there and stare at you aggressively.

What John didn’t realize was that Josh in his home was cowering, peering out through the blinds, terrified, and they didn’t realize that this was a dumb frat-boy prank. Colin Meloy one time called John a frat-boy, a long time after he had called John ”gosh”, when John tried to draw a penis on Chris Walla’s face after he passed out at a party, and all of the indie girls in their cardigan sweaters were going: ”No, don’t you dare!” - ”What? He passed out at a party! That is a dumb thing! He can’t get away with that!” and people were just horrified at it.

After Colin had said that John went into Colin’s bathroom, took all the toilet paper and toiletpapered his house. //(this is mentioned in RL13 and John told that story in RW122) to show him exactly what a frat boy John was.

John was toiletpapering Mike Squires’ house at the same time, who recognized it as a prank and was furious at it. One thing was that he had a lot of trees.

A long time later John was standing around at a party and Squires was making conversation, saying that he was getting toiletpapered every night for two weeks and Josh brightened up and went: ”You too? I was getting toiletpapered all the time…” and they both compared their nightmares. They both live very far from each other in Seattle and you could see the gears turning in their head while they were looking for the common denominator between them that they both would be toiletpapered all the same during the same period of the last two weeks.

They gradually turned and looked at John, who is pretty good at stone face, but he was absolutely having a peak moment, these were the times of his life, and hearing Josh telling Mike how traumatized he was and that Mike had been really agitated, too, took away some of the joy. John didn’t mean to create an environment of terror in the home, but he was just having some fun. Just being able to stand there for the 20-odd seconds for the two of them to both at the same time turn and put it all together that the only common denominator between them was John who was capable of this, John was so excited.

It dawned on them, they looked at John and John did a little tip with the champagne glass and then the spell was broken and John had to run. He ran out the door, jumped five steps off the porch, Mike right on John’s heels, Josh right on Mike’s heels, and they ran around the house several times, there were lots of people at this party, spilling their drinks while John was bobbing and reaving through the party: ”It was just a joke!” - ”I am going to murder you!”, and Mike is very strong and he is fast, although John was able to keep ahead of him.

Eventually they were all out of breath and the whole party all crowded around the window, wondering what it would look like when Squires would pummel John into the ground, and John said: ”Look, if it makes any difference: I didn’t enjoy it, but I felt a responsibility!”, it was like drawing a dick on Chris Walla’s face, it was something that needed to happen, John had felt obligated. At that point Squires said: ”You deserve unenjoyment!” and that was the greatest thing John had ever heard. It is a very good line!

This happened at Sean Nelson and came out of a conversation with Sean. This was before memes when they had to make their own memes. Squires would say: ”I should have knew!” [sic] He is a Marine and has a lot of good coinage. ”I deserve unenjoyment” became a thing that John took away and made his private thing. It was less a meme. John thinks about it all the time in reference to this feeling that if there are boots on the roof at 7am and he went to bed at 5am, who is he going to complain to, because he deserves unenjoyment! All the things John does in the world, even the things that aren’t directly related, create conditions in which John deserves unenjoyment, even if he didn’t do anything this particular time.

This story where they were talking about getting toiletpapered independently of one another and it took them 20 seconds to figure out it was John reminds Merlin of a scene in 8½ where Marcello Mastroianni is having a fantasy sequence where every woman in his life appears and they are all comparing notes on him while he is in a towel and a hat and he takes out a whip. Merlin’s nightmare scenario is what John is describing, but all the women he has disappointed, which certainly will include the exes, and they all realizing at the same time they were not the only one who had to deal with this. Getting called out after those 20 seconds is a world of dread for Merlin.

It would create a relief, the sweet release of death, to see the cumulative, logarithmic disappointment of so many people where he could have been a slightly better person and not just a homemade asshole, like: ”You think you are a nice guy? Let me bring up my first witness Sherry Edwards, the girl you kissed at the fire drill in second grade (also mentioned in RL259, where it was 3rd grade). She had a face like a pie and she liked Merlin and he liked her, but he could have handled it a lot better. He has a very undistinguished record with other people, especially women.

With those guys (Mike Squires and Josh Rosenfeld) John would stick matches in their toes, he would hot-box them, he would fart in an elevator and say: ”See you later!” because those guys deserve unenjoyment as much as John does. But disappointing the ladies in your life, in particular where it could have been a fork in the road where a better life was waiting… There were so many people who tried to help Merlin, all the teachers and men and women, and now his daughter is the same and doesn’t want to learn the key commands in Photoshop, although she would be so much faster. He could not be dissuaded from how he was and now at least he is aware that he sucks at it and it makes him very ashamed of how he behaved in the past.

Letting the girlfriend break up with you (RL377)

A classic move is being an asshole to your girlfriend until they broke up with you instead of breaking up yourself, that is something Merlin practically invented, and that is where he should get a cool hat and a bull whip.

One time John was living in a house only for a few months, right before he didn’t have a house anymore during the period where he lived for a while without any home before he stopped drinking in 1994. He had lady-friends at the time, but he had lost his job and was running out of money and he was living in a house with a girl he was seeing who had been the manager of the coffee shop where John always managed to be the boyfriend of the manager, even though the manager turned over frequently.

John was very charming and very attractive to management. It was during the time when there was a box of Total behind the counter because a prior manager who was John’s girlfriend had decided that he didn’t get enough nutrition and she had bought a box of Total and give him a bowl of cereal every time he came in. People have cared for him over the years! John loves Total still to this day!

John was living in this house with this gal and it was clear that he was not thriving, although he was giving the appearance of thriving even though the world was burning down around him. His whole life people thought he got the world by the tail while John was living in a van, but it sounds cool and fun. One time John was sitting in the house and reading a magazine when the door opened and John’s girlfriend came home together with his most recent ex-girlfriend prior who was very much an alpha, she was tall, lean, eyes the color of White Walker (character from Game of Thrones), but very short dyed-black hair. It was during the era when girls would wear very red lipstick. But the girl he was living with was smaller, although she also had bright red lipstick, and long red hair and she was not an alpha, but much more of a passive character.

They wanted to talk to John, who pretended to be confident but had zero confidence, and it turned out that they were both drunk and chose to come see John. They sat there in this room and because John assumed that he deserved unenjoyment he was waiting for them to attack him. His girlfriend started to do tumbling exercises, she was doing cart wheels in the house, while his ex stood there with a smirk on her face, saying: ”What are you going to do?” and John did nothing because he believed that this was some kind of attack and if he did something he was going to get attacked.

Eventually the were like: ”See ya!” and they left, and this encounter haunted him for 25 years! Who knows what they really had in store! The alpha girl did see through some of John’s confidence and she told him another time: ”You know, this whole world that you have constructed, you could actually pull it off if you were just 10% more on your game and had 10% more belief in yourself, but you can’t pull it off because when the chips are down in the moment you flinch and this whole world you have constructed where everybody is just waiting for you to move, it ends up being a complete fucking disaster!” - ”Why are you telling me this?” (crying).

At that point they spent a minute trying to come up with the word ”intervention”. The story John was telling was a little bit like an intervention because his emotional creditors were there, judy-tapping (?) the watch, like: ”What are we doing here? Here is what you did to me and here is what we are doing to you, Johnny!” Most of the time during an intervention one of the people is not doing tumbling exercises and typically the other people shouldn’t be drunk.

One of their room mates was a Wicca Witch and her boyfriend had big plates in his ears and they had very long dreadlocks, they were modern primitives, and she was very good at knitting and had knitted John, Kira, Ellen, all of them, and they were probably 16 inches tall and looked just like them and she had woven little bits of string that she had found from their clothes into the dolls. It wasn’t evil, but these were little beings that she had made out of love, dolls that had their spirits in them. It was the 1990s, a long time ago, and people don’t understand now! It was the 1970s 2.0, it made the 1960s look like the 1950s.

It was an old house that has since been torn down, like an Adams Family house, and it had a lot of built-ins that were full of research books on body piercing and stuff. John would put books up there about trains and people would be like: ”What is this? Why is this book about trains here in our shelf where we have books with photographs of people who have been hit by trains?”

John teaching his daughter how to ride a bicycle (RL377)

Two days ago John had a very significant event during quarantine. Five years ago he bought a bicycle for his little girl, a bicycle that looked like a contemporary Schwinn Stingray. Merlin did not have one of those, but he had a really busted-ass super-heavy bike and he really wanted a Huffy Santa Fe (he first confused it with the Huffy BMX) bike. The Schwinn Stingray had the banana seat and tall chopper-handlebars and you would put a baseball card in the spokes. John’s first bike was a powder-blue Schwinn Stingray with a white banana seat. It did not have a shifter, but it was a single-speed.

His mom got it for him when he was five. It was way too big for him, but it was the 1970s and she pushed him down the street a couple of times, took off the training wheels and said: ”Go!” Every kid in the whole neighborhood was standing there while she ran down the street, pushing John, and then let go and he was: ”I am flying!” and pedalled down to the end of the block, didn’t know how to turn, and crashed and every kid in the neighborhood had a great time with it, but at least he then knew how to ride a bike at 5 years old and could go wherever he wanted.

John had the same vision for his little girl and he had bought her this bike that was a little big for her, but not too badly, and it had training wheels on it, but they did not live in a neighborhood at the time where you could practice your bike out in the street, her mother lived on a busy street and John lived at his farm, so they would put the bikes in the truck and go out to some place with a bike trail and they would ride. John’s daughter was great at it right out of the gate, but somewhere in that first few months something happened where she turned against it.

Before they took the training wheels off she started to exhibit that she was scared of the bike, although they were just riding it the day before and had a wonderful time and everything was great. He was trying to be a good dad, like: ”Come on, Sweetie! Let’s get on the bike! When you fall off, you just have to get back on!”, but he was just making it worse and it had became a thing between them that he had hoped would never become a thing.

What should have happened next under normal circumstances would have been that she and her friends would have gone out in the neighborhood in the cul-de-sac and ride around and her friends would get their training wheels off and she would be ready, but they were living in the city and there was no neighborhood and no group of friends and it wasn’t possible that you could just kick your kid out in the morning and say: ”Go, ride your bike!”, so bike-riding was associated with John who was the only one who wanted her to go bike-riding and none of her friends had bike and nobody organized a thing with the kids riding bikes.

For the last 4 years the bike was a source of tremendous pain. Anytime John would wield the bike out it would turn into crying. Sometimes he would say: ”Okay, we don’t have to!”, but sometimes he would say: ”Come on! You got to learn how to ride a bike! You are 7 years old!” Everybody has to learn how to ride a bike, isn’t this John’s job as a dad? Riding a bike is such a kid thing! Maybe it is like old math where young people nowadays don’t ride bikes as a city kid. Jason Finn didn’t know how to drive a car until he was 38. In New York City there are people who never learn to drive and there is a lot less bike riding today than what it used to be.

Ken Jennings’ son is a Junior in High School and he is 16 and Ken told him it was time to learn how to drive, but he wasn’t sure: ”Why bother?” Merlin and John at 15 years old couldn’t wait to get their car! Maybe this generation doesn’t know how to ride bikes and John is a total Boomer here? You need to learn how to repair a radio, how are you else going to get a job in electronics? You need to know how to make a slingshot!

It wasn’t fear because her friends have little push scooters and she figured out how to ride one of those and she will tear ass down those huge hills where there is no where to go if she crashes! John is pretty sure that last year they never touched the bikes and they sat in the garage all summer long although John brought it up several times, but he got stone faced and didn’t push it. For the two years prior it had just been this nightmare power struggle between them. One time they went to a thing where they had closes off the big road and everybody in town came to ride their bikes around the lake, and she got on her bike and rode it as slowly so you could have gone in front of here and laid down inch-long tiles faster than she was riding, wobbling and almost tipping over intentionally.

John has video of her the first week that they had bought the bike when she was 5, hauling ass down the street, but now at 7 she is riding it shaky, crying, barely moving, while all around them everyone in town had the summer fun bike day and she had the ultimate power struggle with Daddy. John was powerless, he can’t not be emotional, he doesn’t know why it is happening, he has never yelled, he has never forced her to do anything, they are just going bike riding!

The quarantine came over them like a shroud and they were sitting around on day 10, settling into a posture where all they do is think about dinner all day. Merlin agreed, he spent hours picking out what side dish to have like Laura Ingalls Wilder. John has chopped more chives in the last month than he has ever chopped.

Four days ago John said: ”Let’s just go over and ride bikes at the school!” - ”No, I don’t want to! Can I take my scooter?” - ”Come on! Let’s just go ride bikes” and they took their bikes, riding around, shaky and slow. John would ride a little ahead, saying: ”You can’t catch me!” - ”It is not a competition!” - ”Ugh!” like a relationship with a woman when you know it is over, you think you were being funny and she says: ”Not funny!”

There were kids all around them, biking at social distance, a lot of them younger than her with no training wheels, and now she felt a shame element, but she is not going to show it and she said that she doesn’t like her training wheels because they are so loud. John encouraged her to use her body to get both training wheels off the ground at the same time, and she did it and for a brief moment they didn’t make any noise and she was off the ground. She just had her 9th birthday. And she got this look, and stopped and said: ”I felt like I was flying” - ”Yeah, that is the whole thing!” - ”Well, I am done for today!”

They went home and the next day they went out again, but John raised her training wheels a little bit because it makes it easier to get that feeling she had he day before where they weren’t touching the ground. ”Okay!” and hey went to the playground and she rode the whole distance of the parking lot without touching the training wheels down. Now she was like: ”Wow!” They did it 3-4 times across the parking lot and John told her to put her foot down to stop the bike instead of balancing on the training wheels. They did it a few times until she got it and John took her training wheels off all together. ”Okay, let’s do it!”

After 5 years of screaming and crying at the prospect of touching the bike, the look on her face when she agreed to take those training wheels off! John started running with her, pushing her, he let go, and she rode around the parking lot, stopped, put her foot down, and John told her to ride back to him and she pushed off and rode back to him and by an hour later they were both riding in the street together around the neighborhood, they never crashed, she wanted to go up this street and that street. Like a kid who never learned how to talk until they were 9 and then all of a sudden started speaking in paragraphs.

Yesterday she wanted to ride bikes again and they rode all around the town, talking and laughing the whole time, doing all kinds of things, riding on the sidewalk and on the streets. Because it is quarantine there was nobody on the street and they were just riding in the middle of the street like it is 1975.

Back at the house they were getting ready for dinner, doing a jigsaw puzzle, and she came in and asked if she could just go ride her bike on her own. ”Sure!” so she rode off and John was looking at her through the window and she disappeared around the corner. Her mom was working on the jigsaw puzzle because if there is a jigsaw puzzle around she will not do anything else. John’s daughter didn’t come back, so John put on his hat and: ”Got to go!” and he rode all the way around the corner and found her all the way down, rode up casually: ”What’s up?” - ”Oh, I was just thinking riding back get you and see if you wanted to ride bikes!” and off they went!

On the day she rode the first time she even said: ”This is a day I am going to remember!” and when she will be in college she will say she learned to ride a bike during quarantine when the streets were empty. Now she does really need a little friend, but not somebody who is just sending Daddy 41 texts. Her friend across the street is her age, but also never had her training wheels off, but she is a very competitive little girl and she is going to see that there is a new game and she is going to get off her training wheels instantly and then it is the 1970s all over again! The 20s are going to make the 1970s look like the 1950s!

Merlin’s daughter allowing him put his arm around around her (RL377)

Merlin’s daughter let him put his arm around her during the sad part of Jojo Rabbit, which she watches every couple of days, but she doesn’t like the sad part. Just for a minute but then Merlin had to stop again because she is at that age now where everything is gross and bad. They used to be very affectionate but now he is not allowed to like her anymore. John’s little girl never let him put his arm around her. She comes in sometimes and goes under John’s arm for a while and she is like a cat: She needs to be the one who runs it. She will come and climb in John’s lap and he will say: ”Oh, you are being sweet! Look at you climb in my lap” - ”No, I just wanted to pick the dander out of your beard!”

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