This Is How Putin Knits

by jkatejohnston

We went to Tahoe over the weekend: snowsuits on Saturday, wetsuits on Sunday. Hurrah!

The water was too cold for swimming, but Enzo did get most of the way wet, splashing between boulders that you’d usually have to swim between. The water was low, but clear and green and blue. We saw some crawdads but caught none. “These are cautious juveniles. Ahm lookin’ for a big old dumb one.” Later, at Trout Creek, we caught a big old dumb one which turned out to be smart enough to escape from Enzo’s habitat.

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I’ve been neglecting this diary, so I don’t think I’ve written that we’ve been reading The Great Brain books to Enzo, and he loves them. Do people know about these? They’re set in Utah in the late nineteenth century. The Great Brain is the kid-narrator’s brother, who, with his great brain and money-loving heart, is always swindling other kids and sometimes grownups too. So we read all of eight of them in a row, and then started The Black Stallion, which he resisted at first but now likes a lot. And then we tried The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Teresa and I thought he’d like the lion part and that he’d ride right over all that stupid symbolism. I guess we forgot about The Witch. Also, just when you thought things couldn’t get any more precious, Mr. Tumnus, the Faun. Anyway, I’m delighted to say that he hated it. And even though I try not make Enzo into an extension of my own ego (a special danger if you write) I have to admit that when he hates what I hate, it makes me love him more. Fuck fauns, now and forever. All of which I’m prepared to take back if he ever gets into those dreadful Harry Potter books.

But I’m glad Enzo has passionate interests (crocodilians; fish; measurement) that bore me and Teresa to death. He’s very: I am myn ownen boye, well at ease. I see that requires explanation. Chaucer’s line is: I am myn owen woman, well at ease—I am my own woman, well at ease. It doesn’t last, natch—I mean in the Chaucer story. And I’m sure that Enzo’s boyish assurance will go away with puberty, but he’ll still be his own kid—as unlike us as animals of the same species can be—just a cautious juvenile, ille at ease.

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Enzo notes:

Teresa bought Nacho Cheese goldfish crackers. (In our day it was plain or parmesan.) Enzo: “I’ve heard of Cheese Pizza goldfish crackers, but this is ridiculous.”

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Watching a new Scooby Doo video: “It’s a real zombified mummy ghost!”

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“Anything that’s violent is cool to me.”

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“I would probably go one mile out of town to catch a catfish and hunt for fossils.”

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“You guys should thank God for having a young son who can outsmart a scientist.”

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“You know the first time my great brain ever spoke to me was when I was about three.”

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“It takes five of these legs and my butt to go across the room.” (I told you he was into measurement.)

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“That ramen place is smackin ma lips, crackin ma lips.”

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“I’m training to be a grownup. I’m training at an early age to catch crocodiles. And learning to shoot small game. I only shoot stuffed small game.”

*

Teresa and Enzo knitting on the couch in Tahoe with the morning sun pouring in. Enzo starts a new color. “Is this bulky? I work the best in bulky.” Teresa checks the label. It’s bulky. “I’m starting to be a young man. I’m considered a young man. I thought only grandmas knitted.”

“Everybody at school knits.”

“Because they’re all grandmas.”

“They are not. Are you saying that people who are older usually knit?”

“Yeah. Really old people.”

Enzo takes off his pajama top and goes back to knitting. The morning sun gleams on his little boy bod.

Teresa: “This is manly knitting. This is how Putin knits.”

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