The Gift of Innocence
The dinner music of choice this evening was the only Christmas album I will allow in my house: The Reverend Horton Heat's We Three Kings. For the uninitiated, The Reverend delivers up a selection of Christmas favorites in his surf rock, rockabilly style. They are soaked in bourbon and disillusionment and lost innocence and, in my humble opinion, go a long way to capture the actual spirit of the holiday season. The album starts off with a rollicking version of Frosty the Snowman that my jBird has loved since she called it "car seat the no-man".
As the album started, jBird commented between bites of blueberry pancakes: "Frosty is really the best name for a snowman." Which, of course, rattled loose a random memory from the Mama Vault.
When I was in 3rd or 4th grade - way back when the earth's crust was cooling and Soviets still roamed the land and public schools still had state-funded art and music programs - our entire grade worked on a papier-mâché snowman that, when it was completed, stood over six feet tall and had giant glittery LSD eyes. There was a school-wide contest to name the behemoth and the winner would be the lucky child to drag it across the stage on a dolly during our winter program while we all sang Frosty the Snowman. How cool is that?! Of course, the competition was stiff, but I was sure I had it in the bag. I had pulled out my ace in the hole. The best name for a snowman, ever: Hucklebug.
I'm not entirely sure what I was thinking. I have no idea why I was so positive that all of my classmates would agree that Hucklebug was the quintessential snowman name, but I was completely shocked when I got not a single vote for my name of choice.
"Hucklebug?!" jBird interrupted, "That's not a snowman name! No wonder no one voted for you! I think a good name would be Icicle or maybe Stardust."
"Ooh! Stardust!" the Hooligan piped up, "From now on, I want all of you to call me Mr. Stardust!"
jBird: "OK, Mr. Stardust. So, Mama, what name won?"
jBird made a face and said "Well, that's better than Hucklebug, but it's not terribly creative."
Exactly! That's what I thought then, that's what I think now and I'm sticking by it. In hindsight, the consolation is that the girl who came up with Mr. Sparkles was a shy girl who never won anything, so it was pretty cool that she got that honor and got to tote the teetering, careening giant snowman across the stage. I also am big enough to admit now that Hucklebug is not a good name for anything, much less a snowman. But Mr. Sparkles?! Really? You're telling me that's the best that all those bright young minds could come up with? I felt so vindicated that the jBird was pickin' up what I was puttin' down.
We spent the rest of the meal trying to come up with the best snowman name. Well, three of us did and one of us kept insisting we call him Mr. Stardust. We were beginning to think that perhaps jBird was correct in her assessment from the very beginning - maybe Frosty really was the best name for a snowman - when jBird waved her hands around in the universal sign language for "Ooh! Brainstorm! Brilliance! IknowIknowIknow!"
"I have one better than Frosty," she announced proudly, "Whitey."
Innocence is truly a rare gift in these times. No need to take it away too early.
Originally published on Periphery. Come name snowmen with us.