Watch out, but don’t cry

When I was little and I’d get upset about something and pout about it, my grandfather (we called him Apappa) always told me that if I kept pouting a bird would come and land on my lower lip. I think he intended it to be tough love of the “quit crying or I’ll give you something to cry about” variety (Hungarian-Americans aren’t really known for their toddler-whispering skills) but I always thought it was a combo of hilarious and thrillingly scary (think about their little sharp toe-claws digging into your lip!) and I’d laugh every time.

That is always what I think about when I come across the word “pout,” so every time I hear “Santa Claus Is Coming To Town” I think about Apappa and a bird landing on my lip. That makes me laugh off the rest of the terrifying lyrics to the song about monitoring me 24/7 and knowing both my thoughts and actions and punishing me for them but wanting me to want to “be good.” (My teenager thinks it’s a gut-buster that there’s a peppy little Christmas song about the surveillance state. It was funnier last year.)

This is where I am right now, though: Watch out, stay alert, be ready. I’ve cried enough for this week, and now I’m laughing. What else can I do? Being good (especially for goodness’ sake) is clearly not an option anymore.

This is me, not pouting.



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