I hope my girls learn by osmosis.
When they get in my car, if I turn my radio down a little – to say, 12 – I can keep NPR on and they won’t even notice. (If the Moth Radio Hour is on, I can turn it up to 15 or 18 even.) Every once in a while a word will pop out from the broadcast, and it’ll even spark a little conversation.
Race relations. Politics. Shit about the rain forest.
And even though the kids sometimes get it wrong.
(“It’s free speech – it’s in the bible.” one kid muttered. “Orlando is a country,” said another. Or was it the same one? She might have also said “chiro means earth.” But an inquisitive mind doesn’t have to always get it right.)
Such exposure leads to conversation, or even questions. The kind of questions I pile up and answer on Thursday nights for Friday. Like, these five.
2. Are we friends with Russia?
You tell me. Granted, Ivan Drago was from Sthe Soviet Union but the cold war we kids enjoyed in the 80s is being reborn today.
Whether it’s Russian president Vladimir Putin swiping Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl rings or the U.S. and Russia picking sides in Syria, we always seem to end up on the other side of the fence.
We have a nice little pissing match going on in over Ukraine, too.
No, I’d say we’re not friends with Russia. I wanted to make fun of the Russian soccer team, but they’re ranked 23rd in the world – 10 spots ahead of Merica. Dammit.
2. How do you say ‘turd’ in Spanish?
In Russian, it’s der’mo.
In Spanish – depends on who you ask. My dad used to say mojon, but he was from New Mexico and they do things differently there. Google Translate tells us its zurullo. SpanishDict.com calls a parcel of poop la cagada or la mierda. That last one, I thought, was translated to shit in English.
I also learned that a person who you refer to as a turd, in Spain, would be el gilipollas (or la gilipollas, for a girl.) Who says your questions aren’t enlightening?
3. How old were the guys in The Beatles when they first started?
At age 17, in 1957, John Lennon formed The Quarry Men, a precursor for The Beatles.
He even let little Paul McCartney, age 15, join in. Grammar school friends, John and Paul played a style of music some called rock ‘n’ skiffle, which brought a taste of blues, folk and jazz. George Harrison joined at age 15, and Ringo Starr became the Beatles’ drummer at age 21 in 1962.
They had several different names before they became The Beatles, including Johnny and the Moondogs, The Sliver Beatles and the Beatals.
Here’s my favorite Beatles song.
4. Would a tomato explode if you threw it at something?
Before they tossed Octopuses, the thing was tomatoes.
Rotten ones work best. Yes, they explode. Tomato tossing has roots in Shakespeare’s Globe Theater in Elizabethan London. Before tomatoes, folks heaved turnips at Vespasianus Caesar Augustus during the riot of Hadrumetum. (He’d just told the Romans if they liked their health insurance … )
Let’s take a sack of tomatoes out and try it on things.
Don’t tell your mom.
5. How much is cornstarch in the store?
You can get all all-natural stuff, even vegan fare, online for big bucks.
I can get it in Target for $1.39. That’ misleading, however.
Because before I pick up the can of cornstarch, I’ll check out the men’s clearance. I might end up with an ugly shirt or loud shorts. I’ll feel obliged to run past the sporting goods, toy department, and that aisle in the middle of the store that has a little of everything – all in search for clearance stickers.
70% off or more, if I can manage it.
Where do you think you get all these, um, great birthday and Christmas presents? Now, turn up the radio, girls. Did you hear about the kid who was disqualified from a cross country race for what he wrote on his headband?
It was on NPR.