Saturday, July 14, 2007

Binkies, God's Gift to Parents of Certain Children

Carol and I often listen to audio books when we drive on vacation. (Can you imagine that she might not just want to listen to me talk hour after hour? But, really, it's true.) We went to the library to see what we could find for our recent trip to Montreat NC. We checked out a number of books, both regular and audio, among them an audio version of Anne Tyler's "Digging to America".

Carol made this selection, and I wasn't paying a lot of attention. I had in mind that the author in question was the mystery writer, Ann Perry. Wrong. This was Anne Tyler, whose fiction is about RELATIONSHIPS! (Boooorrrrring.) I didn't realize my mistake until we were about 12 seconds into the audio book on our trip. (Maybe it was 5 seconds, I really don't remember.)

Well, it was quite a long book, and I have to concede that it was sort of interesting. It's about two Baltmore couples and their extended families who first meet each other in the late 1990s in the gate area of the Baltimore international airport as they are awaiting the arrival of an airplane from Korea. Coincidentally, among the passengers on that airplane are two little girl babies, one that is being adopted by each family. The babies are being delivered by representatives of different Korean adoption agencies. One of the couples is sort of typical American, noisy with a lot of friends and other family members in the waiting area with them with cameras, party hats, signs, and video cameras. The other couple is Iranian-American, quiet with only the mother of the husband with them. When the babies are brought off the plane, the two families realize that they have something very special in common with one another and a friendship commences, the growth of which over the next three thousand, four-hundred audio-book hours (or 1600 miles, whichever comes first) is the "backbone" of the "plot" of the book.

Anyway, deep, deep, deep into the book, one of the families adopts a second little girl, this one from China. This little girl becomes a total Binkie freak. It is obvious that the author has had some very significant, probably traumatic personal experience with this sort of little person. The house becomes filled with this little tyrant's, excuse me I mean strong-willed child's, binkies. (Could such a personality type possibly be associated with Binkie madness? I'm sure not. It's probably just fiction.)

At some point in the narrative, the mother decides the Binkies have to go, and a sort of war of wills commences between her and the little girl. The mother decides that she will have a good-bye Binkie party, during which she will have all her friends over. She promises her tiny daughter a wonderful present to commemerate the day that the Binkies will go. In preparation for the party, the mother prepares helium balloons and ties a Binkie to each balloon by means of a string dangling from it. The highlight of the party will be when each person attending will get a balloon and go outside with it and, at the count of three, release his or her balloon into the atmosphere. The Binkie strategy doesn't quite work out, and it is funny, I have to admit.

As Carol and I discussed Binkies, as a result of Kellsey's post about Honor, she said that with one of our children, who will go unnamed in this public place, the Binkie saved her sanity. I wouldn't go that far, given what I know of her sanity at this point, but it probably prevented infanticide.


Walter said...

I read this post and thought that "binkie" was "bikini" until I got to the last line and what had been strange post ceased to make any sense at all.

"When did a bikini save mom's sanity?...I know Mary was crazy, but I don't remember bikini's being involved...Honor wears bikinis?..."

I put it together at that point.

Paul Stokes said...

Morgan, please put the coffee on. Thanks.