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During dinner the other night, just my daughter and me, we kicked about a sticky situation. One of those whatever-I-do-there'll-be-goo situations. I advised her to not get caught in the middle. Let her friends find another fixer and emollient.
You know what I mean? I asked.
She, with that too-serious-for-an-eleven-year-old look of hers, shook her head and said, I know what you mean.
I know you know what I mean, I replied. (I couldn't help myself.)
She straightened in her chair immediately. Little pings going off in her head. A what's-mother-trying-to-do-here kind of smirk. She bleated, I know you know that I know what you mean.
Quick I said, I know you know that I know that you know that I know that you know what I mean.
She squirmed in her chair, and tucked the lower half of both of her legs underneath the back of her thighs so that she sat higher above the table, and spouted, I know you know that I know you know you mean that you know that I know what you mean!
It went on like this, like a 1930's vaudeville act, like Abbot and Costello, like Laurel and Hardy, until we laughed so hard it ached, until we could no longer count the knows and means, and by the time the verbal volley ended she had all but forgotten the knotty position in which she was tangled.
I thought about the old slide projector, and the tripod-style white-textured screen Dad rolled up, hooked to the top of the metal rod. And the black and white movies, and all that equipment. The nights before we ever thought to say, Not the slides again! On those nights Dad pulled the projectors, slide carousels and round, brown canisters of 8mm film out from under the window seat, set it up on a TV tray, plugged in reels, and threaded film through the heavy projector, and we watched grainy slides and the brilliant banter of Abbott and Costello in Who's On First.
While I know Lulu—the girl who loves word play, puns, clever linguistic twists and rhetorical excursions—would appreciate an Abbott and Costello video, I didn't mention them. I'm going to wait until I can retrieve all that heavy equipment and dazzle her with a vintage movie evening with Abbott, Costello and the like. In the meantime, I had her listen to another form of vaudeville, a musical vaudeville nouveau that dazzled me with its honest lyrics and brilliant rhetoric.
April Smith and the Great Picture Show:
Sassy, quirky music full of swagger that takes you back to the days before CDs, vinyl, cassettes or 8-track. Way back to the early days of the juke box. Cabaret. Burlesque. Vaudeville. And then, zip, right back to today.
With stunning vocals. (By a girl who made her first album with the help of kickstarter.com)
You know what I mean?
Oh, one more...
I can't help myself.