Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

You just never know.

Rebecca had her practice last night, and since it was her birthday, Mama and I decided to surprise her with some cupcakes for her and her team after practice. We’re so busy that it’s nearly impossible to schedule any sort of real party, and we figured she would like being with her friends. So, off to the park, where I told her I was going to have to drop her off with her coach, and then I had to run to the store, and then I would be right back.

“Okay. What do you have to get at the store, Daddy?”

“Just some stuff.”


Off to the store, where I found tray upon tray of cupcakes, brightly decorated in every conceivable sort of doodad, except soccer balls. Birds, footballs, Barbies, pumpkins, flowers, baseballs, Howard Dean (not really)--but nary a soccer ball. They did have some unbricabrac’d ones, and I figured that surely there would be some of the coveted decorations behind the counter. If I could only get the attention of the lone employee, who was studiously (and loudly) cleaning some crusty something or other on the other side of the deli area.

I stood there hoping she would notice me (I’m an optimist like that), and finally decided that I would go see if I could speed things along.


A head peeped around the corner, “D’you call me?”

Finally. “Yes, ma’am, I was wondering if you have any little soccer ball picks to decorate cupcakes with?”

She looked like I had just asked for a five pound block of unobtainium.


“You know, the little plastic picks that you can stick on top of cupcakes? For decoration?”

“Hm. Foller me on down here.”

Yes, ma’am. I followed and she got to the bakery case and started digging around underneath before triumphantly pulling out the item, holding it aloft as if it were a magical amulet (not really) and said, “This what you want?” Indeedy-do. “Yes, ma’am, I need 24 if you have them.” She grabbed a big bagful and started carefully sorting them like a pharmacist does pills, then sealed them up in a ziplock bag and handed them over. Success! “Thank you!” “Uh-huh.” Oh well...if nothing else, I was excited.

So, off then again to the park where I put the cakes into the cooler at the concession stand. Then I parked my ample haunches in my folding chair down on the field and downed two big cups of dense black java in the intervening time to keep from being so chilly. At the very end of practice I got the coach’s attention to let him know I had an announcement. I told the girls it was Rebecca’s birthday and there were cupca…and all semblance of order was lost as they grabbed their bags and balls and shoes and water bottles and took off on a mad dash for the concession stand.

They loaded up on hot chocolate and grabbed themselves some sugar (sorry parents) and they proceeded to jabber like nuclear-fueled gibbons. Rebecca, as is her usual way, just grinned and giggled as they messed with her and teased her to try to get her to talk. She is exceedingly quiet around groups of people, and affects a shyness that is quite out of character with her normal ninety-to-nothing commotion when she’s around us. The girls love her to pieces, and they HAVE heard her talk some, but they like to joke with her anyway. Which she kinda likes.

“Does Rebecca ever talk at home?!”

“Oh yes, she sure does—when she gets wound up she won’t quit!”

“What does she sound like?”

“Oh, like a crow and a parrot, or a badger!” Gales of laughter, but in good fun—Rebecca was sitting in a chair about to burst from suppressed laughter, and I gave her a big hug to let her know I was just kidding with her. The girls continued eating and socializing, and after a while the crowd thinned down and I started getting ready to go, and then ANOTHER round of “Happy Birthday” set in. Her chair had gotten turned around some time earlier, so her back was to the kids singing to her, and she was wiggling like a water balloon from laughing, as they tried in vain to get her to turn around. Nothing doing! After I cleaned up a bit more and made sure everyone’s little siblings had gotten something, I managed to get her to say a teensy little “thank-you” to everyone for staying, and then I said goodnight to all of them until Thursday.

I grabbed her bag and we headed off to the van with her remaining three cupcakes, and just as I got her inside, her coach came bounding up. He is relentlessly bouncy—like Tigger on crack, but is an incredibly good fellow with a great way with the kids.

“Hey kid!” She waved. He stuck his head in the door of the van.

“Listen, I have a present for you—let’s see if I can remember it. Okay, let’s see—there’s this Swiss proverb—and you see I have my Swiss jersey on—that says, Sprechen ist silbern, Schweigen ist golden. That means ‘to speak—or speaking—is silver, but silence is golden.’ AND, there was this man named…ahhhh, Carlyle, yeah, that’s it, Thomas Carlyle, and he remembered that saying, too, and do you know what he said?”

Head shake no.

“He said that ‘Speech is of time, but silence is of eternity.’ So, you know, it’s okay to be quiet sometimes, kid.”

She nodded her head, and he turned to bounce off down the hill. I stopped him and stuck out my hand. “Thanks, Mark.”

Good fellow, even if he did nearly make me cry.

You know, I live in a pretty interesting town.

Under all speech that is good for anything there lies a silence that is better, Silence is deep as Eternity; speech is shallow as Time.

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