Thursday, September 13, 2007

Bigfoot Sighting

I had a friend in highschool and college named Bob. He had unusually large feet and wore size 17.5 basketball shoes. I'm not sure about the proported correlation between big feet and a certain sexual organ, but I do know that he once received an anonymous Father's Day card.

Apologies to Matt Damon

The idea for this post arrived as I was watching last night’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live. I usually mute the first 30 seconds of the show because Robert Goulet’s vocals in the opening theme song are so horribly flat that I suffer physical pain every time I hear them. I lay there wondering how both the engineer and producer could allow such a dreadful overdub to make its way into the bedrooms of the millions who watch this wildly-popular show. My guess is that they were afraid to offend the legendary Mr. Goulet by asking for another take, or they simply could not afford one. What would Randy Jackson say about this performance?

I began to contemplate why I find such dissonance so offensive, when it can pass effortlessly through the ear canals of a trained professional. I can only offer the suggestion that my reaction is a genetic predisposition. I’ve always told people that I have perfect pitch, but after doing a bit of research, I found that what I possess is actually relative pitch. I play by ear, so I would have difficulty naming a note based upon its pitch, but I can tell which strings are out of tune on a guitar just by hearing a chord being strummed. Wikipedia says that relative pitch is a learned behavior, but says nothing about the discomfort associated with hearing mistuned instruments or voices. I know of at least two in my family who share this same trait. We squint our eyes and tilt our head hoping to magically bend that sour note back into place. It never works.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Infant Nicknames

I have three sisters, all whom have young children branded with infantile petnames – ‘The Boobus’, ‘Birdy’, ‘Dudes’, etc. As I'm notorious for giving nicknames to almost everyone I know, my family was assured that our firstborn son, Nicholas, would get the budweiser of all nicknames.

Admittedly, I have to credit Nick for creating his own moniker. Upon his first breath of sterile hospital air, he didn’t really wail like the babies I had seen on TV or in movies. He popped out, his mouth opened wide, his face got red, and then this pitiful little cry spewed forth that sounded something like ‘unGUYYYYYYYY, unGUYYYYYYYY’. We were later relieved to learn that he really didn’t cry much at all. And on those rare occasions when his fussiness would begin to escalate, that cry soon became our own personal noun, as in, ‘Uh, oh, I think I hear an unGuy coming’ or ‘Did you get any unGuys today?’ which rapidly morphed into ‘I think unGuy had a blowout' or ‘How long’s unGuy been asleep?’ We grasped in vain at any sense of a nickname that would keep his masculinity intact. We threw ‘Dude’, ‘Big Guy’, ‘Bud’ at him. Nothing stuck. Sorry, unGuy.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Run, Funkylegs. Run!

I suppose I should explain the name Funkylegs. This is a self-imposed nickname derived from my unique, shall I say, ‘gait’. My mom was reportedly quite small when she became pregnant shortly before her twenty-first birthday. She claims she was about 110 lbs and packed on at least eighty more during her pregnancy. Apparently the womb was too tiny for my gangly frame (I’m 6’3” now), and my legs were sort of pretzeled in there. As an infant, I was severely pigeon-toed, so my legs were often fixed to this metal apparatus that pointed them in the right direction, as in, straight ahead. I remember once sitting in the kid’s seat on the back of my dad’s bicycle and getting my feet caught in the spokes. Later as a middle-schooler, a certain classmate teased me relentlessly about the way one leg sort of swung out and the other swung in as I walked to my classes. Once in college, a girl asked me how I had injured my leg after seeing me walk towards her on campus. I’m sure there are many more memories like these, but they're likely victims of selective amnesia.

I’ve grown accustomed to the way in which I walk. In fact, I married a girl with similar issues. We’ve always joked about having a kid with legs that are either really messed up or completely straight, as our impediments sort of canceled each other out (thankfully, he was born with normal legs, although I suspect he’ll be a bit bowlegged). I took up running, and those unnatural movements don’t seem to be affecting my knees or finishing times. When I see a child in a wheelchair or a man taking an elevator up one floor, I’m grateful I can walk at all.