Sunday, September 18, 2011

Feeding Mei Mei, or, Drinking with a Russian

Author's Introduction:

Feeding my daughter, our second child, is an experience classifiable as something between a torture session, a séance, a joint psychotic episode, the climactic scene from The Exorcist, and the nursing of an alcoholic Russian submarine officer who has lost the ability to speak. It is this last similitude that provides the title for the following theatrical interpretation, because it is my daughter’s voracious consumption of yogurt – to the point of gagging, and gorging herself such that, when subsequently laid down for a diaper change, she looks as if a dinner plate has lodged in her stomach – it is because this ravenous consumption of yogurt is repeatedly punctuated by bellows of the most profound animal satisfaction, the most contorted expressions of burning discomfort, and the most earnest mutterings for “ma-ma,” that I can think of no more perfect comparison than with a Slavic mariner. (All offended Slavic mariners please send hate-mail separately to my blogger email).

"Drinking with a Russian"

An experimental one-act play based on leaked National Security Administration transcripts of an American father’s attempt to feed his daughter as she inexplicably channels the personality of a Russian submarine officer.

Act One

(Curtain rises to the tune of Regina Spektor's "Sailor Song". Family kitchen. Baby Squeaky is in the high chair. Enter father in kitchen apron. Prepares food at the counter, approaches baby with a tub of yogurt.)

Squeaky: Vodka!

Dad: [turning around, surprised] What?

Squeaky: Vodka! Don’t make me say it again!

Dad: Slow down and start with your yogurt. Open up!

Squeaky: Get that French shit out of my face. You know what I want! Where are you hiding it? M-BAH!

(Father closes kitchen windows, quickly spoons mouthful of yogurt to baby, who makes a sour face.)

Squeaky: Ma-ma! (slams fist on tray repeatedly)

(Father quickly spoons another mouthful of yogurt to Squeaky.)

Squeaky: (bellowing) Yes! More! (coughs) M-Bah! (slams fists on tray again)

Dad: I think we should slow down a little. You may gag if we go too fast.

Squeaky: Ah, how it burns going down. (coughs, grimaces) Another tub for everyone, all around!

Dad: This is just yogurt, Squeaky, not vodka.

Squeaky: Oh, but how it kills the pain. M-Bah! More!

Dad: OK, have some more. This is peach flavor. Remember to chew, because it has chunkies.  I can’t believe your appetite.

Squeaky: My appetite? Do you know what it’s like to live inside a tub at the bottom of the Arctic Sea? When all you hear is the ice slamming the hull, week after week after week? We get hungry down there, amerikanskiĭ.

Dad: I can’t imagine.

Squeaky: (bellows, then waves away the spoon, startled. Frenziedly grabs her left arm with her right hand. Holds her left hand in front of her face, moves fingers and studies them as if in a trance) The spiders!

Dad: What spiders!

Squeaky: Get the fucking spiders off my arm! (coughs, projecting yogurt onto father’s apron and all over the high chair tray)

Dad: Jesus, Squeaky, you just spit up the last ten minutes of my work. Now we have to start all over again. And there are no spiders on your arm.

Squeaky: (makes a toothless grimace) Wipe off the fucking spiders before they get to my head you fascist prick. (calms herself)

I remember a song we used to sing, at times like this, when the tub would get snagged on the bottom of the Baltic (raises her arms and drops them onto the table in  2/2 rhythm):

In the doorway there is standing a Cossack
His beard snowy white upon his chest
He is waiting for the lovely Natasha
She costs plenty, but she is the best

Dad: We’re gonna have to wrap that one up before mom comes home, Squeaky. Hey, why is your face so red? Are you OK? (father stands up suddenly) Are you choking? Oh my god you are red as a tomato!

Squeaky: (grunts) I’m shitting my pants. This is going to take a minute. (grunts)

Dad: Why do you do it that way, on the seat of the chair? Wouldn’t it be easier to let me help you stand up? Gravity is  your friend.

Squeaky: Do you think we had room to stand up in the bathtub, my friend? (grunts) Hit your skull on the bulkhead just once and the Americans will send you a torpedo for breakfast. Besides, after all those years, it feels better this way. (issues a final grunt, raises arms in expectation of being lifted) 

Time to swab the deck, mate.

Dad: Just like in the submarine, right? (lifts Squeaky for diaper change)

Squeaky: Full fathom five, captain. (breaks into song again)

And there is singing, and there is dancing,
And the Russian vodka is all right.
Come to the Kretchma, that's where you'll ketchma,
Drinking vodka every night




ND said...


Learning how to eat is harder that it looks or than we remember, I suspect?

Maybe that's what the "ma-ma" was about? She would like to be able to regress and not have to learn how to do this?

But it is good her dad is hanging in there with her as she learns - a little "you can do it" encouragement goes a long way, no? :)

Jeremy Adam Smith said...

Ha ha ha!