Jen and his Master in The Dark Crystal

Jen and his Master in The Dark Crystal


Pai: Dinner.

Hank: What’s for dinner?

Pai: Salad, Tuna Pasta, easy, light, no fuss. Who wants pão (bread)?

Hank: Not me.

Molly: (both arms raised) Pão (bread)!

Me: (walking into the dinning room wrapped in a blanket pulled up and over my head, wearing several sweaters and shivering) Not me.

Hank: Um, mama? You okay?

Me: No, I got cold. I am cold to the depths of my bones and to the core of my being! I have only ever been this cold once before.

Pai: (bringing bread to the table and a cup of hot tea for me) I know where this is going.

Hank: Do I know this story?

Me: Probably not. It was my first Christmas and also my first winter in Portugal. Your papa and I had just gotten back from Spain where someone stole my coat. Twice I have had my coat stolen from my hotel in Andalucía!

Hank: Weird!

Me: I know, so I had only sweaters and a light jacket and we were staying with your Avós (grandparents) by the sea in a summer house of a friend and I had gotten cold earlier in the day and wasn’t able to warm up and then by the evening I was wearing someone else’s coat and practically sitting inside the fire place.

Pai: She was. My mom was worried she would set her coat on fire.

Me: I had studied a semester of Brazilian Portuguese at the university and in a pinch I could Tarzan speak what I needed or wanted, etc., but I really didn’t speak or understand Portuguese at all and while I was sitting by that fire and I wanted to say, “My ass is freezing,” so I was working it out in my brain very slowly.

Hank: O meu rabo é como o gelo. (My butt is like ice)

Me: Exactly, but before I could say the phrase your Avó Alfredo (grandfather) looks me dead in the eye and says, “When I was young and it was this cold we all slept in one bed because we couldn’t afford blankets.”

Pai: And I had to then translate it for your mãe (mom) and as soon as I was done she burst into tears.

Hank: You did?

Me: I did! I just couldn’t handle the cold and after hearing that I just imagined that life and how cold I felt and my emotions overflowed.

Hank: Is it true? Avó Alfredo didn’t have blankets in his house?

Pai: Life was very hard in Alentejo when your Avó was young. Yes, it is true.

Hank: Wow.

Pai: So your mother is sobbing.

Me: Mostly because I was pregnant with you, but we didn’t know it yet.

Hank: Really? I am in this story?

Me: Yup.

Pai: And she looked at me and said, “In my life I have been poor and I have been hungry, but I have never been cold.”

Hank: In America you have heat everywhere because of snow.

Me: True story.

Pai: So my girlfriend is crying, my dad is confused, my mom is hiding in the kitchen…

Me: Probably in front of the oven to keep warm.

Pai: So I called your Tia Paula (aunt, my BFF) back in America and handed the phone to your mother.

Hank: Oh, that was a good idea.

Me: So I sob into the phone and you have to remember your Tia Paula lived in a Yurt, which is a huge circular tent, for seven years in the woods of Southern Indiana. She knows how to survive the cold and I said, “No matter how many blankets I layer on top of me I can’t get warm.” And she said, “Well, there’s your problem right there. You have to sleep in between the blankets. Make a blanket sandwich. If you sleep with only blankets on top of you the cold air comes in through the mattress.”

Hank: OH!

Me: “But if you sleep in between the blankets you will warm up!”

Pai: So smart!

Hank: Yah.

Me: And I have been sleeping that way every since through the three months of wet, cold, no heat Portuguese winters.

Hank: I want to sleep like that.

Me: YOU already do.

Hank: (mouth full) Huh?

Me: Both of your mattresses have a blanket wrapped and tucked under your sheets. I keep my babies warm.

Molly: Mais massa! Mais massa, peeeeeeeeees! (more pasta, please)

Hank: It was so cold today we all had to wear our coats all day inside the classroom.

Me: I believe it. The cold crept up on me. I knew it was terrible today, but as I was working the cold seeped into my feet and crawled into my bones and just sat down and refused to leave.

Pai: But your mama will be okay, because I have put a hot water bottle inside of our bed and I have turned on the heater to toast the room and she will drink a hot cup of tea and I will warm her up. That is what husbands do.

Me: (touched) Really?

Pai: Joy, you have been walking around the house, hunched over like that creature teacher from that movie you love.

Me: (pause to translate the reference) Jen’s Master in The Dark Crystal?

Pai: (chewing, nodding)

Hank: Sometimes I have no idea what my parents are talking about and I don’t know if that is normal or weird.

Me: Embrace the weird, Hank, normal is just a setting on the dryer.

Pai: Your blanket is brown and pulled up over your head, your wearing like 25 sweaters giving you a slight haunch, you move slow because of your RA… You deserve a hot water bottle.

Me: (eyed twinkling over at my person, sipping my tea) Hank, you don’t have to understand what we are saying to know that it is full of love. All this is true love.

Hank: Oh, well that I know for sure.



Novelas (Soap Operas)

A Meme I made for Alfredo after he patiently sat through my enthralling reenactment of the scene mentioned in this conversation with Hank.

What Alfredo (Pai) said to me after he patiently sat through my enthralling reenactment of the scene mentioned in this conversation with Hank. I made him this meme as an apology for making him suffer through my fandom. 


Hank: But what is in the box? (giggling to himself)

Me: Excuse me?

Hank: Nothing, it’s just a joke from Modern Family.

Me: Oh, good lord. It’s gonna be like Seinfeld all over again!

Hank: Excuse me?

Me: (putting down the laundry I was hanging on the drying rack) When I was younger there was this show on TV called Seinfeld. Absolutely everyone watched this show. Supposedly it was hilarious, but I didn’t own a TV and was working and going to school and so I had never seen it. All day every day people would make these jokes I didn’t understand. And the day after the show aired it was all anyone wanted to talk about and I was left completely out of the conversation. It’s cool. I understand Modern Family is a funny show. I am just out of the loop.

Hank: We could watch it together.

Me: A lovely idea, but you are so far ahead it would take a binge session for me to catch up and I am not that into the show.

Hank: True. And I understand. None of my friends watch Modern Family because they would have to read the legendas (subtitles) and they would rather watch something on Disney Channel or whatever.

Me: I am guilty of this, too. Once I tried to explain to your papa how on Downton Abbey the Dowager Countess made a Jane Austen joke and it was so funny I nearly laughed myself off the couch and he couldn’t have care less. Your novela (soap opera) is yours and yours alone. Enjoy it, but don’t expect anyone else to love it like you, unless they are in the fandom.

Hank: Modern Family is totally my novela (soap opera). Sooooooooo, (packing up his books) now that my homework is done can I go and watch an episode? Or two because they are short? Annnd I read my library book chapter so I have free time. Pleeease?

Me: (finally done hanging the laundry, arms burning) You are free to Netflix Modern Family until dinner. Then you must return to us with lively and entertaining conversation about school and current events.

Hank: (bouncing off) Okay!

Me: And don’t let your sister see that iPad. HIDE! She is peacefully playing and I don’t want any crying for creepy YouTube videos of counting candy or opening Kinder Eggs.

Hank: Okay! I will hide in your room. And mama?

Me: Hum?

Hank: Maybe you should binge on Modern Family. Gloria, she is from Columbia, she speaks English the way you speak Portuguese. It is so funny the mistakes she makes just like you!

Me: Noted. Now, off with you.

Hank: Love you, mama!

Me: Love you, too.





Hank: (walking into the living room at the exact right time) Oh my god! Whoa! What the?

Pai: (watching a documentary on child development) It’s a birth.

Me: (watching with him) That is a baby being born.

Hank: What is all that? Why is she in water?

Pai: That is just another way of giving birth.

Hank: (panicked) WHAT IS THAT? Why is the baby gooey?

Me: That is what is left of the sack that the baby lives in while in the womb. That goo is normal. That baby just emerged from nine months living in fluid. New born babies are gooey.

Hank: This is why I like babies after an hour or so when they are less fresh.

Me: (giggling)

Hank: I love babies, but that is a lot.

Me: Having babies is a lot of work. Trust me.

Pai: And as the dad it is also hard because you see your person working so hard and in so much pain and all you can do is support them and trust everything will be okay.

Hank: I am so lucky I don’t have to have the baby. I couldn’t do all that.

Pai: Women are strong and powerful.

Hank: Mothers are the strongest on earth. Okay. I’m done with this. I don’t have to think about babies for like a million years because you two aren’t having any more so I am going to forget I even saw that gooey baby birth water thing. (shivering)

Pai: Don’t forget you too were gooey once. We all have to be born to be here.

Hank: Yes and I have had nine years of baths to try and forget.

Me: (positively purple with laughter)

Pai: (chuckling)