There's a kid and his mom that I run into quite often while walking Ben. One day this late fall, she asked if her son, who's about 1 and a handful of change, could pat the dog. I said "Sure" and walked over. The kid immediately goes behind his mother's legs and peers out anxiously at Ben. Ben can be a scary looking dude in anyone's estimation. I can't imagine what it's like when you're only two feet tall! Ben seemed to sense the kid's trepidation He stopped his normal beans-for-brains antics for once and quietly sat down and looked back at him. The kid thought about it a couple of minutes and then comes bailing out from around his mum runs to Ben and throws his arms around him in a brotherly hug. No timid 'touch and run' for this guy. Ben gives him is patented slurp up side the head and they've been best buds since.
His mom says Torry is painfully shy and retiring with strangers, but for whatever reason, I am his go-to girl for a chit-chat every time he sees me. The problem is...I can't understand ONE WORD the little fella says. It's not the normal baby googles that I'm used to. I wish that I COULD Google Translate it because he's just so passionate and animated. There's inflection in his voice. He punctuates his thoughts with belly laughs. He asks questions. Arms flail to make his point. Eyebrows raise to assess my understanding. Yet it all goes into my brain pan and just sits there like cold tapioca. I got NOTHIN' when it comes to this kid.
His mother translates for him, like they do. Usually, at that point, you can relate what the mom says to the baby babble and kind of see a correlation. Not with Torry. I was beginning to think the kid was an alien changeling or something (because the thought that I am just too stupid to understand a nearly two-year old is unthinkable). He's obviously trying to communicate something important! Unfortunately he's picked the wrong planetary ambassador 'cause I got nada, nil, zilch, zero in the comprehension department. He keeps trying though. He never gives up. He doesn't get frustrated. He talks away while I tilt my head and give his the equivalent of the look that Ben gives me when I'm trying to explain something to him.
Yesterday, he saw me coming up the street, broke free from his mom and tore down the sidewalk toward me as fast as his chubby, little, snowsuit-encased legs would carry him. He was chanting the same four syllables the entire way. "PAY PAL WING WINGS! PAY PAL WING WINGS! PAY PAL WING WINGS!" The first thing I thought of was that old Richard Dryfus movie, "Crippendorf's Tribe". Oh my gosh, he's not an alien! He's a member of some sort of primitive, tribe heretofore undiscovered in the suburbs of south central Wisconsin!
He crashed into my legs. That's how his people stop quickly apparently. He and Ben had a snuggle session and all the while he's glancing up at me and chanting, "PAY PAL WING WINGS". His mom, who thinks it's hilarious that I can't speak 'Torry', finally arrives and laughingly says, "Do you know what he's saying?" I hate this. It's akin to when that person walks up to you and says "You know who I am, don't you?" NO! Then she makes it worse by saying, "Take a stab at it." Fine. I'm game. In the name of anthropology, I'll put extra effort into communicating with the diminutive tribesman.
"PAY PAL WING WINGS!" he says emphatically. "Well..." I scratch my chin thoughtfully so as to make the impression that I have a shot in heck at this. "Apparently it's some kind of thinly veiled extortion attempt in which I, Wing-Wings, should transfer monetary funds into his Pay Pal account." She thinks this is hysterical and when she gets done laughing at me, she wipes her eyes and tells me what he said.
Aside: For Christmas this year, dear friends in Minneapolis sent me adorable earrings. They are little yarn balls about the size of a peanut M&M and have teeny, tiny, eentsy, weentsy knitting needles in them. The yarn is purple. Turns out, I was wearing them the last time I ran into Torry and his mum said he was captivated with them and had babbled about them since.
PAY PAL WING WINGS!= PURPLE EARRINGS! Did I finally have the Rosetta Stone necessary to crack his lexicon? Probably not...but I finally had an infinitesimal glint of hope.
"PAY PAL WING WINGS?" said I pointing to my ears. " PAY PAL WING WINGS!" he hooted. Both of us kept repeating the phrase, dancing around, nodding and laughing in the age old tradition of two vastly different tribesman who have finally found common ground. In fact we kept it up until his mom began to look concerned. I pulled myself together, looked at her calmly, said 'Pay Pal Wing Wing', saluted Torry, who nodded sagely, and continued on my way.
Guess what my new 'walking earrings' are going to be?