Our youngest son, Daniel is a lot like me. We have similar personalities so I totally ‘get’ him and it also totally drives me crazy. He is a whirlwind of energy, disorganization and chaos. Mix that with my own style and well, things can be kind of challenging for the rest of the family. But as I told him one day after his dad had gotten on him about the general disorder of his life ~ “Hey, chin up! We’re messy … but we’re FUN!”
And thus was born our trademark slogan. Whenever either of us needs a quick pick-me-up, that line and a big hug is sure to do the trick.
“Daniel Just Makes You Smile!”
Can’t tell you the number of times that I’ve heard that comment ~ from our family and friends to patient teachers and good-humored department store clerks. He has an infectious smile and a gift for making people laugh ~ sometimes at inopportune moments. (I said we were similar, didn’t I?) This child radiates joy. He also inherited some of my natural flexibility, but more on that later.
The Party Trick ~ My Early Days
Long before I took up yoga, I discovered that I could hook my ankles behind my head, I believe this occurred one afternoon while watching Gilligan’s Island. From that early form, it just evolved. I found that with a small assist to get upright, I could walk around on my hands in this position. I simply needed a LITTLE encouragement. (Well, not really.) At that point, it was officially dubbed “the party trick.”But wait, there’s more …
Then Came the Song
Next, I added in the vocals. While walking around on my hands with my ankles behind my head, I added the song Fifty Nifty, a great little number which culminates in the recitation of all 50 states in alphabetical order. This was a tune I learned for my second grade end-of-the-school-year performance.
There were 50 of us in two classes at Bowie Elementary in San Angelo, Texas in 1970 and each child was to represent a different state. As I remember, we all walked across the blacktop with an unremarkable placard bearing the name of our designated state. The pairing was based on height. Our teachers took all fifty kids and lined us up in order ~ shortest to tallest ~ and then determined the corresponding state.
I, being one of the shorter kids at the time, came in as “Iowa” which meant I was the 15th from the shortest kid who happened to be Billy Alexander (a.k.a. “Alabama”). There was quite a bit of upset, as I remember, when Robin Koederitz got to be Texas. Take note, teachers everywhere, these are the scars we bare! Though I wasn’t very happy about being Iowa, it was somewhat prophetic; after all, I married Brian who grew up in Des Moines.
Childhood scars aside, the song has served me well. I’ve won many a bet with my ability to list all 50 states alphabetically in under 25 seconds; I think my personal best was 19! (Thank you, Mrs. Carruthers!) I am also pretty good on Jeopardy questions that involve state answers because I can list them quite fast …
“This state has only one sylla …”
“What is MAINE?!”
“The number of states that begin with ‘New’ …”
“What is FOUR?!” (And if you need to know, it’s New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, & New York)
I completely dominate.
Jeopardy aside, you put the trick with the song and frankly, you’ve just got a great act!
Here I am “performing” at the Seoul Restaurant & DK’s Sushi Bar. If you’ve never been there, it’s a treat. On Monday nights, the South Austin Sushi Pimp is in the house, dressed in disco attire for karaoke complete with a gong show and sake shots. Really … does it get any better than that? (It should be duly noted that I am in jeans AND strappy heels here people, not yoga clothes!)
When our boys were little I would tuck them in bed, read stories, say prayers and SING. (Please hold your applause ’til the end.) I had three main songs in my repertoire: Marty Robbins’ Ballad of the Alamo (it’s a long one and often the kids fell asleep before Santa Anna ever breeched the wall), The Legend of Billy Jack (remember “One Tin Soldier”?) and then of course, the aforementioned, Fifty Nifty. Some people do short lullabies, I do epic ballads! To this day, all three of my boys can ALSO sing the 50 states in alphabetical order, a gift they will thank me for later in life, I’m sure.
The Legend Continues
Every October, our family goes camping at Garner State Park down on the Frio river along with several other families. Among our traditions is an annual talent show. It started for the kids but has been expanded to include the adults, and the acts range from magic tricks to skits by the campfire to dance numbers to yes, even a costumed unicycle gig. We go all out!
I performed the singing and dancing party trick only once, but then sat out the following year only to have my boys reprise the act. Like me, Daniel can get his legs behind his head, but he isn’t quite “advanced enough” to manage the singing part too. (Folks, don’t kid yourself, the combination takes YEARS to master!) Coming to his rescue, my oldest son stood beside his brother and proudly sang the states while Daniel held the pose to the cheers of the roaring crowd. I am so proud! (Will somebody please hand me tissue?)
Daniel at the Talent Show in 2007
I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly “party trick” coordinates to in yoga asana. As I peruse my copy of Light on Yoga, it seems pretty close to Yoganidrasana but without the bind in plate 391. Personally, I don’t think my form invokes ideas of sleep at all. Now the singing version of my pose is definitely more in keeping with plate 392, Dwi Pada Sirsasana, but with all due respect, it does not appear to me that Mr. Iyengar is reciting the “Fifty Nifty.” Perhaps the next edition.
By the way, I did not know until today when I googled the lyrics for Fifty Nifty that Ray Charles originally sang the song. Who’d a thunk it!?
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To my Daniel … We’re messy but we’re FUN!
The King of the Dance Floor
All Systems Go!
My Mermaid at the Beach
Million Dollar Smile
The Sky’s the Limit, Baby, You Soar High!
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One Final Note ~ You know how sometimes people will say a child looks like you but then you really don’t see it? Well let’s just say, I do. Some people have called this particular photo: “Daniel in a Dress.” Sorry baby, I had to throw this in.
At my sister’s wedding in 1973