Sunday, November 2, 2008

A Nose for Adventure

by Andrew

We spent our first night on the road in the Raleigh-Durham area, at the home of Anne and Olivier, Belgian friends whom we had first met when we all lived in San Francisco. Their daughter Laura was born just one week after Graham (we actually met them in a natural-birth class).

They live in a lovely cottage in Carrboro, a progressive community with strong connections to the various universities in the area. After four hours in the car, we repaired immediately to the playground at Laura's school, five minutes away along leafy lanes and walking paths. The school itself looks wonderful, complete with its own vegetable garden (the sort of thing that we are always told is impossible on the Eastern Shore).

The playground was fabulous, although I suspect that it was designed during the brief period when the Marquis de Sade was the city's safety inspector. The number of methods by which children could disembowel themselves or each other was truly impressive. Needless to say, Graham discovered almost all of them.

The piece de la resistance, however, was a small balance beam. Spanning one end of the beam was a half-inch iron bar, thoughtfully positioned at face level. Recognizing the possibility of injury, the school had painted the bar in bright yellow and black stripes as a warning. Unfortunately, Graham needs something a little more obvious--like flashing lights and sirens. Absent those, he attacked the bar with his face at the first opportunity. His nose and upper lip compressed like a tired accordion, and he was fortunate to keep his teeth. He was very brave about the fact that his nose now protruded from the back of his head.

Needless to say, his face was already starting to swell by the time we returned to the cottage. When we settled down for dinner at a nearby sushi restaurant two hours later, the swelling was significantly more pronounced. His blossoming proboscis, marring what he considers to be his startling good looks, dampened his enthusiasm somewhat.

If there's one thing that can restore Graham to an even keel, however, it is sushi (just ask our credit-card company). Upon its arrival, he completely forgot his Elephant Man countenance and tucked in with great gusto. With his elongated upper lip and swollen nose, he looked for all the world like an anteater hoovering up termites. Seated across from him, Laura had an up-close and personal view. She probably still wakes up screaming in the night.

As we headed in the car to Charleston the next day, Graham announced that his nose still hurt when he touched it. "So don't touch it," replied his loving mother. Four months, 29 days to go.

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