About a month ago, I found myself standing next to Sumanth at the food table at an MFA (the degree that Sumanth is studying for in creative writing) end-of-year gathering. We don't tend to have a whole lot of friends at these events, so we always seem to end up akwardly hovering over the food table having a conversation like this one:
'Did you try the hummus?'
'Yeah, it's really good. Did you like it?'
'Yeah. Is it homemade?'
'No, looks like it's from the store. Do you want to get some?'
'Yeah. We should get some. When do you want to go?'
'Tonight, probably. Does that sound good to you?'
'Yeah, let's go tonight. Lowes or Harris Teeter?'
'I don't know. Do you want a drink?'
'No. Do you?'
'Yeah, I'm going to get one.'
'I'll come with you.'
Anyways, a month ago, when I was following Sumanth from the food table to the drink room, I saw two small girls jumping up and down in a side room with their mothers watching. One of the girls had short brown bangs and immediately introduced herself as a peanut butter kitty. Her friend was also a peanut butter kitty, I learned quickly, and if I wanted to, I could be a peanut butter cat. By the time I left that night I learned that peanut butter kitties 1)eat peanut butter, 2)can get stuck in peanut butter, and 3) are made of peanut butter. I also found that while I'm not good at making party talk, I am better than average at being a peanut butter cat. Anyways, the mother of the brown-banged pb kitty asked if I babysat, and so today I spent the morning with Maia, my new four year old kindred spirit.
When I was little, I loved to make beds for fairies to sleep in. I mainly used a combination of leaves and flowers and grass and dirt, and I remember that the most important thing was the thick mattress and having a pillow available, in case the fairy wanted one. Since then, I have tried to pawn my love of fairy beds off on every child I spend time with. "Wouldn't you like to make a nice place for the fairies to sleep tonight?" I've asked on countless occassions. Usually the children are polite, and pretend that they didn't hear me, and remind me that it's time to play with the My Little Ponies or watch Finding Nemo. A couple have seemed interested before, but they usually start looking at me funny when the beds blow away and I tell them that it's just the fairies getting under the covers. Anyways, today was met with Success. Maia took the project on with ferocity. "Let's put down two pillows so that fairies can lay side by side." and then "Let's put flowers all the way around the edges, but leave a space for them to get in." "Yes," I said, "Let's definitely leave a space for them to crawl in. In fact, we can make a night stand out of the bark here for them." I think it was at this point, that Maia saw how into it I really was because she kind of gasped and said, "Oh, are fairies for real for real?"
"That," I said, "Is a very good question, peanut butter kitty."