In The Suburbs, The Hills
I used to claim, fogey-like, that I didn't understand the appeal of The Hills and its cast of real-life mannequins. "I don't understand this", I would say to Beth. "Is this a reality show? Is it scripted? Did Spencer Pratt's parents have any children that lived? What's going on here?" "It's both", Beth would reply. "It's a scripted reality show. The producers set up these situations, and the cast members respond as if it were real life. I think. Who knows?"
"What do you guys want for breakfast?"
"Honey Nut O's!", he says. "GAPE NUTS!", she says, an improvement on her previous pronunciation, "Rape Nuts". "I want Grape Nuts too!", he replies. I pour some of the gravelly cereal into two bowls and add milk. Cereal, I think, is always good blog fodder. I reach for a grapefruit. "I want DAT, Daddy!", she yells. "Me too!", he adds. "You guys don't like this. It's grapefruit." "Oh", Zoe says. "Dad?", Lucas asks. "If I plant Grape Nuts, will a grapefruit tree grow?" Zoe grabs her dolls, Tiana and Naveen from The Princess and The Frog, disrobes them, and places them in her cereal bowl. "Dey having a baff." Lucas picks up his cereal bowl and walks towards the patio door. "Where are you going", I sask. (Sasking: posing a question which is actually a statement - no, you are not doing what I'm seeing/inquiring about.) He looks at me like I'm the crazy one. "I'm going to plant my Grape Nuts so you can have a grapefruit tree."
The beach. The winter tides pulled the sand right off of the local coastline, exposing a layer of sea-smoothed rocks. The sun's out and the water's a decent temperature. Climbing out of the car, Lucas poses a question: "Dad, do you like the beach? Or the pool?" "Oh, the beach", I reply. "Even though you guys get all sandy. You can't surf in the pool." "But there's no rocks or stingrays or jellyfish at the pool", he counters. "True", I say. We head down to the water's edge. The two of them splash around, get bowled over by the the knee-high surf, get up, splash around, repeat. Lucas picks up a rock and throws into the ocean. Zoe picks up a rock and throws it at Lucas. "No throwing," I tell her. She scoops up wet sand and flings it at Lucas. "No throwing." She scoops up more sand and flings it at me. "Zoe?" "Hi Daddy!" "No throwing at Lucas or Daddy, ok?" "Ok!" She spots a seashell, bleached so white that the sun gives it an incendiary glow, disrupting its outlines, causing it to blur in her hand. It's a fluorescent talisman, magical. When she whips it at me it bounces right off of my forehead.
Beth and I are on the couch, watching Top Chef. "They're not gonna get rid of that guy", I say. "He's the Villain. He's good drama. Doesn't matter how well the dude cooks, the producers will want to keep him on." Beth disagrees. "No, if he sucked that bad, the judges will vote him off." Padma asks the other chef to pack his knives. That Guy breathes a sigh of relief. "See? They kept him." Beth: "Hmm. You think the show's rigged?" "I dunno. It's still entertaining."