I’ve been in New York City a year now. I have yet to get mugged, which I attribute to the fact that I arm myself. No, no…I don’t conceal a gun. I carry a Walkman from 1993, instead of an iPod like everyone else. Muggers don’t spend time on people who look broke and disconnected. I don’t actually use the Walkman. It’s been broken for years. But muggers don’t know that. All they know is that when they approach me on a subway, I sing My Sherona loud enough to make the guy with the Ziploc shorts look sane. They see that, plus my outdated choices, and they avoid me. By the way, the Ziploc guy has a sweet iPod, and I bet it stays dry when it rains.

I love New York, but I do miss Nashville. All the girls in my life are there, and I love them all. They are my little nieces, who may be replacing my brother Paul as the funniest members of the family. To illustrate, here are some examples.

On my last trip home, I visited my sister Beth and her family. My niece Kate (5) was making pretend foods out of Play-doh and putting them in a plastic frying pan.
“Uncle Paul!”
“I’m Uncle Keith.”
“Whatever. (sidenote: her mom is a former Tri-Delta sorority girl, so I guess college club attitudes can be passed on genetically.) Do you want a brownie?”
“Well, Kate. We’re getting ready to eat dinner. I don’t want to ruin my appetite.”
“Uncle Keith, just so you know…they’re not real. Look, I made brownies, pies, and ice.”
“You have ice in the same skillet as hot baked goods?”
“(sigh and eye roll) Just pick one.” Translation: I’m five. Your logic isn’t worth my time.
I traded her the whole skillet for my broken Walkman.

Her sister Kendall is ten, which means she’s going to call me soon, right when she needs to unload her allotment of Girl Scout cookies. She knows I’m going to buy some, but she tries to upsell me like she’s working for commission.
“Uncle Paul.”
“Whatever. Look, last year, you got a box of Thin Mints and a box of Do Si Dos. What’s it gonna take to put you in a box of Samoas too?”
“I don’t know, Kendall. Those have a lot of fat content.”
“Listen. I don’t normally do this, but I like you. I want you to have these Samoas. But Aunt Nancy’s asking about them too. You should hop on this chance before she does.”

Okay, she didn’t really say that last part, but I almost expect her to. Her mom works from home, so unlike every other Girl Scout in the world, she can’t have a third party go to the office and annoy co-workers with cookie sales for six weeks. She has to hustle and do it herself. (Which means I doubt she’ll vote for a Democrat in 8 years.)

My other sister Nancy has two girls as well, Camden (5) and Mary (7). For the most part, they get along like sisters should. But every now and then, they get along like sisters normally do. After one such occasion, Mary wrote a note and placed it on Camden’s bed before she woke up. I kid you not, this is what it read:
Dear Camden,
If you are nice to your sister, she’ll be nice to you. If you’re not nice to your sister, I will make your life horrible.

Wow. Not only was Mary clever and slightly mean at the same time, but she also knows the difference between “your” and “you’re”, something I can’t say for most people who use email. Then again, with the pen name she chose, she probably felt more obligated to proofread her writing.

Well, Camden believed it, and the girls get along great now. They’re both learning quite a bit about God in Sunday school. You know Sunday school, right? It’s where kids go while the adults are in church. I can only pray we soon have a place like that for cell phones. Anyway, I’m worried that their Sunday school teacher may be pouring it on a little thick. For example, Camden and Mary were coloring pictures at my mom’s house.
“Oooh, those are pretty pictures, girls. What’s your favorite color, Mary?”
“Brown, because I like chocolate.”
“What about you, Camden?”
“I don’t have a favorite color, because I don’t want to hurt God’s feelings.”

If that was really her reason, then I don’t think more adorable words have ever been spoken. But I think she may have just wanted to one-up Mary’s answer in the spirit of sister rivalry, in which case it’s adorable as well as hilarious.

Categories: Columns