Anyway, Thursdays are Chapel Days at his school, and Robert and I accompanied him this morning, marveling (again) that giant bolts of lightning didn't plunge through the ceiling and take us both out. Certainly I have not been the best, most upright and God-fearing of human beings in recent days, which fact is evidenced by the worrisomely low level of Excedrin tablets in my counter-hangover arsenal (also known as Mama's side of the medicine cabinet). And yeah, I have kinda-sorta taken the Lord's name in vain at least a few times, usually when a certain brush-clearer is blathering away on the teevee. Robert? Oh he's been a good boy lately, at least insofar as he'll admit to me. But the sinful stuff he got up to as a young man is pretty outrageous, certainly it's outrageous-with-staying-power; indeed, you'd think God would have a longer memory than this, that He'd take advantage of any number of opportunities to mete out some high-voltage punishment in Robert's direction, or for that matter, mine. The Tampa area is, after all, the lightning capital of the United States, and the very name Tampa is Calusa (a Native American tribe) for "sticks of fire".
After the brief service, parents and students lifted our voices and made noises that were both joyful and reasonably on-key; one of the songs was America, to which tune I quietly sang God save our gracious Queen. I admit I sometimes wonder why God didn't step up to the plate for Princess Di: she was at least trying to do something about getting rid of land mines and increasing AIDS awareness, all the while managing to hold her famous head pretty bloody high despite crippling depression, eating disorders, and intense and unrelenting pressure from a family unparalleled in its control-freakishness by any bunch of relatives in recent history (save perhaps The Sopranos).
The theme of today's sermon had something to do with being content. The pastor asked a general question: If God would grant your wishes this morning, what would you ask for? He then walked around the congregation, proffering his cordless mike to various uniformed Young Ones. I leaned over to Robert and whispered in his ear: World Peace and a Ferrari.
Quoth the first little girl: "I would wish for...Peace on Earth."
Next up was an older boy. "I would ask for a Ferrari."
Never let it be said that I don't have my finger on the collective pulse of youth or that I don't know what's really important in life. Are you listening, God? It's me, Deborah.
Now, the cool thing about Son Three--besides his beautiful eyes, dazzling smile, and brilliant wit, of course--is that his birthday is exactly two weeks before mine. So we start celebrating on September the twenty-seventh, and we don't stop until the New Year (because after my Special Day, there's Hallowe'en, then Thanksgiving, then Christmas...). I've already got Son Three's presents lined up (if not wrapped, not completely anyway) and ready to go for this afternoon, but there are fourteen shopping days left until October the eleventh. Fourteen days that will fly by, at which point everyone will be stumped, since what do you get for the girl who has everything, given that her children are healthy and happy, which is everything, when you think about it?
I may not be from the South (though I live here), and I'm hardly what you'd call a teen, much less a Miss Teen America contestant, but I'm going to say World Peace is right at the top of my Birthday Wish List, and since I do actually know the difference between U.S. Americans and South Africans--and I even have a map in my house (more than one, to be accurate)--I feel it's only fair that this wish be granted. Such as.
So, taking a page from the Book of Rachel*, I'm going to make it easy on everyone this year. Herewith, my Birthday Wish List, with pictorial assistance.
World Peace by Philbert Tiki Yong (age 12) of Malaysia,
for the International Child Art Foundation.
for the International Child Art Foundation.
As long as I'm wishing, I might as well throw in a selfish request: this is a 1969 Ferrari Dino, located in parts unknown (but most likely on the aforementioned as-yet-unpeaceful planet), providing endless hours of automotive pleasure for someone, somewhere:
Should that one prove too difficult to source, Ferrari's 2007 concept-car version will do nicely, too:
And I'll need a place to park it, naturally, a pied-à-terre to which I can invite everyone for tea after visiting the Tate. Somewhere near and dear to my heart, which would've been left in San Francisco had it not, nearly forty-seven years ago, taken up permanent residence in a land that's even foggier:
The 167.97-carat Mackay Emerald, a rather nice gift from man to opera-singer wife in 1931; it now resides under glass.
Unfortunately, procuring that Art Deco gem would require a set of B&E skills beyond the capabilities of most mortals: it's safely locked away in the Smithsonian.
So not the necklace, then.
And come to think of it, those gas-hog Ferraris would be murder on the climate--what good will it do to have peace if we're all underwater? Skip the Belgravia flat, too, at least until such time as Madonna packs up and returns to the States.
That leaves world peace. Because unlike forced liquidity (uh, thanks, Chairman Bernanke) or global warming-induced liquidity, it's something that really will benefit everyone.
So I'll start by wishing you all a joyful, beautiful afternoon on this anniversary of my third son's birth, and I'll continue by trying my best to be content, even as I wish with all my being for meaningful change, for lasting peace, for an end to war and hunger and want--the terrible, real want of so very many--all over the world.
As the pastor said in his concluding remarks this morning: Shalom, my friends.