Flat Stanley meets Owen

Ana and I returned from Boston last Sunday evening after a whirlwind weekend. There was plenty of baby ogling, of course. But also lots of praising and comforting the newly christened parents, Dan and Stacey:
Green poop? “Yup, it’s normal.” Painful swelling of the booby melons? “Yeah, that’s pretty common.” Hairy back? “Come on, its cute! Adorable! Enjoy the monkey fur while you can.”

–The past, present, and future of the Mann clan

The cutest thing about Owen was way he wore two blue socks on his hands, like mittens. It reminded me of Steve Martin playing the retarded Oklahoman in “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels”–“Why is the cork on the fork?” The reason for the socks, my sister told us, was that on Owen’s first night at home, he put his teeny-weenie hands to his face and began rubbing his eyes. It was cute for about a minute, until Stacey saw that he was digging in deep. She said that it looked like he was jamming his fingers under his eyelids, like an infant Oedipus. Suddenly the adorable little digits, with their unclipped newborn nails, had become hideous eye gougers. Understandably, Stacey freaked and vowed to never permit the use of hands or fingers ever again. When my mom suggested this might not be practical in the not-so-distant future, when the baby starts eating, Stacey said that she’d consider granting finger privileges if, and only if, baby Owen could demonstrate that he’d grown to appreciate the responsibility.

–Stacey teaches Owen that opposable thumbs are a blessing, not a curse.

On the way up to Boston, we stopped in Greenwich and Westchester, and had a chance to check out–rather, lust after–the Tudor house that my brother and his wife just purchased. Their soon-to-be home is in White Plains, and though I can’t profess to know much about the town, the neighborhood was adorable–diverse housing stock, nice tree-lined streets, and, unless I’m imaging things, the same one that Monica and Chandler moved to. It’s amazing how in one year my brother can go from being unemployed and living in an apartment with two cats, to being a product manager living at a charming suburban house with twin baby girls. It’s not exactly the $150 million jackpot, but damn close–if not better.

There was one other, less honorable, motive behind our trip: The need to document, and have, an adventure for Flat Stanley. Who, pray tell, is Flat Stanley? According to the letter we got from Ana’s niece, Olivia, he’s a man with a briefcase, who was squashed “as flat as a pancake” when a bulletin board fell on him.

–Olivia’s letter, explaining the tragedy of and instructions for Flat Stanley. Take note of the postscript: “CAUTION: DO NOT LET SCOUT OR FUZZY GET STANLEY!!!!”

–Owen and Stanley share some QT

Why they’re telling this disturbing story to third graders is beyond me. Maybe it’s to prepare them for the inevitably disturbing real-life stories of bulletin boards falling on prisoners in Iraqi jails. Whatever the reason, Stanley and the accompanying letter were as charming as a koala in a top hat. Apparently he’s become this Harry Potter-like phenomenon in grade schools; a quick Google revealed hundreds of Stanley stories, told by just about every grade schooler from here to Honolulu. There was even one account of Stanley’s trip to the White House, where he encountered a kindred spirit.

Some more of Flat Stanley’s adventures in Greenwich and Boston:

–James, my cousin Jay’s delinquent son, prepares to flush Stanley down the toilet.

–A water-warped Stanley air-dries.

–Baby Winifred attempts to eat Flat Stanley, mistaking him for avocado.

–Stanley hides behind Baby Francesca.

–Ana shares some prime property on her chest with Owen and Stanley.