Thursday, October 26, 2017

Zoe vs. the JFK Assassination Papers. Plus Other Conspiracies Whose Secrets Are Now Revealed!

It may seem far-fetched that a seven-year-old girl from Brooklyn could be the force behind one of the biggest conspiracies of the past century. Mainly because she wasn't born yet. Then again, this is a child who somehow ends up with two pieces of gum when I offer her one, so she's skilled at misdirection.
I know going from sneaking gum to global destabilization may seem like a jump, but hear me out. We all knew Dominion Over All was in her sights from the beginning.
Since the government announced they would be releasing the final files regarding JFK's assassination on October 26th, Zoe has been furtive and nervous, biting her fingernails, then suddenly getting distracted by a TV commercial before continuing to bite her nails.
Honestly, I'm not sure which of us has been acting more paranoid. Zoe's bemoaned my lack of transparency since that time I hid carrots in the tomato sauce. And after the first time something fell in her room, and I said, "What was that?" and Zoe said, "Nothing," but as it turned out it was something, I haven't trusted her either.
Looking back, I suppose I haven't trusted her since she began walking. (This is not to say that the way she used to roll herself over in the Pack 'n Play was above suspicion.)
As soon as Zoe could walk, the first thing she went for was my phone. Suspicious, right? Who was she going to call? She didn't know anyone's number.
Or so I thought. . . .
I'd get the phone away from her quickly, but a few times after I got it back I'd notice an app was missing. And I could never remember which one; I only knew something was gone because of the empty space on my home page. 
This was my first hint that she had deep background in CIA mind control.

JFK, Area 51


Everyone knows the conspiracy theories surrounding JFK's assassination on November 22, 1963. The suspected architects behind the assassination have been, variously, the CIA, the Mafia, LBJ, the KGB, or a mix of all of those. Very few people mention aliens. Could that be by design?
More on that later, but suffice it to say that if you believe we've been visited by aliens and have been reverse engineering alien technology including time machines since the crash in Roswell in 1947, the idea that Zoe could be a time-traveling alien/assassin starts to make a lot of sense.
After all, I was pretty drugged the day she was born, so who knows what might've happened. I've seen Rosemary's Baby. Crazy stuff can and does occur.
Back to JFK. You'll notice there was one name I didn't mention, someone else who may have been behind the assassination: Fidel Castro. However, some people think that when the papers are released, we'll find what the government was really hiding, that the CIA wasn't targeting JFK; they were targeting another world leader, Castro. 
By now you can see where I'm going with this.
Numerology.
It is now almost 54 years since JFK was assassinated. Fidel Castro died last year, 11/25/16, which is not just 53 years after JFK's death but if you add the numbers in the date, you get 52, which is just one more than 51, clearly pointing to Area 51, where the remains of the alien spaceship that allegedly crashed in Roswell were allegedly taken.
Now these aliens were supposedly from the Zeta Reticuli star system, or, ZR. Guess whose middle name is Ryan, meaning Zoe's initials are also ZR? The evidence of her alien origins was mounting!
It was becoming clear that my daughter was actually an ancient alien being who either looks like a little blond-haired girl or has time-traveled since she was "born" and went back in time to assassinate JFK and pin it on Lee Harvey Oswald, who, if we rearrange the letters in his name, we get "VERY OLD SEA WHALE." And as we all know since Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, whales are on a conversational footing with aliens. Boom!

aliens
Blond hair, check. Bangs, check. Glowing eyes, unconfirmed.

But who's behind it all? Don't buy those stories about the Reptilian Elite; that's just ridiculous. I mean, look at their spokesman/patsy, Barney the Dinosaur.
Could it be the aliens from Zeta Reticuli? And are they acting alone or with some sinister group of humans or alien-human hybrids? Perhaps the rumored Majestic-12, the powerful figures in business and government who, it is said, truly run the world.
Is it mere coincidence that adding up the single digits in Zoe's date of birth, 8/30/10, yields the number 12? You be the judge. (But no.)
The only reasonable conclusion is that the lion's share of the mysterious goings-on of the past century have been spearheaded by a cute second-grader with a dark secret, but she's about to be found out, as soon as someone can wade through those thousands of pages of unredacted documents.
Not me, though; I'm too busy trying to restore some apps on my phone.
P.S. Zoe faked the Moon Landing.

One of her many disguises. Cuteness is the most dangerous weapon in her arsenal.


Zoe: 173; Universe: rigged


If you enjoyed this post, you may like Zoe vs. My Smartphone.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

Resist the consensus reality!
 Click here to subscribe. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Zoe vs. Boredom . . . Again

Today we're discussing one of life's greatest mysteries. First, a quote I saw this week:
The cure for boredom is curiosity.
Like most children,  Zoe is curious. So why, like most children, is Zoe so often bored?
Two Zoe quotes on boredom:
I'm sooooooo bored.
When I'm bored I sit doing nothing, and that makes me sad and angry.
I say the usual supportive things like: "If you're bored, you can help me fold laundry." Or: "Read a book."
That's her cue to throw herself down on whatever surface is near where I'm folding laundry and cry.
Even Meryl Streep couldn't fake how unsympathetic I am to her plight, so you'd think she'd know better by now.

Boredom for children
Boy from the Land of Stock Photos of Bored Children Staring Out Windows. See the girl here.

It amazes me how she can be bored with All The Things. She has even more venues for entertainment than existed when I was a Kid with a Ton of Toys Who Yet Managed to Complain of Boredom.
Besides the multitude of dolls, vehicles, and action figures, there are the games she plays online, not to mention the games she watches other people play online. Seeing her so distraught makes me want to put on my cranky old-man voice and begin a lecture starting with those three little words: In my day . . .
In my day, even Disney World wasn't as DISNEY WORLD as it is now.

Can a Child Be Bored in Disney World?
Disney World is not just where dreams come true; it's also where our nation's most talented boredomologists have done ground-breaking work.
When I was a kid, the lines for rides at Disney had a unique production value---important to keep tiny impatient guests occupied---but now they're even MORE SO. Of the myriad articles on traveling to Disney World, many have recommendations for how you should allocate your Fast Passes based on which lines have the most entertainment value!
So even for the rides with longer waits, Zoe had little opportunity to remember to tell me about her deep-seated, constant companion, boredom.
Even the waiting area for one of the buses had a tic tac toe beanbag toss game and hula hoops as if no one could be alone with their thoughts for even a minute lest we realize how insane and/or expensive the Disney Experience was.
I suspect that if she'd worked harder at it, Zoe could have been bored at Disney.

Preparing the Next Generation for the Casino-Dwelling Lifestyle
The other day I decided to download a video game to my phone. Must've been curiosity because I refuse to admit boredom. I looked for a game I'd played almost twenty years before that was no-frills, mindless, and cute---the need-trifecta for my nightly commute. The updated version is miles away from the simple version I'd enjoyed in 1999. It's like Candy Crush as compared to Pong. The new version is just so much MORE. More movement and bursts of light and music. Plus rewards in the form of floating treasure chests that emit fireworks before opening to reveal a prize. I was playing to calm my mind not give it a seizure.
Plus it's addicting. Like a gambler, you're always chasing that high of clearing the next level of shiny cute things.
After playing one evening, I looked up to find it was midnight and wondered how that had happened. I felt like a toddler after caffeine, sugar, presents, and a personal phone call from Queen Elsa wishing me a happy birthday.
With games like these, it's no surprise Zoe is easily bored. If something in front of her isn't ringing or jumping or blowing up it's not stimulating enough. No wonder sitting quietly with her thoughts is so unmooring.
Hanging out with Glacial Mommy who exhorts her to read just can't compete. Maybe I should put a bell around my neck, dress only in primary colors, and throw glitter in the air every time she says my name.

On Appreciating Boredom
It's no coincidence that "may you live in interesting times" is a curse. As you get older and you become more exposed to the slings and arrows of life, you may even grow fond of boredom.
The weekend before our trip to Disney, there was a fire in the apartment building next door. Alarms and fire trucks and breaking glass. So loud I was worried Zoe would wake up, and I needed her rested since we had a full day of laundry and packing ahead of us.
The fire was on my side of the street so I could only see the reflection in the windows across the way in addition to the neighbors who'd come outside to watch. Zoe did not wake up and eventually I went to bed.
The next day after doing some packing---boring!---I thought I'd take Zoe out. When we passed the apartment building that had the fire, Zoe asked what had happened. 
I told her about the fire.
I'm glad no one was hurt, she said with innocent confidence.
Though her made-up games are often very violent, Zoe has no real concept of tragedy. It never entered her mind that a person could have been killed, had been killed, in fact, something her mother knew having heard it on the local morning news.
I wasn't going to tell her though, and a moment later, she ran ahead of me. I warned her to watch out for driveways, a reflex, a product of that constant low-level song in my brain listing potential threats.
I was looking forward to an uneventful trip to the drugstore after which we'd go home to finish packing.
Zoe: 172; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may like Zoe vs. Boredom: In Which a Child's Ennui Becomes Tedious

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

Make your life more interesting:
 Click here to subscribe. 

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Zoe vs. the Average Lifespan of the North American Carnival-Prize Goldfish

People think that when Dickens wrote "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times" he was inspired by the French Revolution, but that's not true. It's a little-known fact that months before beginning A Tale of Two Cities, he penned that line at an Amusements Faire after Charles Jr. won a goldfish on the midway.
I'm guessing that he also uttered some Victorian curse words. Because, though it may have caused his child joy, every parent knows there's no greater sorrow than your child winning a goldfish at a fair.

Winning a goldfish at a fair


Last Friday, Zoe was off school for Rosh Hashanah, so naturally we went to a Greek festival, and there she saw that booth, you know the one, where you can win a goldfish if you throw a Ping-Pong ball into a bowl. I remember doing this as a kid. And most of the time, if the ball went in the bowl, it bounced right out again.
Zoe wanted to do it. The odds were she wouldn't win, but there was always a chance, so I shelled out the five bucks . . . and then silently rooted against my only child.
I lost, twice over, because Zoe won TWO goldfish.

My own checkered history with goldfish:
5 deaths, one by fire (I'm not making that up.)

Almost immediately I began preparing Zoe for their demise. Especially since we had a cat.
Let's call them Meal 1 and Meal 2, I said. She laughed. Luckily she had my dark sense of humor.
I said if they made it a week, we'd upgrade their names to Miracle 1 and Miracle 2. Oh, how we laughed!
When we got home, I filled the cheap tank I'd shelled out another ten bucks for with water and served up a pinch of that papery food they'd given us for "free" inside one of those mini plastic containers, the ones that usually hold the soy sauce you dip your sushi in. The irony was thick!

Saturday and Sunday
The whole weekend we were busy with the usual things, though I did change the tap water---some of you are already cringing---every day since I saw how quickly it was getting cloudy and hard to see the goldfish through the murk.
Though maybe it would've been better if they weren't visible, considering our cat Cooper's dishonorable intentions.*





Monday, 1 p.m.
While I ate my lunch at work, I looked up how to take care of God's most pitiful creations. Since they'd made it this far, I figured I'd get some tips. I made the mistake of going to an article on PETA's website, which is when I found out what a horrible person I was. 
You know those videos people take of their friends watching a scary movie with bowls of popcorn in their laps, or maybe watching an episode of Game of Thrones just before an upsetting death? This was me reading about taking care of goldfish.
First thing I discovered was that tap water was basically toxic for goldfish! I gasped and lurched back, spilling some of my metaphorical popcorn.
Tap water has chlorine and other chemicals that burn their gills. That meant that each breath they'd been taking since Friday was agony!
I read on and learned that when you changed the water you had to make sure the temperature change wasn't too shocking (gasp!)
And you shouldn't just dump them unceremoniously in a holding container and dump them back into the tank again because this stressed them out (!!)
And how about oxygen in the water? One way you could tell they were having trouble breathing was if they lingered near the top of the tank.
Metaphorical popcorn everywhere!
Was I an animal torturer? Would these goldfish be my gateway murders on the road to becoming a serial killer? 
According to PETA, these goldfish needed a bigger tank, about twenty different filters, and a daily measuring of PH balance. I was surprised they didn't also need mini-defibrillators and an on-call therapist due to all the stress.
The one thing they had going for them was that they had company. A buddy. Though as Cooper lurked nearby I imagined their conversations thusly:
Meal 2: OMG, that cat's looking at us again, Meal 1!
Meal 1: Why am I Meal 1? I think you're Meal 1.
Meal 2: Oh sure, you just can't wait to get rid of me. Gary warned me you were like this, but did I listen? No!
You may ask how I knew which one was Meal 1 and Meal 2. Well, Meal 2 was definitely more nervous than Meal 1. When Cooper came close to the tank, Meal 2 "reacted" by zooming around, on alert, while Meal 1 just kept still. Now I'm not sure which one's strategy was better, or if Meal 1's lethargy just meant it was closer to death.

Monday, 6 p.m.
I went to the pet store on the way home and bought a solution to add to tap water to remove chlorine.

Monday, 6:15 p.m.
I was too late. Meal 2 (or was it 1?) was dead.
Meal 1 (or 2) really needed therapy now, having spent however many hours swimming in a small tank with the corpse of its companion, and---though their relations had been strained of late---really only friend, floating above him.
Anyway I dumped the body in an unmarked grave, aka the trash, and changed the death water, adding a teaspoon of the pet store's solution.

Tuesday, 7:30 p.m.
Meal 1 (or 2) was still alive! Could the solution be working?

Wednesday, 6:30 a.m.
No. Meal 1 (or 2) was dead.
Perhaps the solution hadn't worked or perhaps it had been too late.
Maybe Meal 1 (or 2) missed its friend, having spent the previous thirty-six hours alone but occasionally rushing into the glass, repeatedly mistaking its own reflection for Meal 2 (or 1), resulting in flashbacks about the hours spent with its corpse, all while each labored breath it took burned its gills.
As I watched Meal 1 float at the top of the tank, mouth open, expression stupid yet tragic, Zoe came in, and we had a teachable moment as she asked: "Is that what a dead fish looks like?"
I put my hand on her shoulder, patted it gently, and said, "Sure is, baby."
We lowered our heads. Because Cooper was rubbing himself against our legs. With a certain smugness, I felt.

Happy day!
Happier Times! Well, I don't know if the fish were happy,
so maybe . . . Alive Times!

Hopefully Meal 1 is now in a far far better place.
Metaphorically.
Literally, he or she's in the trash. Sorry, PETA. I tried. Sort of.

Zoe: 171; Universe: 0

*If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen my post about how we thought the tank was leaking, but it wasn't. We realized that, overnight, Cooper had gotten up on Zoe's dresser and batted the tank around, thus the water all over. So we moved the tank to our dresser instead because it was harder for Cooper to get to. And he really tried!


For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

I'm not saying my murders will escalate if you don't read my blog, 
but I'm also not saying they won't.
 Click here to subscribe. 


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Zoe vs. the Pinterest Fail. Or, My Second-Ever Recipe Post

First, apologies for being gone from the blog so long. I imagine you were all pining away. It's weird all those search parties you guys must've sent out weren't able to find me. (Just let me have this!)
Not only was I on an official vacation for one of those weeks, but I was lazy the other weeks, and I'm afraid that took all my focus and strength.
And, as it turns out, I needed as much strength as I could get, because last week I decided to make Dragon Fire Cupcakes for Zoe's 7th birthday party.

Pinterest Fail! Recipe post

Zoe loves dragons. She has all the Lego Elves dragon sets, tons of books about dragons, zillions of stuffed dragons, and even a dragon figurine I bought in Epcot's English Pavilion that has a gem for its perch. Zoe swooned when she saw it as gems are her second favorite thing.
Maybe she actually is a dragon.
In any case, I am not a Pinteresty/arts-and-crafty/cake-from-scratchy kind of mom/person. But I came across Dragon Fire Cupcakes on the Internet and thought, These don't look like they'd be too hard to make!
Plus, hey, you only live once, so you might as well torture yourself to please a seven-year-old who hasn't learned empathy yet!
This was my first time using a pastry bag to apply icing. Previously I'd only ever used the tried-and-true dull-knife method.
And I needed to apply three different colors of icing: red, orange, and yellow, the main three colors comprising "dragon fire"---as every pastry chef and seven-year-old knows.
I'll share the recipe below but for now I'll just jump ahead to the tragic display of humanity that was me loading a pastry bag with three separate colors and trying to keep them separate and then trying to pump them through the icing-delivery-system nozzle thing that was supposed to create swirls of yummy-tasting, amazing-looking, verisimilitudinous dragon fire.
First of all: Ow.
I now respect pastry chefs a lot more than I did before. Did you know how much hand strength it takes to squeeze buttercream frosting through those icing nozzles? I wouldn't want to make a pastry chef angry is all I'm saying. They could probably crush your throat with one hand. While icing your funeral cupcake with the other.
The second thing I learned, albeit too late to avoid the day's drama, is how to have faith in myself. And by that I mean faith in my estimation of myself, and my skills, including where they fall short. As my inner motivational speaker often says, "Liz, you can't do this, but, sweetie, that's okay, you've got that gum-chewing while walking thing DOWN!" She is supportive but pragmatic.
So after I sloppily loaded the frosting in the pastry bag, getting most of it on my fingers, and pressed the bag down so the colors would feed relatively evenly (spoiler alert: they wouldn't!) I had a feeling, a presentiment really, that the pastry bag would explode, shooting frosting everywhere.
I was half right.
The pastry bag did indeed explode, but the frosting shot out in only one direction, onto my shirt, my dirty, tasty shirt.
I should've noticed that I'd been losing bag integrity, but I'd been so focused on the icing struggle itself. Varying pressure, placement, and wrist flicks be damned, I could not make the cupcakes look like they had on Pinterest.

My Second-Ever Recipe Post
The dream. The mirage. The picture that tempted me,
like flying too close to the sun tempted Icarus.
I couldn't even replicate these cupcakes' lighting. So pretty!

I'd watched five damn YouTube tutorials on icing cupcakes. How did they make it look so easy? Why didn't they warn me it was harder than it looked? How did that one lady ice cupcakes while wearing trumpet sleeves? Trumpet. Sleeves.
So the result was not what I'd hoped, and it took me so long I was unable to finish before Zoe came back from an outing with the Husband.
When she came in, she saw the sugary crime scene, and looked at me like, Explain.
I told her I was making Dragon Fire Cupcakes for her birthday and she looked at the cupcakes for a few moments before turning back to me, and patting my frosting-covered hand, she said, "You can't be good at everything, Mommy. At least you tried."
Empathy, after all.

Dragon Fire Cupcakes (as made by me)
Step 1: Buy a cake mix from the store and make the damn cupcakes. I did Devil's Food because that's the alias chocolate uses when it wants to seem "street." 
Step 2: Buy pre-made buttercream frosting, icing-delivery nozzles, pastry bags (I bought ten; I'm not going to tell you how many I went through icing 23* cupcakes because I like to keep a little mystery alive), food dye in red, orange, and yellow.
Step 3: Go back to store because you mistakenly bought two oranges and zero yellow.
Step 4: Watch online tutorials on how to add color to your buttercream frosting. Then do that part, after washing your cereal bowl from breakfast because you only had two clean bowls and you'll need three (which later turns out to be four).
Step 5: Watch online tutorials for how to load a pastry bag in general and how to load a pastry bag with three different colors. Try doing that. Get frosting all over your hands. Clean hands and watch another tutorial. Try again. Same result. Sigh. Press on. Literally. Clean up after bag explodes. Wonder why only the red's coming out. Make some red cupcakes. Why do the cupcakes look like they lost a silly-string fight instead of like they are made of dragon fire? Try a different nozzle. Not getting any better. Try different wrist movements. Visualize the word "finesse." Scoop frosting off cupcakes and get another bowl and then load that mixed-color frosting into a new pastry bag.
Step 6: Remember perfect is the enemy of good and decide that perfect cupcakes are as mythical as dragons. AKA, you're done.
Step 7: Load the cupcakes in an aluminum foil tray figuring that if they get messed up in transport you can blame how they look on that.**

Multiple choice. This cupcake feels:
a) underdressed, b) left out, or c) spared a weird fate?

* 23 because I left the 24th plain, or so I claimed; really I forgot to take it out of the pan.
**Probably my best baking tip.

You guys! Are you a lady who lives in the NY/NJ area? Need a night out? This Saturday night me and some friends are celebrating the release of Jen Mann of People I Want to Punch in the Throat's new book: Working with People I Want to Punch in the Throat: Cantankerous Clients, Micromanaging Minions, and Other Supercilious ScourgesJen Mann will be there and wants to see all of you! 

So please find some pants---whether jeans, sweats, or a tasteful pair of slacks---and join us for a fun night of tons of laughs. Tickets are $20 bucks and that gets you a signed copy of WWPIWTPITT (it's just too long to type again), food and drinks, and a raffle entry. Join us for a night of hilarious readings, a little shopping, and more! 

Saturday, September 23rd, 6 - 9 pm at the Madison Community House in Madison, NJ. 

(If you end up in Madison, Wisconsin, you went too far!)

Hosted by: Kim Bongiorno

Yours truly will be speaking along with other local authors who have contributed to Jen's 5-book New York Times bestselling I Just Want to Pee Alone humor anthology series, including:

Kim Bongiorno of Let Me Start By Saying
https://www.facebook.com/LetMeStartBySayingBlog/
http://letmestartbysayingblog.com/

Stacey Gill of One Funny Motha
https://www.facebook.com/StaceyGillInk/
http://onefunnymotha.com/

Jennifer Lizza of Outsmarted Mommy
https://www.facebook.com/JenniferLizzaWriter/
http://www.outsmartedmommy.com/

Elly Lonon of Buggin’ Word
https://www.facebook.com/EllyLononWriter/
http://bugginword.com/

Jen Simon
https://www.facebook.com/jensimonwriter
http://jensimonwriter.com/

Shya Gibbons of Vintage Dreams With A Modern Twist
www.facebook.com/VintageDreamsWithAModernTwist
https://vintagedreamswithamoderntwist.wordpress.com/

Zoe: 170; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may like my first-ever recipe post,
creatively named Zoe vs. the Recipe Post.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

I promise that even if this blog someday explodes in your face, it will taste like ruined Dragon Fire Cupcakes, which actually tasted pretty good, considering.
 Click here to subscribe. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Zoe vs. the Non-Canonical Miss Mary Mack

The other night when I picked Zoe up from camp, she said she was going to teach me a song called "Miss Mary Mack." I told her I knew that song and had myself sung it on the playground when I was a child.
So we started to sing it together. When we got to the part about the boys pulling down their pants, I thought, "Here's where things get awkward," but they didn't. And you probably know why. Because instead of Miss Mary Mack borrowing fifty cents from her mother to see "the boys pull down their pants," the real line was "see the elephants jump over a fence." Hmmm.
"Is that how they told you it goes?" I asked her. She looked at me like, how else would it go?


We went back to singing it her way, and when I got home I ran straight to the Source of All Knowledge, aka Google, and found out the song I'd sung as a child was wrong. The official, canonical, version across the Internets had elephants. I even asked a friend to see what she remembered, elephants or pants-dropping boys. Also elephants.
I guess I shouldn't have been surprised. I went to a Catholic grade school  in 1980s Queen and changing a playground song to include slightly scandalous body humor was of a piece with that.
Besides, there is no "canon" when it comes to childhood songs. As long as children sing in playgrounds their songs will vary according to time and place.
One thing I know for sure, though, is I now have to use the word "canon" or "canonical" in regard to these songs because someone on a website did, and since that's absurd, it's my favorite. "Goddammit, Martha, it's Diggy Diggy Diamond, STEP right in. Diggy Diggy Diamond, STEP right out. Not hop, not slide, not place your foot, STEP!---for it is canon!"
You're probably aware that the histories of many of these childhood songs are steeped in horror and violence. "London Bridge"---Anne Boleyn, "Ring Around the Rosy"---the plague. And then there are the ones rooted in racism (I'd point the finger at you, "Eeny Meeny Miney Mo," but you'd just think I was playing).
According to one source, "Miss Mary Mack" is a reference to a Civil War ironclad warship on the Union side called the Merrimack (black with silver rivets). And so elephants were a reference to Republican Northerners and the fence stood for the Mason-Dixon line. Certainly sounds plausible.
Still, I was curious if that was the whole story, and if Miss Mary Mack was also a person.
In my research I'd come across many images of a little girl dressed in black and realized another of my childhood misconceptions was that Miss Mary Mack was a widow, a widow who needed to borrow pocket change from her mother. I can't use the excuse of my 1980s Catholic school for this interpretation because I think it was solely mine.
In any case, having reached the limits of space-time and Google, I decided to do what anyone in my position would have done. Summon the spirit of Miss Mary Mack from another dimension.
The following encounter I describe is 100 percent true. (Give or take 100 percent.)(It's "take.")
That night I waited till late, after the Husband and Zoe were asleep, and then I went in the bathroom, closed the door, and locked it. Then, looking into the mirror, I recited: "Miss Mary Mack all dressed in black" three times. Then I spun around, also three times, and for good measure finished up with the Hokey Pokey.
Almost instantaneously a woman appeared in the mirror. She looked either like an old woman with a child's face or a child with an old woman's face. She was not in black but appeared to be wearing a floral muumuu.
"Miss Mary Mack?" I asked.
"I go by Ms. now," she replied. "And as you can see, I don't wear black anymore. And the silver buttons have been replaced with zippers and sometimes Velcro, cause who's got time for that?"
"True."
"Quacka dilly oh so what do you want?"
"Well, I wanted to know if you started off as a real person or a ship."
"Eeny, Meeny, lemon squeezey."
"That . . . doesn't make sense."
She shrugged, fluttering her muumuu. "Fudge, fudge, call a judge."
"Do you only speak in childhood rhymes?"
"Skidamarinka dinky dink, skidamarinka I don't. I also do stand-up. Here's one I heard from Little Bunny Foo Foo: What time is it when an elephant sits on a fence?"
I stared.
"Time to get a new fence!"
She disappeared from the mirror and I realized she was bent double in silent heaving laughter. Eventually she straightened and wiped her eyes.
"This isn't going like I thought it would," I said.
She pouted sarcastically, "Aw, poor thing wasn't expecting Mary, Mary, quite contrary?"
As I turned to go, she got the parting shot:
"Waddely achee waddeley achee, doodley don't let the door hit you on the way out."
Childhood songs, I had learned, were best left to childhood.

Zoe: 169; Universe: 0
If you enjoyed this post, you may like this one where I take on T. S. Eliot and the Urban Wasteland that is a playground in Brooklyn.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

If you like this blog and you know it, clap your hands, and then right after that click here to subscribe.