Sunday, April 25, 2010

Putting my Foot in my Mouth

belt on hook, balanced on finger

Family get-togethers are always a great time for saying what should not be said. This one was in honor of my father’s 4th 90th birthday party. He proudly told the assembled guests that he’d had the 1st 90th birthday party in California where his son and daughter live. Yes, my sister and brother live in CA, but what am I?

My father is NOT senile. Later he showed a little more awareness of who I am. He talked about research to develop a vaccine against salmonella, and his exercise program. At 90, he’s finally doing exercise. He goes 3 times a week to a physical therapist who trains athletes. He bragged that he is the trainer’s oldest client. He uses the treadmill and he pulls weights. He looks better than he has in years.

The topic changed to Roswell, and my father asked me, “Have you ever met an alien?”
I know my father. This is his idea of a trick question. If I said, “Yes,” he’d ask how I was sure the creature was an alien. If I said, “No,” he’d ask how I was sure that all the creatures I’ve ever met were guaranteed not to be alien. If I said, “I don’t know,” he’d tell me to find out.

So, I said, “I am an alien.” He did not respond.

Later, during my magic show, I incorporated some science. I’m fascinated by a plastic hook that will balance on the end of a finger IFF you hang a belt from it. The effect looks totally improbable. The hook extends from the end of the finger and a belt hangs from the far end.

My husband loaned his belt for the occasion and I put the belted hook on my father’s extended finger. My father said it must be a helium belt. I asked if I could borrow my father’s belt. He refused. I asked if any body else in the room would loan a belt. No offers. I took off the belt and dropped it. It fell to the floor. So did the hook, which will not balance without the belt hanging from it. A helium belt should have floated to the ceiling. My father would not admit defeat.

Then my father said it was his magnetic personage. One of my cousins agreed to try balancing the belted hook on her finger. Again, it balanced. My cousin was sure that she was not magnetic. My father went back to insisting the belt was made of helium. I’m sure this was his idea of a scientific joke.

He was less interested in the obvious magic – ropes that change length, ropes that heal themselves after they’ve been cut. He wanted me to make a rope disappear. I haven’t mastered that trick yet.

Then somehow the show became my grandchildren showing off. My grand daughter read a poem. Then she and my grandson started competing at physical stunts. They can wrap their legs around each other. They can do athletic poses like plank. I started feeling silly. I asked if they could put their feet in their mouths. My grand daughter can. My grandson wanted to know if I could put my feet in my mouth.

My daughter has a no-shoes household. My shoes were already off. I had no excuse. That’s one flexibility task I was never asked to do in physical therapy or in yoga. But I could do it as a child.

I knew there was no chance with my left foot, and the limited range of motion in my left hip from being hit by a car. But the right foot was a possibility. I picked up my right foot. The toes went easily into my mouth.

Now, if anybody asks if I put my foot in my mouth at the family gather, I can proudly say, “Yes.”


  1. "What am I, chopped chicken liver?" No, you are an alien. You should have mentioned that you are also married to one. The belt trick has to do with center of gravity, right? AND...I bet you could try with the left foot and get farther than you think. You are so amazing, G-C. I bow in honor to you.

  2. Alison, the belt trick seems to work by the belt and the hook pulling in opposing directions. The pull on the belt is straight down and the pull on the hook is at an angle. The opposing forces seem to keep either from falling. This is the magic belt hook from
    I did try my left foot when I got home. I can get it within about 18 inches of my mouth.

  3. When my son was little he bit his toenails (also fingernails). No trouble getting them in his mouth. By the time he was maybe 10, though, he bit too deep and got ingrown toenails from them being too short. We went to a podiatrist and he got cured of biting his toenails when the doctor did surgery (in effect) without any anesthesia! He had to pull the pieces of the nails that were ingrown, out. It hurt but not outrageously. It cured the ingrown toenails and they didn't come back. My son didn't bite them any more.

  4. Cool that your son gave up toenail biting so easily!