b Papa Dog's Blog: mmmmmmmmm….BOOGAH!

Papa Dog's Blog

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Wednesday, January 12, 2005


It’s not really that big a trick to make a baby laugh, but Baby Dog so far is kind of a discriminating audience. She’ll smile readily, and she’ll squawk in a way that might be delight or might be distress (it’s sometimes kind of hard to tell); but the actual laughs are relatively few and far between. Her laugh is thoroughly charming, I think. It’s not an unrestrained senseless giggle. There’s something sly about it, something – dare I say? – hip. She sounds like she’s laughing at something so dumb it’s funny. “I can’t believe you find it amusing to make fart noises at me, Father,” she seems to be saying, “but your faith that it will make me laugh paints quite a comic portrait of your frail human aspirations.” The way that comes out of her mouth is something like, “A-hah.” Or, when I am giving her particularly great ironic enjoyment, “A-hah-hah-hah.” Sometimes, there’s a questioning note to it. “A-hah?” Like, “Am I supposed to find that funny? Okay, I’ll take your word for it.”

Last night at dinner, we were for some reason serving up comic gold. Sometime back – I can’t place when – one or the other of us started saying “booga booga booga” to Baby Dog in an effort to amuse her. I don’t think she got the joke at first, but we kept repeating it, and now she seems to find it risible. I think it’s kind of like that David Letterman technique of repeating some meaningless phrase over and over again until it becomes funny. Letterman used to be able to do that with just a few repetitions. For us, “booga” has taken some months getting there. So last night, Baby Dog was being cranky at dinnertime (ours, not hers). Mama Dog said “booga booga” and Baby Dog laughed. I made “tok tok tok” noises with my tongue on the roof of my mouth and Baby Dog laughed at that too. I popped a finger in my cheek and she laughed. Then I decided to get into the “booga booga” action. I looked at her sideways and, in a normal tone of voice, I said “boogah.” To my surprise, she laughed. I looked directly at her and said, a little louder, “Boogah!” and was rewarded with an “A-hah-hah!” Then I took a deep breath, got my voice as deep and resonant as it goes – and I have a pretty deep and resonant voice to begin with – and, trying to sound like Buster Poindexter if not Louis Armstrong, gave her a great huge “mmmmmmmmm….BOOGAH!” That got me three “A-hah-hah-hahs” linked together, which is Baby Dog’s equivalent of a standing o. Instead of taking a bow, I did encores, three more mmmmmmmmm….BOOGAHs, with steadily increasing responses. Then, changing things up, I whispered “boogah,”

and Baby Dog still laughed largely. For her.

Boogahs and laughter continued all the way to bedtime. She lay down in her crib grinning exultantly and eager for more. It was sad to put her to bed when she was having fun, but it was well past her bedtime and she needed her sleep.

I swear. I’m looking forward to teaching her knock-knock jokes.


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