b Papa Dog's Blog: The Company Picnic/Duck Duck Duck Duck Goose

Papa Dog's Blog

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Saturday, June 18, 2005

The Company Picnic/Duck Duck Duck Duck Goose

Today was the day of the YBW company picnic, and it was Baby Dog’s debut in a work party setting. The festivities were held at Crown Beach Park in Alameda, and featured a catered barbecue. I didn’t quite know what that meant either. But no, really, there were people there with a grill who barbecued for us. Wonderful what they can do nowadays.

As it turned out, Baby Dog wasn’t the smallest one there. One of my orkers brought his four-month-old son along. Four months old and nineteen pounds. Near as big as Baby Dog, but still clearly an infant rather than a Baby. We’ve long since lost the “littlest baby in the room” title, but at gatherings like this we still have the “newly interactive” market cornered.

Baby Dog’s big moment came when she played her first (sort of) game of catch, with Dan the Chemist’s wife. More “pass” than “catch,” really. Mrs. Dan was sitting at one of the picnic tables and had a baseball. I was standing nearby holding Baby Dog. Feeling guilty that we hadn’t thought to bring any of her toys, I asked Mrs. Dan if Baby Dog could play with the baseball. Mrs. Dan passed the ball to Baby Dog, paused a moment, then asked “Can I have that back?” Reluctantly, Baby Dog parted with the ball, but immediately Mrs. Dan said, “Here, would you like it back again?” This went back and forth a couple of times and then the idea bulb went off over Baby Dog’s head. You could literally see the comprehension dawning on her, understanding how the game worked. She started offering the ball to Mrs. Dan without being asked for it. They passed it back and forth about twenty or thirty times. Baby Dog would have kept at it all day, but Daddy needed a cold drink. (“Gettin’ a cold drink here, boss.” “Get your cold drink, Dragline.”*)

Baby Dog proved unexpectedly helpful at one point when the orker organising the entertainment came around trying to dragoon people for the three-legged race. I held the little girl up and said, “It wouldn’t be fair. I have four.”

After the picnic, we were on our way to Merritt Bakery to order Baby Dog’s birthday cake** when a series of unanticipated events led to a very pleasant side trip. First, it occurred to us partway there that neither of us really knew how to get to the bakery from downtown Oakland. I knew that if you drove up Broadway (or Webster, I think, we were on) you had to turn right at some particular point to go under some overpass thingy and be deposited on the correct side of the lake. Unfortunately, I couldn’t remember which street that right comes on. Eventually, we went north until the lake came in sight and hove that way. Unfortunately, the streets aren’t laid out to make it that easy. After encountering several wrong-way one-ways, we decided to just go around the lake the long way, and even then we suddenly hit a point where the lake was no longer in sight. Taking a page from Mama Dog’s book, I did what she calls “using the Force,” and said “Turn right here.” Turn right she did, and presently the lake was once again in view. Also in view were a bunch of Canada geese*** from Lake Merritt Wildlife Sanctuary. Knowing that Baby Dog would go bananas for this, Mama Dog said, “Should we stop and show her?” “Yes,” I replied with unwonted emphasis, and just then we saw a parking space, right there on the edge of the lake.**** How deuced unlikely. Clearly, it was fate. We parked, I got Baby Dog out of the car seat, and we tromped over the grass to the dozens-strong gaggle honking by the edge of the shore. We were stepping gingerly around the bird poop before Baby Dog grasped what she was seeing, but once she did, the effect was instantaneous. She shrieked, starting waving her arms and legs in uncontrollable excitement, and yelling “Duck! Duck! Duck! Duck!” Mama Dog got a good shot of us in front of the geese, Baby Dog on my knees, hands thrust wildly out, suddenly motivated to stand up straight, a thing we’re having a hell of a time teaching her to do. I’d reproduce the photo here, but our faces are visible so forget it. It was definitely a MasterCard moment.
*Fabulous prize to the first person to correctly identify the reference. Bonus points if you don’t Google. (It’s not an exact quote anyway.)
**Don’t tell her, but it’s going to feature a duck.
***Or, as I like to call them, “The Old Country geese.”
****We were on the far shore of the lake from this picture, right in front of the looming old edifice that Kenilu calls “stately Wayne Manor” or, more informally, “Batman’s house.”


Blogger Judy said...

Fun times! Kids at picnics can be tons of fun! I'm anxious for my little guy to get to that point!

9:23 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

* Cool Hand Luke, I think. Oddly enough, that is the second Cool Hand Luke reference to impact my retinas within a span of less than ten minutes, after better than a decade off the radar.

10:53 PM  

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