I had tons of babysitters growing up. Both my parents worked as soon as they could find fulltime work when we got to this here country. There were the Kims — who had three kids. The father was kind of physically abusive and the oldest girl my age had bad breath. I actually told her mother that (what an ahole. I just wasn’t thinking). Then when I was even younger, there was a Korean couple in our building with two adorable kids younger than me, whom I kept beating up. That couple was interesting, b/c the husband constantly accused his wife of cheating till she burst into tears. This was all in Korean, so I could only absorb the subtext at age 7.

Then there were more cheerful babysitting memories (though the drama scenes of dysfunctional families never really bothered me.) There is, of course, my aunt who saw me like all the time for two years when we lived with her family in Staten Island, and I kind of beat up her kids too. (I had bully/chubby issues as a kid, I think. I was wildly jealous of anyone with a parent around. Today, I no longer beat people up.) There were some young Phillipino women who used to watch me when we lived in the Bronx. Then there were the Sungs. B/c their mom, who I think went to pharm school with my mom, was willing to watch me along with her kids, we moved to NJ (which doesn’t seem to be like the best parameter to be your only for moving to a town in my opinion). And I didn’t really beat her kids up (she had a little girl and boy, both younger than me), but her boy and I fought constantly, driving everyone crazy. God, I hated that boy when I was 9. He would do stuff and say “Hey Yun [my Korean name], your name’s in the dictionary” and he’d point out the word “Yum.” That would make steam come out of my ears. And when his mom would give me a Pepperridge Farm blueberry turnover before going to school (second breakfast, nobody knew, mum’s the word) or her costume jewelry, it would be his turn to flip out.

But the best parts of those days were when the three of us would plan spectacular stunts. I don’t know, stupid stuff, like daring each other to run past the neighbor’s dog or like staircase Olympics. In their house, there was a long stair case, the bottom of which met the front door, and we would slide down on our bums and get rug burn over and over again. Or we would drag the large pillows from the living room couch and pool them at the bottom of the stairs leap from the top. When Mrs. Sung came home and couldn’t open the door (wedged shut by sofa pillows), we had to stop. Someone taped Xanadu, Superman with Christopher Reeves, and Clash of the Titans from HBO that summer and we watched them over and over again. I don’t know why the hell we did that b/c those movies are not that good. So much about being little I remember as a battle not get bored.

11 Replies to “Babysitters”

  1. Ooohhhh! Don’t let JJ see this blog. You have just blasphemed one of his all time favorite movies. He just saw the Broadway version — for god’s sake!! — with “a huge smile from ear to ear.”

  2. happyhappy bday to you,

    I went to the zoo

    I stared for a long time at the female gorillas who were lounging bcuz it was a superhot day and then one got up and rifled through her sleeping hay for a mouse which she picked up by its tail and flung against the window

    I hope such things do not happen to you

    (i mean the mouse thing–not the lounging or going to the zoo things–they are fine things that sometimes happen even to people)

    wow we’re old.
    love, k

    btw, the mouse seemed dead but must have just been stunned, becuz later we looked where it had fallen and it was not there, and no blood, so all good–my boys were emphatically not traumatized. in fact, they thought it was one of the cooler things (other than same she-ape peeing on some rocks) that the zoo had to offer. go figure.

  3. i’m glad the mouse was not harmed in the flinging incident. jees, nature. and kirsten, thank you for the bday mixes. they rule. do you have a song listing for them by any chance?

  4. christine — i don’t even remember what i said about xanadu, but even if i denigrated it, I don’t think it was that bad — it’s just soooooo of its time.

    Here are the movie moments I remember:

    — olivia newton john rollerskating;

    — the african american muse with a rod of hair on top of her hair;

    — the dictionary moment where the male protagonist reads the definition of a “muse” which ends with “Now do you get it Sonny?” (which I thought was so cool at age 10 and racked my brain as to how they pulled that off)

    — and of course the dance off where the rock n’ roll dancers meet the 1940s swing dancers, kind of like the McDonald’s campaign in the 80s when they tried to “keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool.” Remember that?

    So there. If Jesse comes to this site, hopefully, he’ll read the comments and see that we can connect on Xanadu after all…though I don’t think I’d ever be motivated to go see the show.

  5. i so heart your blog.

    it kinda cracks me up that you beat up all those kids. that’s the tinalee i’d like to meet today. but that tinalee would probably kick my ass.

  6. oh nnk, that tinalee of yesteryear was bad news. i was such an unhappy bully, but the flipside was that i would buy ice cream and organize fun games for the kids i used to beat up. just ask my cousin aimee.

  7. I think all bullies are unhappy at heart, and that’s why they feel the need to kick people’s asses. Not that I’d know firsthand, of course. As for Xanadu, I don’t think that movie was of its time so much as a year or two behind the times, which is why it bombed and pretty much killed Olivia’s budding film career dead. I think it’s a hoot that she turned down a role in “Can’t Stop The Music,” the Village People vehicle, because she figured disco had peaked. ROLLER disco, on the other hand….

  8. I did NOT know that. olivia was fantastic in grease. Every girl in my second grade class loved her and wanted to be here, whereas my friend Becca wanted olivia to be her mom. Yes, I agree. Bullies are an unhappy lot, and age 8, I guess I liked to kick other children’s bums to numb the pain. I didn’t know xanadu bombed. That’s terrible, though olivia did go on to start a store called Koala Blue in Australia, which I know from my subscription to Muppet Magazine when Kermit interviewed her. From the Post, I know she survived breast cancer. Bummer.

  9. I’ve been motivated to learn how to use this commentary thing in order to ask ET TU, BRUTUS?? That’s the second time you’ve mentioned me and Olivia Newton John in this blog!! Besides, it’s not “weird”. I think I was cute and precocious (having a better grasp of how genetics work than the rest of you 2nd graders). Aha! Bully.

  10. we all thought it was fun in college that you had such an original mother fantasy. i didn’t think it was weird that you had that fetish, just wanted to tease you you, but you’re being weird now. ha ha ha ha.

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