Back in January, loyal readers will recall, a storyline emerged about a serial retelling of the critically-acclaimed Paddington cinematic universe. This was among the most challenging and rewarding parental duties I have performed, and I took it very seriously—because I take all my bedtime stories seriously. I never tell the same story twice (though almost all my stories now are about Baby Rainbow Unicorn and her friend Niki), and I take great pains to ensure that all my stories have funny endings, even if that means I have to tack on a little womp womp to underscore the punch line.
Kina is a demanding listener, and she strives to protect the integrity of ongoing narratives, like a little continuity director watching for a misplaced hairbrush. Lately, without any new tricks to shake her, I’ve been stressed out about maintaining my streak. So, to keep things fresh, I’ve introduced a new narrator—the Story Bird, who flutters in every night from Jamaica. It is unclear if, by “Jamaica”, the Story Bird means the island nation or the Queens neighborhood, but the Story Bird (until recently) has had no particularly strong Un-daddy-like accent; the Story Bird is, by the time she lands on Kina’s chest, both exhausted and unplaceable.
In the last few days, however, Story Bird has been on vacation, and her backfill is “Joey Story Bird”, who is also from Jamaica but has a strong Brooklyn accent. So, too, do the characters of his stories—including Baby Rainbow Unicorn and Niki, who have become ten times more irascible and considerably ruder this week. In the “Joey Story Bird” regime, Baby Rainbow Unicorn and her friend Niki roam the planet looking for specific animals in various zoos and natural habitats. As they encounter their bumbling guides, Unicorn and Niki argue boisterously with each other and their hosts, declaring that lions are both “freakin’ great!” and “gonna bite my head off, are you crazy!?” Usually, by the end of the story, our loud protagonists have so annoyed the subject of their debate that they are both summarily devoured. This is usually when I make the womp womp sound and Kina—with eyes half closed—chuckles quietly. Funny ending.
These little vignettes of our little Brooklynite friends in the jungle are part of Kina’s most recent serial fiction obsession, and I figure it dovetails with her recent interest in animal videos. We’ve covered unicorns, monkeys, lions, and tigers so far—just a fraction of the mammals, so we clearly have many weeks to go. Like the impatient King Shahryar from One Thousand and One Nights, Kina insists that I never end a story by saying “The end”, but instead conclude with “There’s more tomorrow!” She calls this kind of story a “tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow story”, which is a fitting Shakespeare reference, since it creeps in a petty pace from day to day, and is told by an idiot, full of sound and fury.