Fern got this cute book on our last vacation — Pinkalicious — about a girl who eats too many pink cupcakes and turns, well, pink. And then — you’ll never guess! — the kid eats even more and turns red. I won’t tell you the rest — don’t want to give it away.

As is her wont, after about a hundred readings, Fern decided to shake things up a bit and asked me to read the book using “purple.” Purple cupcakes turn you lavender, then violet, you see. And we did yellow and orange, and one stormy night she wanted to hear “Rainalicious,” too. (Eat too many rainy cupcakes and you get all hail-y.)

And then came the night when she wanted to read… Blackalicious.

And to think, I was once proud of my ability to explain shit. Why’s the sky blue? All over that. Ditto on the whole baking soda-vinegar thing.

But why “Blackalicious” just sounds — man, could it be more wrong? Like, is this a kids’ book or a blaxploitation movie? Man oh man, I’m not so good at that.

However, if there’s one thing that teaching has learned me, it’s to soldier on in the face of potentially embarrassing moments without showing weakness.

There’s a preschool song called “Thumbkin” in which each of your fingers comes out one at a time to greet its partner. When you get to the middle finger —

“Here comes Tall Man! Here comes Tall Man!”


— you’re suddenly greeted by a room full of smiling tots happily flipping each other the bird.

But the point is that they don’t know the gesture and they certainly wouldn’t know the epithet it denotes. They’re just kids. So you stifle your laugh into an encouraging smile and sing all the louder, flipping yourself off too, just to be part of the fun.

So we read our Blackalicious, and, because I didn’t make a big deal out of it at the time, Fern moved onto_Potatolicious_ the next night, and soon enough forgot about the book anyway.

* * *

As a quick epilogue, I Googled “Blackalicious” and found it’s actually a West Coast hip hop act with — would you believe it? — an alphabet song. As soon as I decode all the lyrics (and edit a couple of nasty ones) I’ll be singing this to Fern in place of that old-fashioned A-B-Cs thing.