Welcome To The World, Samantha

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Commentator Brian McConnachie welcomes a neighbor's baby to this world — and points out some small but interesting — reasons to be happy to arrive. He notes the wonderful names of cleaning products and the high quality of our shoelaces.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

The approach of January heralds a new beginning. And for a new neighbor of commentator Brian McConnachie, that is a literal description of her status, a newborn whom he welcomes to this world.

BRIAN MCCONNACHIE: Our neighbors just had a baby girl, Samantha. Welcome to the land of the free and the home of the brave, Samantha. As you grow and your eyes focus, I'd like to point out a few things that you might like about being a Yank.

One thing you'll probably notice are all those bottles and such under the sink. Consider their names for a moment. Cheer, Joy, Behold, Dawn, Bounty, Fantastic, Mop 'n' Glow, Fab. Are they not the cleaning products of a happy people? It almost makes you want to start scrubbing floors.

Then, before you know it, Samantha, you'll be tying your own shoes. Do you know that the strongest shoelaces in the world are made right here in the U.S.? That's why the authorities take them away when they put you behind bars.

We are also a sports-loving people with a penchant for poetry, as in: Getting a fastball past Henry Aaron was like getting a sunrise past a rooster. Pretty good, huh?

As you keep growing, you're going to have heroes who reflect the talent of the American character. Some of mine are E.B. White, Willie Mays, George Gershwin and Martha Stewart.

You might then reply: But, gee, Mr. Mac, we just learned in social studies and home ec she's a convicted felon.

Be that as it may, I include Martha Stewart because of her mashed potatoes. I am absolutely convinced that if she had given the judge a bowl of her fabulous mashed potatoes, that judge would've yelled out "case dismissed," found a spoon and retired to chambers. Her mashed potatoes are just that good. But she didn't take the easy way out. She didn't play the mashed potato card, and she didn't whine. She sucked it up, handed over her shoelaces and did her stretch.

And we are only left to imagine what she could have created with a pair of American shoelaces and that much time to kill.

And speaking of mashed potatoes, Samantha, we are also a musical people who love to dance. You'll probably begin with the Chicken Dance, the Bunny Hop and the Hokey Pokey, and then move on to the more interpretive styles of the Watusi, the Frug and the Bump, followed by the cha-cha, twist and tango, then waltzing your way to the "Macarena," on through the Mashed Potato and the Lambada, the forbidden dance of love, all the way on to hot dance disco.

Hopefully, stopping along the way for another pop favorite, the bossa nova, which I am quick to add is the only dance that takes complete responsibility for itself. Its own lyrics declare: Blame it on the bossa nova. You're not going to find that happening in Herzegovina.

And somewhere around the age of 30, you should definitely know what you want to do with your life. The Pentagon looks dysfunctional. Maybe you can help out there.

So let's review. Happy cleaning products equal a happy people. American shoelaces - ask if you can hold onto yours. Hey, you never know.

De Tocqueville, now, there was no mention of de Tocqueville. But when dealing with the sociology of a people, it's always good to mention de Tocqueville.

What about mashed potatoes? Well, eat them in moderation but never with a spoon. It looks prehensile. And we never eat them while dancing.

So, Samantha, in conclusion, as Lincoln said to de Tocqueville, most people are as happy as they want to be. But to paraphrase Dorothy, if you can't find happiness under your own kitchen sink, maybe you should check under the bathroom sink. But if it isn't there, you know what, blame it on the bossa nova.

(Soundbite of music)

SIEGEL: Brian McConnachie lives in New York's Hudson River Valley.

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