Miss America: "Can I sleep with you tonight, Nana?"
Miss America giggles and smiles. "I love you, Nana."
"I love you too. You're my girl."
Miss America, smiling adoringly as she hops into my bed and slides under the covers: "Do you want to talk about my day?"
This is part of our nightly ritual. Tonight, she tells me about getting ready for their trip to Florida to see my parents and we settle in, plumping up pillows, the light from my headboard shining dimly. She shows me her new doll, which is some variation of a Barbie with long purple hair and flippers instead of legs -- an exotic mermaid with an impossibly flat stomach who bends at the hips. Talk about an unrealistic image of a woman. Who do you know that's purple and bends at the hips? Then I realize I'm laying on something hard and pointy, and discover it is Shirtless Ken. And not the Ken of old.
"Whoa," I say. "Now this is a Ken doll. Surfer dude. Look how buff he is. I could use one of these."
Miss America indicates Ken's bare chest with her chubby little fingers, then scrunches up her face. "But you need a new face first."
I stare at her. "A new face?"
She looks at me like a doctor when all hope is lost. "Mmm, yeah."
Now I practically bust a gut. "A new face?!"
She is pleased that I am grinning and giggling at her statement, which escalates into loud laughter. In response, she says in her small voice, "I do good jokes, don't I?"
"I don't get it. What's wrong with my face?"
"Um, you should look in da mirror."
I look over my shoulder at the mirror on my headboard, then look back at her. "It's the lighting."
She looks at me doubtfully.
"How am I going to fix this face?" I say.
"I'll help you in da morning," she says confidently. "You need makeup."
"I need makeup? That's all?"
Again with the scrunchy face. "A LOT of makeup."
Miss America studies me for a moment and gestures with her hand. "You can laugh now."
"I do good jokes, don't I, Nana?"
I kiss her cheek, set Fish Barbie and K-Buff on the nightstand, and hand her Boudreaux the Bear. "Yeah, real funny. Better sleep with one eye open, kid."