Proud mamas and papas have seen to it, and rightfully so, that the “social networks” of today are abuzz with the peanut-butter-smeared antics of our nation’s greatest natural resource. No, not moss. It may astonish you to learn that I am referring to children. Others rank children third on our list of natural resources, after wind and fish, with moss a distant fourth. I would quibble only slightly, placing moss a very close second to children. Did you realize that so-called “Spanish moss,” the substance that lets you know you are watching a movie with a screenplay by Billy Bob Thornton, is not moss at all? Amazingly enough, it is related to the pineapple, our fifth-greatest natural resource. One thing almost no moss can do is make hilarious quips without realizing how cute it is. Children, on the other hand, say some wondrous things that you just can’t make up, accounting in part for their increasing popularity. I’ll give you an example from my own life.
The other night, the missus made a spiffy pasta primavera, heavy on the asparagus. Later that evening, our thirty-five-year-old, Rodney, came out of the bathroom in a humorously perturbed frame of mind.
“Oh God, I think I’m dying,” he said, groaning. It is one of his favorite things to say, so I must confess that I did not anticipate the jewel of guileless wit that was soon to follow.
“What’s the problem, champ?” I asked, glancing up from the ship-in-a-bottle kit that is my primary source of solace.
Rodney went on to describe a well-known olfactory side effect to the consumption of asparagus. To put it directly, our little man had made it nearly to middle age without realizing asparagus makes your pee stink.
It would have been great for the purposes of this column if he had phrased it in some funny or memorable way. A spoonerism, perhaps? “Asparagus made my stee pink.” Is that a good Facebook status? Looking back, he really missed the boat by not going for clear-eyed wonder. Something like, “God made my pee stink.”
Long story short, he made us take him to the emergency room. He had to hear it from a doctor. The whole thing turned kind of ugly and we drove home in what I am sorry to say was not the first stony silence of our relationship.
As I cast my mind back over the years, with the blank page—the penny-a-word scribbler’s most nefarious foe—looming before me, I cannot recall any other interesting things that Rodney has said, and I barely remembered that one. Don’t blame Rodney! I had recently taken up the enthusiastic drinking of gin rickeys as an affectation. And he has certainly proved inspirational in other ways.
He cuts his own hair, for example. And at today’s outrageous prices, who can blame him? I tell you all this at the risk of coming off as one of those tiresome parents who loves to boast and brag.
Yet how can one not? People without children of their own find such parental preening hard to understand, or so they claim, but that is just the crushing despair of envy talking.
Did I mention that Rodney cuts his own hair? I feel eighty percent confident that there’s something else he does, too.
As a self-diagnosed lycanthrope, Rodney spends most evenings in the basement, chatting with others of his ilk via the good graces of the Internet. His mother and I unfailingly make a big show of bolting the cellar door upon the advent of the full moon and promising not to let him out no matter what “inhuman sounds” we hear. It’s all in good fun, and there are usually no inhuman sounds—unless there happens to be a Frasier marathon on The Hallmark Channel that night. In that case, it’s invariably the wife and I who provide the inhuman sounds… the inhuman sounds of raucous amusement as snobbish Frasier receives yet another comeuppance at the hands of his own crusty old “pop” Martin Crane. Rodney is not allowed to watch Frasier, as the sight of Martin’s well-trained little dog Eddie drives him into paroxysms of howling.
Howling laughter, that is!