Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Son, The Playa

The phone rings with a subliminal tone begging me to answer it instead of letting it go to the machine as usual. It’s Thing 2’s teacher.

I need to talk to you about an incident that happened at lunch today.”

The first warning sign came in the autumn under a canopy of decaying leaves and bitterly cold drizzle. Thing 2’s class came to tour the local arboretum. I played chaperone while they learned about the circle of life in the vegetative world.

Instead I witnessed the embryos of birds and bees.

Thing 2 was holding hands with a girl.

Well, it was really more the other way around. I saw her make the grab, and she saw me see it, giving me a coy smile before she turned away.

She was his assigned “buddy” for the day. Maggie. A stick with a blonde ponytail. She had been giving him the googly eyes since that first day she joined his class, mid-semester, last year. I know. I helped out in the classroom that day.

The children were playing a game of spin of the bottle.”

A month or so later, while I helped sell pencils, erasers and things of far more plastic and far less essential nature at a school function, a teacher passed on a sighting of the second warning sign.

“Oh, your son is so cute. And with the girls! Thing 2 and Libby are always together on the playground. They are best friends.”

Libby? Who’s Libby?

When I asked, Thing 2 quickly owned up that it was his idea and he was the one leading the game.”

Libby is a classmate. In February, while others were passing around glossy index-card Valentines from the drugstore that featured the latest hip cartoon character or superhero on them, Libby presented my son with this 9-by-12-inch homemade beauty:


He said when the bottle landed on someone …”


… you had to dare that person …”


… to tell someone that he or she loved them.”


That’s it?

“So,” I say into the receiver. “You’re saying that no spit was swapped?”

His teacher laughs.

“Yes, that’s correct. … Tomorrow at lunch, some of the assigned seats will be rearranged.”

* * *

Thing 2 clamors into the minivan that afternoon. He vibrates with the unharnessed energy of the nearly 8-year-old boy he is.

“Hey, buddy,” I say over my shoulder from the driver’s seat. “Anything interesting happen at school today.”

I catch his expression from the corner of my eye. No fear, no deception, just pre-adolescent exuberance. “Nope. Is it taco night?”

“Yep. Taco night.”

“Yeaaah! Taco-taco-TAAAAAAA-cooooo!”

* * *

Thing 2 sits at the counter and asks a question of no consequence.

“I don’t know,” I say, the corners of my mouth rising to devilish points. “Maybe will should spin a bottle for it?”

“OK,” he says. His expression and body language stays unchanged.

As opposed to My Love’s. She has been apprised of the phone call and her eyes speak to me in deafening volumes.

“Not now,” she pushes through gritted teeth that sharpens each letter before it hurtles toward me. Her head motions to big sister, Thing 1, snacking at the other end of the counter.

I duck, roll my eyes and mouth “I know” because I do know.

Geez. Let a dad have a little fun, woman.

A short while later, when big sister is miles away at dance class, My Love and I flip on the klieg lights. We don shades, fold arms, tilt heads all David Caruso like.

We confront. He confesses. Rubber hoses limp back to their lockers.

“Don’t sweat it,” I say. “Just understand that that game is not appropriate for school, OK? No biggie.”

But My Love, she wants more. She wants details. Nay, she wants …


“Who else was playing?”

They spill forward monosyllabically. I know most of them, if not by sight, by reputation. But of the girls in his list, conspicuous by their absence, are two.


And Libby.

* * *

The day after.

The sun creeps over the backyard tree line, bathing the kitchen counter in tangerine and lemon just to Thing 2’s left. He polishes off his bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch then hurries down to his laboratory.

He’s been cutting and pasting and taping off and on since Tuesday afternoon. He has a project of the highest importance on the second-grade Richter scale due this morning.

“Two’s still asleep!” falsely tattles Thing 1 when she arrives in the kitchen half an hour later.

“No, he’s not,” I say. “He was up before you and he’s downstairs putting the final touches on his lid. Today’s Crazy Hat Day at school.”

“Oh,” she says. “How was I to know?”

Minutes later, as I scrape the plates, from the basement, my son arises. This is what he looked like:




Overnight, my son has transformed from stud to pimp.


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  1. This was really good. And disturbing when I think of my own, who is already popular with the older girl (2 years) set.

    Does your kid need a wing man?

  2. Kid's got more game than I have.

    And popped collars on kids are back? Suddenly all my photos from the 80's are hip again!

  3. huh. weird.

    good comment with eyes speaking volumes.

    Mom eyes!


  4. As the father of a middle school daughter I can only say that as much as I respect your son for being a playah, I also fear him and his kind...

  5. I was wondering if any ho in his stable is anything other than a stick with a ponytail.

    On a related note, I went to the pimp name generator and Thing 1 pimpafied into Vicious D. T. Smooth. I like it. Kinda goes with the hat.

  6. Stamfordonthecheap.comMarch 25, 2010 at 8:31 PM

    I can tell already -#2 will be a lady killa. Just wait till the day swapping spit seems quaint. (FYI - check out Facebook photo of my two sons who'd both probably love to borrow your son's hat).

  7. What's a girl gotta do for some attention - Taco's indeed.

    Watch those feathers. If they multiply it may be some kind of notch in the bedpost type symbolism brewing.

  8. He takes after dad?

  9. "from stud to pimp."

    That line earned a "Snort Laugh." Very funny.

  10. Congratulations! Thing 2 is all kinds of cool.

    Libby wasnt playing Spin the Bottle because she was too busy feeding him grapes off the vine while Maggie fanned his with her Trapper Keeper.

  11. LOL--that's hilarious!

    Boys have got to watch it now-a-days because girls are WAY more aggressive!

    Perfect hat!

  12. That kid is suave. Plain and simple. If he's already got that kind of love fest brewing this in elementary school, I feel for you come high school.

  13. My daughter is 4. I am not looking forward to the days when I am dealing with studs and pimps. Oh boy...

  14. Oh, my... that's how it starts. I remember. You are in for it, you poor thing. Mine are now 18 & 21, they both are tattooed and one is in a rock band.
    The girls are all over them and mom is on Valium. I'm praying for you dude!!

  15. You know it's hard out here for a pimp (you ain't knowin)
    When he tryin to get this money for the rent (you ain't knowin)
    For the Cadillacs and gas money spent (you ain't knowin)
    Because a whole lot of bitches talkin shit (you ain't knowin)
    Will have a whole lot of bitches talkin shit (you ain't knowin)

  16. play on, playa.

    we're wondering when Pookie's gonna start having such interactions. she's 8.

    we got a ways to go before the triplets get there. but Lord help me when they do.

  17. So Sweet.

    And agree with Mrs. Holly Hall and eyes speaking volumes.

  18. Hahaha
    I love it!
    But ohhhh- have fun with that in a few years!!

  19. Speaking as a third grade teacher, we do EVERYTHING to keep the spit from being swapped!

    With that hat though...there are NO guarantees. LOL

  20. Oh my lord, his pimp hand is STRONG! Okay, that was so unappropriate, but I couldn't resist!

  21. I love the pimp hat...The Ladies Man!

  22. oh, jeez. My boy is 7. I guess it won't be too much longer and I'll be seeing it too. By the way, where does someone get a hat like that? And the feathers? where did that idea come from :-)

  23. Aw, I think he just looks like he's going fishing. Boy knows where the best fish are: in a a school.

  24. Pimping is where the real money is at.

  25. Why am I now singing "boys wanna touch our junk?" Big pimpin' indeed.

  26. In my 6 years of teaching first grade, I have never seen a valentine quite as well conceived as that one. The only thing it is missing is some glitter and lace, and maybe some perfume.

  27. I can totally relate. My son tells me every week about the latest damsel that has professed her undying love and devotion. So many of them now. They should probably form a support network.

  28. You guys have taco night in Connecticut?

  29. Clearly you are mistaken because my son is almost 8 and he will think girls are yucky for the next 20 years....or at least until he gets his PhD.


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