Note: for reasons I'm still not sure about, I visited my MySpace blog today and stumbled across the following from December 2007, dusty and faded. I'd hate to think that anything with the potential to embarrass my son* might go unnoticed, so I'm reposting it here.
I'm on vacation this week, the better to make my LA trip, and I've been picking my son James up from school to save Teres the hassle of pulling into a packed parking lot, waiting 15 or 20 minutes for James and his friend Morgan to get out and find us, and then waiting another 15 or 20 minutes to work our way out of the parking lot. The engineers who designed this parking lot obviously hated children and parents, or else they weren't aware that the school would try to cram three times as many kids in as they had room for. Either way.
Teres came along today so we could grab a late lunch afterwards, and this is more or less a verbatim description of the actual discussion that followed between Teres, me, and our 15-year-old son James after I pulled up to an intersection full of cars zipping along.
Teres: If you're gonna kill us, could you make it quick? I need to pee and a near miss would be bad.
Me: Nothing lingering?
Teres: No, lingering is bad. Quick, clean death.
James: Could you do it so I look cool when we die? In case there are cameras?
Me: No, no. You die cool, everyone talks about you, but then it goes away in a semester and maybe one mention in the yearbook. No, you need to die a spectacular, personally humiliating death.
Me: Like on fire, somehow. And pantsless.
Teres: (giggling) Pantsless?
Me: Completely. That's an image that wil burn into the minds of everyone who sees it. And everyone will see it, that's what YouTube is for.
James: Why am I pantsless?
Me: How should I know? The point is, you'll be a legend. You'll be a god, in your school. Freshmen will be told of you in hushed whispers.
Teres: With a lot of gestures.
James: People could get those memorial stickers for their back windshields. "Born 1992, Died–"
Me: Pantsless. And on fire.
Teres: Flaming Jamie.
Me: You'll go down in history.
Teres: And get a drink named after you.
James: So what part of me is on fire?
Teres: I assumed the head.
Me: I was thinking fully clothed, shirt, jacket, all on fire… but pantsless.
James: In my underwear?
Teres: Oh, no, those would go right up. Poof!
Me: Perhaps your pants caught on first, and after you got them off, you panicked and ran.
Me: Maybe a movie. Like Ghost Rider. You could fight crime.
Teres: That would be just the head on fire, then.
Me: Well, whatever looks better on the logo.
James: People could hold up their lighters and imitate me, like that comedian–
Me: Richard Pryor.
Teres: They'd have to take the bottom of the lighter off, though…
This is not an unusual discussion for us. I feel certain that somehow James will become a stronger, mentally healthy person for our little talks, possibly by shoving all of them deep, deep inside his psyche where they can only get out if the right word triggers it. And then, the rampage. Oh, the rampage.
Which will be devastating, And pantsless.
* I'm kidding. It's not possible to embarrass either of my sons. We've somehow neglected to instill any amount of shame in them whatsoever. Sorry, world.