Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Mischievous Memory Maker

In the splendid spring of 1995, the Doc and I, in a state of betrothed bliss, partook of the odd, time-honored, tradition of registering for wedding gifts. Crystal and silver that gather dust and tarnish and china that rarely leaves the dining room hutch. There was an assortment of kitchen gadgetry, specialty utensils, and, lest I be perceived as an ingrate, many practical and quite durable selections as well. One of these was a set of three, nesting, stoneware bowls. Plain white and surprisingly heavy, these bowls have held countless quarts of pancake batter, steamed vegetables, Jello, and other culinary delights. They clean up easily, store efficiently and are as much a staple of our kitchen as milk, flour, or Ben and Jerry's New York Super Fudge Chunk.

Last night, as I put the finishing touches on two jack-o-lanterns, both with angry slashes of eyebrows and ferociously sharp teeth (the boys are 9 and 7, would you expect anything different?), my younger son asked if he could put the candy bowl out on the front porch. Our house is a bit of a hike from the street, so the dish we set out when we leave on our trick-or-treating trip is usually still nearly full when we return.

"Sure," I replied, happy to keep him busy and take one more thing off the checklist as dusk approached. The Doc would be home shortly, we could all have a quick dinner and then get into costumes and the haunted night. The camera was on the table, I needed to find flashlights, and where were those glowsticks we bought in bulk last spring ...

"Dad!" my older son (seen above as Anakin Skywalker) interrupted my checklist reverie, "Patrick (the pirate) wrote something on the bowl!"

I don't think a seven-year old knows what a shit-eating grin is, but that didn't stop the guilty party from proudly smiling when confronted with this accusation.

"What did you write?"

"A song we learned at school." Could be worse. Could be a song he learned on the bus.

"What did you write it with?"

"A marker." Struggling to contain his smile from spilling into gleeful laughter.

"A permanent marker?"

"I don't know..." Still confident and somewhat defiant.

"Which marker?"

"The thick black one." Not a trace of regret.

And there it was, and there it shall remain, a slight variation on a familiar Halloween ode, inscribed for all eternity.

If you are not an expert in deciphering the scrawl of a seven-year old, let me offer the following translation:

"Trick or treat, smell my feet, I've been waiting 52 weeks, give me a nice sweet treat."

I plan to get the last laugh, though I might have to wait a while. This family artifact should make a lovely wedding gift to my son and his someday bride, particularly when presented at their rehearsal dinner.

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