Thursday, November 03, 2005

Going for the Line

Likes most families, ours is a storytelling one. Each of us enjoys being the star of the story du jour, and hopefully we come out looking good. But when one family member gets too much air time, the others get a little jealous. Sometimes they make news, as it were, by trying to be funny. Even if the joke falls flat, at least it draws attention. It reminds me of my Yorkie, Gino, who is now outweighed by each of the three cats in the house. He evens the score by biting them on the head when they least expect it. Then he's on top of the heap again because everyone knows bad attention is better than no attention. The other day, I was once again charmed by something my youngest child said ("every little thing she does is magic"--except never cleaning her room) and shared it with several people. The number one son, a little tired of playing second fiddle (he detests having to play the violin at all, second fiddle even less) decided to reassert his place as numero uno. As the conversation veered toward a discussion about women pastors, he jumped in and said, "Women shouldn't be pastors. Men are smarter than women. That's why they never have to ask for directions." His grandparents and I guffawed. He laughed, too, and repeated his comment. Then he asked me to email it to his father who was traveling for work this week. I declined, because I wondered if he knew why we were laughing. Not because we agreed with him, heavens no, but because he was completely off the mark. Days later, I'm replaying that conversation in my head, and I wonder if my son didn't already know the subtext. Maybe he too was laughing at its outrageousness. In many ways, a little Yoda he is in a ten-year old's body. It reminds me of a coworker who used to say the most shocking things, and when I'd respond, she'd smile and say, "I was just going for the line." In retrospect my junior Jedi master might have known full well the adult perspective on men and directions. Or was he just redirecting the laugh track back his way at any cost, like any one trying to shift position on the totem pole of life? Biting his sister on the head was out of the question, so he restored equilibrium by saying the first funny thing that came to mind. Whether he's a budding ironic or just another Yorkie clawing his way to the top, it worked. He went for the line and was a star once more.

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