Corrupting the youth
January 15, 2016 § 41 Comments
I went to a beer-and-biker event last night at Strand Brewing Co., where I was joined by some of my friends from Team Lizard Collectors. They drank beer while I ate tacos and gazed longingly at their frothy hops.
But before they arrived I got there early. I get places early usually. You can sometimes get in trouble arriving early, but pretty much always get in trouble coming late.
At one of the tables was my buddy Joel Elliott. That’s not his real name, so don’t Google “Joel Elliott, Strand Brewing Co.” because it’s just a pseudonym.
He was sitting at the table with his wife, his wife’s friend, and five little kids. The kids were all well behaved, quietly playing UNO, chewing with their mouths closed, and waiting until being spoken to before speaking.
I sat down and Joel introduced me to the kids as “Mr. Davidson.” You know how much kids like being introduced to “Mr.” anything? Kind of like they enjoy the phrases “time for bed” and “I’m telling your father when he gets home.”
But these kids were all well bred and made the briefest of eye contact before resuming their kid lives. I waited a couple of seconds. “All right, kids, listen up!” I said in my most authoritative voice. They all looked up.
“Now you don’t know me, but I’m a liar. The biggest liar you ever met. I’m 52 years old and I’ve been lying since the day I was born. I also have bad manners, chew with my mouth open, and like to spit.”
The littlest punkin gazed up. “How big a liar are you?” she asked.
“I’m a bigger liar than all the other liars in the world combined. I once told my principal, Mr. Smudgy Pigeonpants, that if he spanked me again my leg would fall off.”
“Smudgy Pigeonpants?” they cackled.
“Yes, and his assistant, Poopy Stinkyfeet, I lied to her too.”
“Poopy Stinkyfeet?” said one of the boys. “That’s not a real name.”
“Sure it is,” I said. “Are you calling me a liar?”
“YES!!” they all chimed in unison.
“If you’d called me a liar yesterday that would have been true, but after this morning I decided to quit lying and only tell the truth. I haven’t told a single lie today and don’t intend to.”
“But you just lied about that Stinkypants and Pigeonfeet stuff!” said one of the girls.
“Those lies didn’t count,” I said. “They were assistant lies.”
“What’s an assistant lie?” asked a boy.
“It’s a lie you tell to help you get to the truth. Now, then, go ahead and ask me anything and I swear on a stack of dead cricket abdomens that I’ll tell the truth.”
“What’s an abdomen?” asked the littlest girl.
“It’s like a stomach except on a cockroach,” said one of the boys.
“How old are you?” asked the littlest girl.
“437,” I piously intoned.
“LIAR!!” they all yelled, bits of food falling onto the floor and a general mess of the card game being made. One of the boys spilled some cold water on my feet.
“Okay,” I said, “I was lying about that but I won’t lie anymore, I promise. I learned to stop lying in prison.”
“You’ve been to prison?” the biggest boy asked.
“Oh, sure. Everyone in my family has.”
“Are you lying again?” asked the other boy, who had become something of a skeptic in a rather short period of time.
“What were you in prison for?”
“Killing people,” I said. “Forty of them. All at once. With a spitball cannon to the big toe.”
“LIAR!” they all roared.
“Nope,” I said. “I’ve got the prison tattoo on my left arm to prove it. It says ‘Corcoran State Prison for Spitball Murder, #20182718101838540582Azidy283521.'”
“On your arm?” asked the skeptic.
“Show it to us.”
I was wearing a hoodie, a long sleeve sweater, and a long sleeve t-shirt. “Roll up my sleeve and see for yourself.”
They all pounced on my arm, knocking a taco off the table, smearing some salsa with the UNO cards, and making a general mess. They got the 12 sleeves of Christmas rolled halfway up. “There’s no tattoo!” shrieked the oldest girl, triumphantly.
“Sure there is,” I said. “It’s on the other arm.”
“LIAR!” they roared and attacked my other sleeve.
“There’s no tattoo here, either!” proclaimed the skeptic.
“You didn’t roll it up far enough,” I said.
They all turned to with great energy and violence, but there was only so far they could roll up the bundle of sleeves. Finally the littlest girl jammed her hand up the inside of my bicep. “I can’t feel any tattoo!”
“Oh, no!” I said. “Now you’ve got stinky hand!”
She sniffed her fingers. “Yuck!”
“That will never wash off,” I said, sadly.
“LIAR!” they all said.
“What’s your name?” I asked the biggest girl.
“Cassidy,” she said.
“That’s an incredible coincidence!” I shouted excitedly.
“What’s a coincidence?” asked the littlest girl.
“It’s when a bunch of things happen wrong at the same time,” said the biggest boy.
“How come it’s a coincidence?” asked Cassidy.
“Because my daughter’s name is Cassidy, too!”
“LIAR!” they all shouted.
“No, really, this time I swear I’m telling the truth. Her name is Cassidy except we spell it with an ‘a’ instead of an ‘i’ but we pronounce it the same.”
“I swear on a stack of old cockroach droppings that I’m telling the truth, really.”
“I extra promise!”
I looked at the littlest girl, who had wedged her way under my left arm and who was perched cozily against my hoodie while sitting on my leg. “You don’t think I’m lying, do you?”
She smiled sadly. “You’re a big liar but you’re a nice liar,” she said.
“If that’s your daughter’s name call her up and let us ask her what her name is!” said the skeptic.
“Call her up! Call her up! Call her up!” they all shouted.
“Well, okay,” I said. I slowly took out my phone and, hiding the screen, dialed my daughter on speakerphone.
“Hello?” she answered.
A cacophony of little kid voices screamed, “What’s your name?”
My 27-year-old daughter, who grew up with a rather odd father, wasn’t the least bit surprised to be receiving a phone call from what sounded like half a dozen screaming kids demanding to know her name.
“Cassady,” she said. “Who is this?”
Dead silence. The kids looked at me in awe.
“Thanks, honey,” I said into the speakerphone, and hung up.
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