Friday, February 14, 2014

Hearts and Hacksaw

You can go a long way in life just by grit and determination.  Most of my own accomplishments for instance can be attributed to stubbornness rather than to my winsome and engaging personality.  I would hazard to guess that of human beings now living I am in the upper 5% for indomitable, unshakable determination.

I say this without comment on whether it is either good or bad.  In fact it is a bit of both.  But in my family I remain a piker, an Ol' Softy, a marshmallow.  Because one of my sons is much more stubborn.

In fact an objective analysis would probably show him to be the second most stubborn organism on Planet Earth, being edged out only by a ragged patch of reindeer moss barely clinging to a frozen rock on the gale-lashed coast of Greenland.

Oh, we did have some adventures raising this one.

His first word was "broken".  He got a sledge hammer for his third birthday.  At age four he asked with apparent sincerity and with a bit of quaver in his voice, why didn't we name him "Hacksaw Chisel"? You could on rare occasion fool him, but actually forcing him to do something he did not want to do was effectively impossible..the effort involved in attempting to make him do household chores or extra credit homework simply exceeded the benefits.  Exponentially.

Of course parents are required once in a while to throw down an ultimatum.  Ever the picky eater, our lad existed somehow on pasta and meat.  Vegetables were anathema.  But one day wife and I had simply had enough.  We told him he had to sit right at the table until he ate some corn.  He made faces. He argued. But being a very, very smart monkey he recognized that this was one of those times we were willing to expend massive effort on a trivial matter.  All parenting has a few Stalingrad Moments.

A single kernel of corn was gingerly place on the tip of a spoon.  He held it as far away from himself as possible.  After a false start or two he put the horrid thing in his mouth.

The reaction was shocking.  His eyes bulged.  He gagged.  His face scrunched up.  If I were working in the ER it would have been time to do the Heimlich or perhaps prep for an emergency tracheotomy. My wife and I stood there, mouths open in astonishment.....and both broke out laughing at the bravura performance!

Fast forward through those quicksilver years when scrawny tow headed toddlers magically become tall, handsome young men.

There was a Young Lady turning up in various of the covert reports generated by the small town Stasi intelligence network.  Son grudgingly acknowledged the existence of this individual but said they were just casual friends.

One day it became known that she had been over to his squalid college guy-house and had cooked dinner for him.

"So, what did she make?"

(long pause.  longer pause.)

"Mushroom Lasagna".

I was stunned.  The world as I had come to understand it was false, a fraud, a scam that I was now seeing revealed for the first time.


(long pause.  very long pause.)

".......I was tricked".

Nope.  Not a trick.  Must be Love.


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