These days, for whatever reason, I am into writing fiction.
Things That Go Boom
There are certain things in life that are simply not designed to withstand a crash to the floor. For those of you who indulge, water pipe devices leap readily to mind. You can say a lot of things about stoners, like they’re not as apt to beat their wives, or if it is a wife in question, she is not as likely to beat her kids, but stoners are still more likely than the average person, to knock a bong down, at some point during a sick party. That also stands to reason, because if you are not a stoner, then you do not keep bongs on hand to crash to the floor in the first place.
I was busy in the laundry room this morning, bustling uncharacteristically about on my jenky knees, when my left elbow went into its act. This is the same elbow, so renowned for knocking every single oil lantern we ever owned, onto the floor, for the entertainment of all. Just think of it as job security. So when my elbow made definitive contact with my number two bong this morning, the tall one, more than sixteen inches high, if you will pardon the comparison, I was not surprised to see it plummet off of the washing machine, and down to parts unknown, the resulting crash bound to be loud enough to wake a sleeping teenager.
Then an extraordinary event occurred, or didn’t occur, as the case turned out. Somehow, coincidentally, there was a hamper filled with clothes awaiting their turn, patiently, at the base of the washer, into which the bong tumbled, literally. If it had struck any part of the four sides of the hamper, it would still have shattered. Buddha was looking down on me this morning, when I dropped my hands from covering my ears, and there was still no evidence of a crash.
And then I was thinking back to a time when I was baby-squatting my three sons, with the woman of the house down in the Bay Area at a math conference, and we had another type of close call, and you can determine for yourself, which one you like better.
The year had to be 1986, because Number 3 Son was still in a baby bassinet, that perched quite handily in the center of the kitchen table, while I was preparing a dinner of chili omelet and hash browns, a staple here in our household, as soon as you are able to hold a spoon in your grubby little fist. I think that was what Number 2 Son was trying to effect: a spoon in Number 3 Son’s grubby little fist.
Number 1 Son would have been three and a half years old, Number 2 Son, two years old on the dot, and Number 3 Son, about six months young. I had peeled and grated the potatoes, and was rinsing them in the colander, when I noticed that Number 2 son had made his way up onto a kitchen chair, and was fixated on his younger brother.
There was nothing odd about Number 2 son perching on a chair. I thanked my lucky stars that he was not perched on top of the refrigerator, the way the woman of the house found him, once upon a time. His secret was that he had climbed a 2 by 6 staircase railing, running alongside the fridge, to gain access to the top of said white box. When he was discovered, there was serous weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Number 2 Son seemed to have survived the experience quite handily, but it was never really clear just how he had made the transition from staircase railing to refrigerator top. His legend grew.
Now as I rinsed those grated potatoes, some sound, some movement, some premonition made me turn to the side, just in time to see Number 2 Son, applying the final nudge to the little bassinet, and to see it simply drop off the edge of the universe, or the kitchen table, for all of the difference that it made. That thirty-six inches of height from the tabletop to the floor, may as well have been the Grand Canyon wall, as far as a six-month-old infant is concerned. Infants’ heads are not designed to bounce off of 2 by 6, tongue and groove, pine flooring.
Instead of bouncing, Number 3 Son’s face (for he fell face first) settled quietly, peacefully, unharmed, into a full-sized pillow, which had been unceremoniously deposited on the floor just under the table. Had I seen it while preparing dinner, I would have asked one of the small boys to replace it on the sofa.
As it was, like the bong this morning, Number 3 Son’s face had avoided certain catastrophe, by the fortuitous encounter of something which broke his fall. Never did the sounds of silence, peal forth so lustily, as the day that time stood still, long enough for the gods to rearrange things in my household, so that there was a pillow awaiting a six-month-old face, on its way to an encounter of a brutal nature, with an unforgiving kitchen floor.