Our house is so loud that it's beginning to kill off the landscaping. Shrubs are dying, and there's this ring — almost a solar corona — where the grass is browning around the foundation. Lately, even the spiders are clinging to life, that's how loud our house is.
The other day the little guy runs in, slams the door so hard that all the 8-penny nails in the house pop a quarter-inch out of their sockets … baaaam, zip. He is breathless and carrying a lacrosse stick just because.
When his mother asks him what's the rush (in the vernacular of our house, this comes out, "WHAT IN GOD'S NAME IS WRONG WITH YOU?!!"), he explains that a squirrel has just chased him clear across the frontyard.
"Was it barking?" she asks.
"Did it have a collar on?"
"Because I think that was the neighbor's Pekingese."
"Oh, yeah," says the little guy, who runs outside again because by now he has to pee. If you've ever had a little boy, you understand why he had to go outside to do this (mostly because little boys are feral creatures, half a chromosome away from the common raccoon).
So, yes, he is coming along nicely, this kid. His mother and I are very proud.
In raising him, I am putting to work all the things I learned on our first round of children, who turned out, well, not perfectly. Now I am aiming for perfection.
Wish me luck. The other day the little guy labeled one of his sisters a "hairanoid" because she's one of those people (female) who worry too much about hair.
Then we get into this big thing about his own hair, that it's waaaaaaay too long. Believe it or not, I'm a little old school when it comes to hair length.
What really frosts my pumpkins is how easily arguments about hair spring up in our house. Not politics. Not Europe's debt load. Hair.
And they think that because I don't really obsess over hair, my opinion carries less weight.
For, of the $1,500 a week we spend on hair care products at our house, we spend $0 of it on me.
That's a very small percentage. Even for a non-hairanoid.
This morning I washed my hair — no kidding — with Intergalactic Berry Shampoo. "No Tears! No Knots! No Invasions!"
There was a photo of Buzz Lightyear on the bottle, which is how I knew it was pretty good stuff, though I'm not certain Buzz Lightyear even has hair, just that stupid glass dome. In a very real sense, he's bald, but they still manage to let Buzz Lightyear hawk shampoo.
This tells you more about our world than any sociology text ever could — bald spacemen pitching shampoo. The only saving grace was the secret decoder on the back of the bottle. Also, there were directions: "Wet hair, squeeze a burst into your palm. Apply shampoo, lather up. Rinse clean."
Sure enough, this method worked.
So, I step out of the shower, my hair softer and more manageable than it's ever been, and I say to the little guy, who is dissecting something in the bathroom sink, perhaps a squirrel, that "maybe we should get you a haircut for soccer season."
This ignites a big argument with my wife-in-law over the length of his hair.
For you young guys contemplating marriage, read these last six paragraphs over 100 times before committing. Because before you know it, you'll be standing in the shower using Intergalactic Berry Shampoo and stepping out into an almost existentialist argument with someone resembling your spouse.
I think that my wife, Posh, was pre-mad, because earlier I'd claimed that chicken wings are about 33% air, meaning that the three dozen I'd eaten for breakfast really only amounted to two dozen. So, eating three dozen chicken wings is not nearly as gluttonous as it might first seem, judging from the foot-high pile of bones.
"A large part of that meal was just common air," I insisted.
Which she didn't get at all. But I know you do.
As a postscript, I will reveal what I learned later, which is that the little guy wants to wear his hair a little longer because his sister's college boyfriend — a golden boy, an astrophysics major who wants to be an astronaut — wears his hair a little longer as well.
On some level, life eventually starts to make sense. But it can take time.