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by T. Coraghessan Boyle

When my wife and I were long-haired graduate students, living on a combined income of $5,000 a year, we didn't have any children.  Suddenly, when I got a job and published my first book, children began to appear in the house, bald-headed and yowling, and I was able to resolve one of the great mysteries shrouding the whole issue of babycare: yes, they do shit directly in their pants.  But there they were, and like the coyote, the gander and the guppy before me, I cared for them in my own abstracted way.  There was the placing of the colorless mush between the grasping hungry toothless jaws, the blasting of the Clash's "Armageddon Time" to drown out the general shrieking, the vigorous poking of my wife over the incessant night alarum.  (Me?  Get up and pat babies at 3:00 A.M.?  Are you kidding?  I was a genius, and how could you expect a genius to burp babies in the black of night?)

We were lucky.  They grew.  (The alternatives are grim: dwarves or caskets.)  But as they grew and the generalized yowling gave way to semi-articulate whining and bickering, a whole new set of problems arose.  For one, their heads seemed disproportionately small in comparison to their great flapping feet, feet so big it was as if they'd just returned from a scuba expedition somewhere.  And then there were their eating habits.  Picture, if you will, the evening meal: five souls gathering round the table to ingest the offering of the day, the lighting muted, genial smells wafting.  So far, so good.  But when you consider that my daughter (seen, when she was eleven, in close conference with the "Meat Is Murder" dude at Venice Beach) is a vegetarian, I an omnivore, my wife a consumer of nothing but bloody hunks of discolored meat, and my sons busy pioneering the 23-candy-bar-a-day diet, you can see some of the problems surrounding the alimentary ritual.

But there is good news.  At some point they will be grown, gainfully employed and sending me nice little checks each month.  Barring that, we do have the imminent disintegration of the world to look forward to.

                            © T. Coraghessan Boyle.  Used by permission of the author.

NOTE from Werner Richter, July 18, 2000:

In 1997, the German women's magazine Brigitte called me to have this little piece translated which TC obviously had written directly for them as a commissioned work (it was for a sort of Fathers' View usually printed on the last page for comic relief ... and it is ever so comic, though not really relieving  :-))

Unfortunately the editors couldn't really stomach TC's typical humor, so they bowdlerized a very funny bit where he meditates on the subject of kids growing up: "The alternatives are grim: dwarves or caskets" (even though it rhymes wonderfully in German: "Zwerge oder Särge" )  :-}

... and we all know the author's predilection for fish, be it lunker pike, guppy or Siamese walking catfish... 

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--Sandye Utley, Cincinnati, Ohio

Last Page Update: 17 February  2001