I have three sons … all deep enough into adulthood now.
Two are fathers … the other is a genius.
I’m tempted to call ‘em Moe, Larry, and Curly … but if I do … and it gets back to them … well … then they’re gonna tell lots of secrets about you-know-who … so … no Moe, Larry, and Curly.
The oldest is a high school history teacher …. the middle one is a doctor …. and the genius is a business guy.
They’re all happy … and clever … and successful. They have wonderful mates, wonderful children … and each has a wonderful sense of humor.
When they were young-young … on a rainy weekend day … when they couldn’t shuck their energy in the usual ways … the three were in the den … dressed in their morning costumes of sad looking underwear. Watching wrestlers make fun of wrestling.
I was a room away when I heard the S-Word.
I have five brothers. There are very goofy rites of passage in a boy-kingdom. The S-Word is one of them. It’s that moment when a child uses that word in front of his father.
Believe me … it’s a BIG deal.
Everything has to be right about that moment. Right mood. Right situation. Right setting, Right reason. I mean … it’s all gotta tumble into perfect place to … to … to say “shit” in front of your father.
And it’s a strange crossover moment, too. It sorta, kinda, maybe means the kid is not so much a child anymore … but a kid-kid.
He’s not a man. Nope. But … but he’s wise to his world … and his world has the “shit” word.
So … from the other room … I hear “shit”. And up I get … and I’m there … and the three of them are on the crappy couch … in their ugly underpants and stretched-out, super-hero undershirts. Scrawny legs and knobby knees. Totally cute.
But … but I’m the dad … so … I’ve got my dad-face on. And I got their attention quick-quick.
“Who said ‘shit’?”
Blunt is a wonderful dad-bomb.
The mouths dropped open and the eyes went B-I-G. But … but this morning, they sort of keep their kid-cool going on. No one fidgets big time. They’re just looking up at King Dad … with their heads tilted liked little Cocker Spaniels … with big eyes..
I think they drew a little courage from each other. That can happen.
And I just stood there … and waited … which is the best-ever dad tactic there is.
And the oldest acts like the oldest … and the boldest.
“Did you hear ‘shit?”
“You’re sure it was ‘shit’?”
And the middle guy gets bold … “I thought I heard ‘shit’, too.” … and nods like a bobblehead at a stoplight.
And he turns to the youngest one and says … “Did you hear ‘shit’?”
This is called “passing the shit” … it grows the bravery … and kinda like kiddie-mafia pledge … but it really creates the perfect humor.
So they’re off.
The young guy’s the most reluctant.
“I think I heard it, too.”
And the oldest is not gonna let him get out of the shit game without saying “shit”…
“You heard ‘shit’, too? … what did it sound like to you?”
And the little one’s eyes are darting around like Groucho after a joke.
And he goes brave and says …
“It was definitely ‘shit’, alright. Yup … ‘shit’.”
Now they were all in. All three of them.
Officially. In the Shit Game.
Back to the oldest.
“Yeah, it was definitely shit” …
And looking straight at me says …
“Did you say ‘shit’?”
Not me. I can’t play. I’m the dad. I just look cool and stern … and try not to laugh.
And so the oldest picks up the pace … and goes for the ‘shit’ record.
“I don’t say ‘shit’, Dad. ‘Shit’ is bad word. If I said ‘shit’, well, ‘shit’ would get me in trouble. Right, Dad?”
Not today, pal. This is Shit Day … and it’s all fun.
Well … the shit doors were flung open … and for the next minute I heard as many shits as I heard on CNN all day yesterday.
And the oldest clearly breaks the ‘shit’ record.
“Oh, yeah. It was clearly shit. Didn’t you hear “shit’? I mean you’re not deaf to the word ‘shit’, are you?”
“No, I am not deaf to the word ‘shit’. I hear ‘shit’ all the time.” … says the middle one.
And turning to the youngest, says ….“Don’t you hear ‘shit’ a lot?“
“All day. I hear ‘shit’ all day. ‘Shit this … shit that …”
And he’s interrupted by the oldest … who feels he’s being out-shitted.
“Wait a second. No one hears ‘shit’ more than me. I hear ‘shit’ fifty times a day!”
And now I cock MY head … and put on that face that says this bit of edgy fun is done.
And I retreat. Trying not to laugh.
But in the mirror straight ahead, I see their relieved faces … and then hear the snorty giggles … because … the guys had their Shit Moment.
And just then … my wife appeared at the bottom of the stairs and says …
“What’s goin’ on?”
And I couldn’t resist…
“Nuthin‘. They’re just bein’ little shitheads.”
Take it away, CNN …
Cat’s in the Cradle …