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05/07/2005

Stick with me, kid

When Charlie is fractious, I look into his furious blue eyes and I threaten to send him places. I do this, of course, in the most soothing and sugared of tones, crooning lovingly, stroking his face with a gentle fingertip as I describe with relish the places he'll go.

Thrilling destinations include:

  • ferrying a canary down the deepest shaft in the busiest coal mine in turn-of-the-century West Virginia;
  • chained to the back bench of the galley of a leaky Venetian scaloccio, plying the tiniest of oars beside the sweatiest of convicts; and
  • a comfortable nest of rags in a Dickensian workhouse circa 1832.

(That last threat usually precedes a spirited mother-and-son promenade around the house, with me bellowing in my best baritone, "One boyyyyyyyy...boy for saaaaaaale!" And then, just for fun, I try to pick Charlie's pocket.)

Sometimes — okay, often — I threaten to send him to the glue factory.

Sometimes I call him Elmer.

He wouldn't make much glue, I know. Paul points this out to me on a regular basis. "But he'd make," I insist, "at least enough for a glue stick."

He corrects me. "Just enough for a postage stamp."

I privately think we'd get at least two stamps' worth, but there's no need to quibble. The glue factory it is. Hey, the world needs stamps.

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