by Marie Rennard
(Swans - December 31, 2007 - January 1, 2008) The boss requires fun. Ho Lord. I barely know anything more difficult than having to be funny. And a housewife's life does not offer so many opportunities to laugh, you know, or just alone and only at such insignificant things they absolutely do not deserve writing a couple of lines on second-hand paper. Nothing funny ever happens to me. Except maybe... the chronic irruptions of my younger, eleven-year-old kid whenever I start working.
- MARIE... (He's never heard about addressing me on a reasonable sound level.)
- Marie, could you please lend me your computer?
- Definitely not. See, I'm trying to work something out, and it's hard enough without having you interrupting my thoughts every other second.
- But mum, I need your on-line dictionary to check words.
- Well, go and check in the paper dictionary. Good for you.
- Oh, shit mum, that takes too long. Please lend me yours. Or tell me the meaning.
Well, I'm always reluctant to tell him the meaning of a word. Not so much because I believe one remembers better when checking on one's own, but more because this boy has the knack of asking me for words I've never heard before, and I look more and more stupid every time. From lycanthropy to psychopomp, he's got a real talent for improbableness. But for now, I only aim at getting rid of him.
- Ok, tell me what are the words you're looking for -- I'll explain.
- Priapic and libidinous.
- ... Sorry? What-is-it-you-said?
- Priapic and libidinous.
- May I ask what you're reading?
- And you found those words in Stevenson?
- No I didn't. So what's the meaning?
Well, being a modern and performing mother is not all that one would believe, and clearly feeling the need for emergency diversion, I fully decided to ignore the wise advice of psychiatrists who don't have kids of their own and tell parents to answer any question in a clear and simple manner.
- Know what my boy? I was about to have a pause anyway, and I've baked a cake. Would you like some?
- With chocolate? Sure. Do you want me to make coffee?
- Yes dear, please.
We both sit at the table; I give him a huge portion of cake and ask:
- So, tell me about Stevenson. Enjoy it?
- Yes, the only thing is that it's a bit old-fashioned you know. Nobody would cross the seas in search of a treasure nowadays. So, about my words?
- Does the hero find the treasure? Is the cake tasty? Do you want some more?
- How should I know? I'm in the first half of the book. And yes twice.
I cut him some more. And ask again:
- Don't you have any lessons to learn?
- Yes, one. About civil rights. But don't worry, I know everything, including jurisdictional help and all the things the Nation does for indigents.
- Jurisdictional help? What's this about?
- Well, you know, proclaiming equality for all citizens was a good thing. But not enough to make it real. Rich and poor are not truly equal. So the poorest receive money for many things. Like "jurisdictional help." As I understood, this is money the poor are given so that they can pay the judges when they have a trial. Otherwise, they'd loose all the time.
One of these days, I'll choke at his fancy interpretations of things. But the good thing is that we are now far from hard-to-clearly-and-simply-deal-with-vocabulary. I try to increase my advantage by proposing him cake again.
- No mum, I do not want any more cake. I'd be sick. But tell me, is there any special word for this?
- This what?
- "Being sick with chocolate cake used as a means not to answer questions."
I openly check the clock and exclaim:
- Oh Lord, is that so late? Know what boy, for your words, check my on-line dictionary; I have to go to town. But tell me, where did you read them?
- I didn't read them. That's Alex. He was talking about his math teacher, and said he was sure you would appreciate him because he is priapic and libidinous.
I climb the stairs to get my jacket and stop by Alex's bedroom.
- Tell me boy. When am I supposed to meet your math teacher?
- You have to ask for an appointment if you want to speak with him.
- So please, ask him for me.
I wouldn't want to miss this guy. After all, a housewife's life does not offer so many opportunities to laugh.
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