Because my son’s rational defense mechanism will not allow for the possibility of his being at fault in relation to any number of things that might go wrong, he developed the “shallow pockets” theory. He did not lose his $3. His $3 fell out of his shallow pockets. In this way it was his mother’s fault that the $3 was lost, you see, because she is the fool who bought the shallow pocketed pants. “Let’s just follow this to its logical conclusion,” I interjected, “and blame the Big Bang itself for banging into a universe with the possibility therein of 9-year-old boys losing $3. Stinking Being!” I banged the dining room table with my fist, “Why is there something instead of nothing when that something leads to losing $3?” I was shaking my fist in the air, now, in contempt of Being. Sometimes, Jackson looks at me in a way that denotes hatred. He asked if I was finished. “So then,” he continues, “Anthony The Goon finds MY $3 and he knows that I have shallow pockets and that I just lost it, but he picks it up and says ‘Hmmmm. Today must be my lucky day.’” Jackson’s sense of moral decency was seriously transgressed. He was hot. “Anthony The Goon is such an idiot. He even believes in the tooth fairy—“
“Jackson!” I interrupted, but the damage was done. Lucy’s eyes were shocked big. Calamari took his napkin off his lap, threw it on the table, gave Jackson an evil eye that contained devious promises, and stormed off in a huff. “Dude!" I cried, "How many times do you need to be asked to not question the ontological status of fantasy when Calamari is over for dinner?” Lucy made some goofy mourning noise that 4-year-old girls make. You had to be there. It sounded like a door creaking or a pissed off cat or something. Our house has lately been a war zone between Jackson and Calamari with poor Lucy caught in the middle.
Calamari is my daughter’s 16-year-old boyfriend. Sometimes he manifests concretely in a large Raggedy Andy doll. You might find Lucy passionately kissing Calamari if you round the wrong corner at the wrong time. Other times, when he is not needed in kissable form, he is just there. My relations with Calamari are what you might call “strained”. The cats don’t like him either. We think he’s a touch old for Lucy, but we’re not as radical as Jackson. “C’mon Dad. Calamari’s not even real.” Again, Lucy lets fly with the 4-year-old rusty gate noise. “Jackson, listen. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it forevermore: Your imagination IS real.”
You know that old theme where the pastor’s daughter goes all whore crazy with 3 guys through her bedroom window? That theme is expressed in my home via Jackson’s wilting imagination. No aspect of parenting has caused me more suffering than watching the 8-year-old become the 9-year-old. Can you believe people call this growing up? It’s absurd. But, as I turn to Lucy, I know that she will go the same way as well. She’ll follow Jackson right into that dead world of facts with a realistic arrogance that bolsters itself, leaving their Dad behind in this fuller world of talking animals and ghosts.
“C’mon Lucy Blue,” I said, grabbing his plate before his dinner got cold, “Let’s go find Calamari.”