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carrots, trampolines, girls and boys

And we're back. Sorry, small time away from blogging due to busy in-town week, late nights early mornings and (causal relationship) lack of sleep. (Don't worry about me being a martyr. This was work-related but fun too.) Meant to go to sleep early yesterday, but it was prom time and my two eldest had parties to be driven to. I'm still a bit groggy, but duty calls me to the keyboard. All right, I'm a martyr to my blog. More on boys and girls today. A few years ago I was serving dinner to a collection of teen friends of my kids, boys on one side of the table, girls on the other. Everyone has to eat their veggies at my place but no one likes the same ones, so we'd found a lowest common denominator: raw carrot sticks. (Pretty darn low. If veggies were numbers, carrot sticks would be a 2, I figure.) One of the boys began nibbling daintily on the end of his carrot, tapering it to a point. Before I was fully aware of his intent he had turned to the guy next to him and, with a savage cry, stabbed him in the chest. "Take that!" he cried, flourishing his carrot-blade around. Well, before you could say methahemaglobinemia (the word appears on the first page of my new book; it's going to skew the reading level to hell), the boys' side of the table was busy nibbling their carrots into swords, then reaching into the middle the table for more (stockpiling weapons! This is where it begins). A full- fledged fight ensued, thrusts and parries and cries of anguish. Across the table, the girls regarded the exuberant display with open-mouthed, wide-eyed incomprehension. Was this the stupidest thing they had ever seen? I think it was. I smiled with sympathy for both sides. I am enough of a grown-up to realize that the boys were behaving idiotically. But I am enough of a little boy to think: Yeah, sword-fight. I was reminded of this incident yesterday. On my way to the grocery store I stopped at a stop sign (what are you smiling at? I always stop at stop signs) by a house with a trampoline in the front yard, where a girl -- maybe 11 years old -- was bouncing sedately. When I drove back, the trampoline had been taken over by two younger wild-eyed boys, who were circling each other in giant leaps, swinging inflatable plastic hammers (the kind of thing I win at fun fairs when everyone has to win something), knocking each other down and bouncing back up again. I wondered if the girl was staring and shaking her head. This was, after all, dangerous and stupid behaviour. I laughed so hard I nearly ran the stop sign. Nearly.


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