Thursday, February 7, 2008

Fright Night

My youngest had homework tonight. He was supposed to make a list of the ten things that scare him the most. I'm not sure I always understand modern education. Teaching him fear is one thing I can do better than any teacher. But there you have it.

He started easily enough. Death. Death by burning. Death by falling. Death by suffocation. Living alone. ("Me too," I said to this last. "Please, please, please don't throw me in that briar patch.") Near the end, however, he ran into trouble. Fortunately my friend E., my oldest son, and I were there for him.

"Okay," he asked, "what else should I say I'm afraid of? I need one more."

"The Federal Reserve," I said.

"The mayor," said E. "He wants to raise your taxes."


"Cape buffalo," said my oldest. "The most dangerous animal on earth."

"That's stupid," said the youngest.

"Oh sure, if there was a Cape buffalo in the kitchen you wouldn't be scared," I said.

"There's not," he said.

"But if there was you'd be scared. Put it down."

"How about magma?" said E. "That's pretty scary."

"Or Komodo dragons," said the oldest. "They eat goats."

The youngest was trying to ignore us.

"Bankers can be frightening," I said. "So can the Trilateral Commission."

E. nodded. "Lingonberries too. They're bad news."

Our suggestions were coming fast and furious.

"Cookbooks. Especially ones written by celebrity chefs."

"Pakistan. And North Dakota."


"Your dad before he's had his coffee."

"Mom when she's studying."


"Bears. They can smell the menstruation."

"Holy water. It burns."

He was wearing a resigned expression, waiting for it to end.


"Oh, good one. Phlegm's scary. "

"Venomous butterflies."

"Cover bands."

"George Bush."

"Bingo night."

He considered that one momentarily.


"Michael Jackson."


E.'s phone rang. His wife was calling.

"Hi, what's up?" He listened for a moment.

"I'm helping Snag's kid with his homework." He listened again. By his expression she didn't appear to think this was a good idea.

"Sorry buddy, gotta go," he said, hanging up. "Think you have enough suggestions?"

The boy looked at him with haunted eyes and shrugged.

"Don't worry, we can take it from here," I said.

As E. left the youngest started writing.

"What are you putting down?" I asked.

"Never mind." He finished and packed his homework away.

"Don't be too scared. Daddy loves you. Just watch out for Cape buffalo. I saw one in the backyard fighting a bear."

He went downstairs to watch TV while I started dinner, glad I could once again help my children with their academic and emotional growth. If he doesn't get an A on this assignment I'll visit the school personally. If that doesn't scare him nothing will.


Jennifer said...

I would have to add toupee-wearing crickets. Those are very, very scary... and the raptor that lives behind my furnace... and the wooly bison that sometimes visits my bedroom when I'm half-asleep... and the way the swing set looks like a gallows in the twilight... and tripe... and Snag's blog one day disappearing... and having no imagination. That would be the scariest of all.

Chuckles said...

Tripe soup is frightening.

Snag said...

Tripe soup is frighteningly delicious, you mean.

Jennifer said...

Tripe soup is frighteningly delicious, you mean.


fish said...

Wanna see something really scary? fish tripe soup

Mr. Middlebrow said...

Disraeli's hair.