By Ned Hickson
At age eight, my son is beginning to understand a fundamental truth regarding the complex nature of the male/female relationship, which he summed up with the following conclusion:
Girls make boys act stupid.
He then offered irrefutable evidence to support his theorem:
Brittany told Joey to act like a monkey at lunchtime. And he did. Until Mrs. Flipendorf caught him stealing someone's banana.
There was no debating his conclusion since it was clearly airtight. Instead, we discussed the ramifications of this groundbreaking sociological insight and how, as a man, he essentially had two options in catching a girl's attention. The first is to act cool; the second is to act like a monkey. As his father, it was my responsibility to break the news to him that, as my son, he better start working on the monkey thing.
I made this realization as early as the second grade, when, in an attempt to demonstrate my coolness and win the affections of Mary Avioni, I ate a handful of chalk dust. My coolness factor lasted approximately 2.5 seconds, which is how long it took for my stomach to send everything -- including my morning snack of Lorna Doones and milk -- back out with enough force to reach Mary Avioni's desk from six feet away.
Mercifully, God intervened and we moved three months later.
The following year seemed ripe for finally establishing my coolness. This decision was hastened by the arrival of a pretty Spanish girl named Zobada Sanchez, who immediately divided an entire class of third-grade boys into Cool Guys and Monkeys. I immediately devised a new plan for coolness. Something that had almost no chance of initiating my gag reflex.
I would, of course, win her over with my athletic prowess.
(Regular readers of this column: I know you already realize this was a big mistake but please stay with me.)
Re-living the details is still a little painful. I can tell you it was the best tetherball performance of my elementary school career. I can tell you I was a dominant force, delivering a thunderous game-winning blow so loud it could ALMOST be heard over the crowd of third-grade spectators, all of whom began screaming after witnessing my nose relocated to the back of my head when I was hit by my own kill shot. A special counselor was brought in to help my classmates deal with their trauma. Meanwhile, I was lying in the nurse's office with a nose roughly the size of a manatee, realizing my coolness would have to wait another year.
Mercifully, God intervened again and Billy Guthery barfed in the cafeteria on "Succotash" day -- a sight that easily eclipsed my historic face plant.
When I fell for Sarah Getlost in the fourth grade I was taking no chances. My father explained to me that women couldn't resist a man in uniform. He told me this while wearing a white T-shirt, Dickies pants and drinking a beer, so I had to take his word for it. My plan was to wait for our little league candy sale and go to her house dressed in my new baseball uniform.
In theory, it was a good plan.
In reality, Sarah Getlost answered the door wearing a cheerleader outfit, effectively neutralizing me. So, to impress her, I gave her my candy, a new baseball and all of my money. Needless to say my coolness was not established. Especially after my mother found out and I was forced to return to Sarah's house and ask for all my stuff back. I don't remember exactly what I said, only that it was awkward and involved a lot of gulping to keep my bile down.
After telling these stories to my son, he put an arm around my waist and shook his head.
"Yep," I said. "You better stock up on bananas."
You can write to Ned Hickson at:
The Siuslaw News at P.O. Box 10, Florence, OR 97439.