Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Despite my son Ethan's never ending quest to be the center of the known universe, much to my relief, he scarcely asks for anything materially. He rarely, if ever, asks for the usual childhood 'necessities' such as the latest, glittery Star Wars gadget, coolest skull-adorned clothes, or the standard childhood dream gift; a pony. He seems oddly satisfied by the smallish number of books, Lego's and art supplies stored neatly in his room. As a matter of fact, when guests visit our house, they are often surprised by the sparseness of his room. "Is your son studying for the priesthood?" they drunkenly ask. (Why is it our guests always seem to be inebriated?) With pride, I respond that my son's cell-like room would be the envy of the most ecclesiastical monk.

As Ethan barreled through his developmental stages and the need for blocks, puzzles, and miniature plastic farm animals became obsolete, George and I gleefully emptied his room of clutter. Our need for clean, open spaces quickly overpowered any desire to run to Target and restock his room with poorly-made, Chinese shit. Once our gargantuan, two car garage was filled with enough of Ethan's chewed up, mucous covered, stained cast offs, I would host my annual garage sale. I delighted in converting my driveway into something that closely resembled an exotic Moroccan bizarre stall. The stall's shelves, floors, and racks bulged with Ethan's formerly precious belongings, and like any good shopkeeper, I gratefully peddled my wares to the hundreds of frightfully polite bargain hunters good enough to take this crap off our hands. Despite my having to sell Ethan's toys and clothes for a tiny fraction of what I originally paid, I was happy to see a small child smile broadly for having scored a 'slightly used' BEN 10 action figure for 25 cents.

That deeply discounted BEN 10 action figure rekindled the memory of Ethan and I playing one of our favorite childhood games, 'Freakish-Fatal-Car-Accident.' You see, that particular BEN 10 was deeply troubled and had a nasty habit of driving drunk and losing control of his armor plated Hummer truck. BEN's careless, cavalier attitude to vehicular safety often resulted in serious injury to himself, his fellow passengers, and the plastic pedestrians that were unlucky enough to be on the streets when he took the wheel. Due to his hard-partying ways and poor driving record, BEN became the Lindsay Lohan of Ethan's room and was placed in toy box rehab. I prayed BEN would have better luck with sobriety in his new life and would become the dedicated super hero he was destined to be. On second thought, I doubted it, as the smoking, broken down mini van BEN and the child disappeared into looked pretty rough - I didn't see many armor plated Hummers in his future.

As the day progressed, my son Ethan's belongings found their way into the trunks of other battered mini vans, cars, trucks and in one case, a creepy out-of-state camper baring a frightening bumper sticker that read 'It's not stalking, if you love me back...'
Each item I sold jogged my memory of an 'important' childhood milestone achieved by our son such as Ethan's first nosebleed, his first projectile vomiting incident, and even the memory of the delightful, near-concussion I received when Ethan joyfully pounded me in the head with a wooden mallet, as I lay peacefully comatose on the floor of his room.

By noon, our 'bizarre' had come to an end. I quietly close our shop, and whatever odds and ends are left I happily donate to charity. Exhausted, I trudge up our staircase and finding Ethan's room divinely and serenely empty, I lay down on his Batman bedspread and happily pass out. I awake (seconds...minutes...hours?) later to find my son Ethan scrounging noisily around his room. Evidently he was late for a play date and couldn't find those hideous, one-of-the-seven-signs-of-the-impending-Apocalypse Croc shoes he tends to favor. Having finally located them under the bed, he shoves them on his feet, gives me a peck on the cheek and bolts from the room. I am surprisingly sad, for as my grownup son bounds out of the house, I rub my uninjured head and wish I hadn't sold that damn wooden mallet.

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