Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My Son, the Drunken Cowboy Bandit

We walked into a darkish gymnasium last night to see the displays created by my fourth-grade son's "Lego Club." Small groups had created really cute images from various countries, out of Legos. The displays were surrounded by foods that reflected each culture. (Though, I'm not sure why chicken nuggets were chosen to represent Egypt. Still, they were tasty.)

I'm also not sure why there was a DJ playing tunes. But, okay...

We did our rounds and saw some really cute creations. My son's group made an Irish castle, complete with a little Lego couple smooching in the back. (Don't they call it "snogging" in Ireland...or is that worse than smooching? I seem to remember Joyce referring to "snogging" in Portrait...)

Anyhoo, my little guys thought it was pretty cool: free treats; lots of kids running around; music playing. My younger son (second grade) started, at one point, to "dance." It was more of a jolly spasm: his arms would start to flop and then he would bounce. Once he really got into it, he started pointing his fingers at the ceiling like a cowboy bandit alternately shooting six guns at the moon during a campfire drunk.

There were some other kids "dancing" by the DJ. "Why don't you go dance?" I asked him.

"That would be kind of...weird," he said, wringing his little hands (like he sometimes does), unaware of any irony.

"Okay," I replied, and handed him a pretzel.

We walked around some more and he continued to "dance," the rhythm of the music and of the excitement of the night humming electrically through him...

Get it?
Why don't we grown-ups commonly bubble over like that? I know it is an old question, but what have we lost? Is it a simple issue of used-up endorphins? Either way, we don't get like that. And if we do, we get locked up in a nice, soft room.

Sometimes I watch the little fellows getting amped up about something and it makes me happy just to see their enthusiasm: hands clap uncontrollably; self-image gets forgotten. All you get with them is true, unbridled excitement. (In our house, it is wise to wear hearing protection on Christmas morning. I suggest something that cuts at least 30db.)

And, sometimes, that festive lunacy leads to great moments, like the one last night: "Dad," my son asked, yelling above the music with his hands cupped around his mouth for projection, "Can I hug you?"

(Now, why he asked me I have no idea. There's certainly no lack of hugs in the Matarazzo household and they are generally allowed without petition of any kind.)

"Of course, you can, ya nut," I said.

We hugged. We ate a few more questionably ethnic treats. We watched some more grade-schoolers do "the electric slide." We drove home through a soft spring night smelling of rain. I was smiling, and not just because I was free of the DJ's offenses against my musical integrity.


  1. "Snogging" in the UK and Ireland is what we called "French kissing" or a variety of other euphemisms, like "tonsil hockey," here (at least when I was in high school). At any rate, yes, "snogging" tends to imply something a bit more intense than smooching.

    1. Well -- they were sort of...clicked together, so it seems "snogging" might not be too strong a term. Smooch was a little weak for the way it appeared. Okay, I just creeped myself out a little.

    2. Take a deep breath and think about the drunken cowboy bandit dance instead.

    3. Much better. Thanks for talking me down, 'nora.

  2. If more grown-ups could just let go of their grown-upness and embrace that little inner kid we'd all be so much happier.