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Birdie Jaworski

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Member Since: Dec, 2007

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Love Potion Number 9
By Birdie Jaworski
Saturday, December 08, 2007

Rated "G" by the Author.

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My son brings a strange household item to school for Show and Tell!

My middle son attends the fourth grade. He's nine years old, but he stands taller than every nine, ten, and eleven year-old kid at his school. He takes after his father that way, and someday, I tell him, he will stand six-feet-four and see the world as a hair part sea beneath him. My other sons love me best, love me more than anyone else on the planet. But 9 loves his dad, walks in his dad's long hip-to-foot rolling way, talks like his dad in measured thoughtful pauses, and wants to play the same Baroque-era music, live like an unlikely neatnik musician. Both my middle son and my ex-husband are strange renaissance time warp travelers. They whistle Bach and keep courtly manners, wear silly long white tube socks with sneakers, discuss Libertarian politics and play the ancient game of Japanese war strategy called Go. All my friends call 9 the "old man." I call him that too.

Mrs. M teaches my son's fourth grade class. She loves the way 9 offers to erase the board and collect the milk cartons and candy wrappers littering the school yard. Some of the kids think 9's a suck-up. But I know better, and Mrs. M does, too. She likes law and order, a neat and tidy room, neat and tidy homework. She lets him lead the class to flag assembly and asks him to help restless kids with math problems. Old men are patient. They know how to fix things. They know how to stand tall and explain fractions. They don't cut corners. They see things as they are. Mrs. M thinks my old man rocks.

Mrs. M called me during lunch break this week. My first thought was that 9 tripped and broke a body part. Old men can be forgetful, can trip over air molecules and run nose first into swinging tether balls and mangy soccer girls in pigtails. But no, Mrs. M said, no, 9 didn't have a playground accident. This is about Show and Tell.

"I just wanted to know if this was your idea," Mrs. M asked with hesitation. Her voice hovered in the air above me as I recalled the frantic morning rush, the slam of peanut butter sandwiches into paper bags into backpacks, the quick fumble way I signed the homework papers and scrounged the couch cushions for milk money.

"I have to be honest, Mrs. M. I have no idea what 9 brought for Show and Tell. He usually tells me ahead of time because he likes to practice his speech in front of me. What did he bring? Star Trek stuff? His stamp collection?" I scanned the room and noticed his cello still resting against the couch. Well, it wasn't that.

Mrs. M cleared her throat. I could hear her gather her wits, try to put them in order, the same silent creeping confusion vine that attacks those who interact with 9 over any length of time. And in the everlasting millisecond of quiet I perked my ears to listen and discern whether the parrot, dog, cat, guinea pigs and iguanas were still under my control.

"I warned the students that I had a meeting with the superintendent's office this morning, and so Miss Linda would be taking over for Show and Tell. I told them no funny business, no animals, nothing that would give her trouble. Everyone knows about last year's pizza party incident."

Oh crap, did he take the iguanas? It had to be the iguanas. I heard the parrot whistle and the scurry foraging of pigs and hamsters. I wasn't sure about this pizza party incident but I remembered something about a food fight and a secret bottle of hot pepper flakes some trouble maker brought to school. Oh man, what did my kid do?

"Yes? Just tell me. What did he bring. I have no idea." My voice sounded six octaves higher than usual. Maybe 9 shared his mild case of athlete's foot. Or the gay pride flag poster I keep meaning to frame. Or one of 17's music disks with adult lyrics and coochie mamas on the cover.

"He brought Avon." Mrs. M separated the words, accented "Avon" with a psychic drumroll, made Avon sound like rapping coochie mamas with athlete's feet.

"He did? Avon? Really? Well, that isn't bad, is it?" I laughed, pictured old man 9 handing out a brochure to the short girl with the wavy red hair who always picks her nose and eats the evidence. But Mrs. M didn't return my laughter.

"It wasn't just an Avon book or one of those Christmas ornaments. He brought some men's grooming product. The Pro Extreme Ab-Firm." I heard her pick up the tube, imagined her adjusting reading glasses to examine the label, read it out loud. This product arrived with my last Avon shipment, a demonstration tube of cream designed to make men's tummies look sleek, ripped, exciting.

Mrs. M continued her explanation in a world weary voice. 9 showed the class the silver tube and announced that childhood obesity was a growing problem in the United States. He read about it in the Los Angeles Times, he said, six out of ten kids in the fourth grade have a weight problem, and Avon has something that can help. He opened the bottle, squeezed out a dollop, lifted his shirt and applied the product, reciting a litany of the lotion's benefits. Get that six-pack girls love! Good for love handles too! Now everyone at school can be trim, he explained, and passed the tube around the class. Miss Linda sat still, a young substitute statue, mouth hanging open, as amazed at 9's eloquent discussion of childhood obesity as she was at the product demonstration. She confiscated the tube, held it for Mrs. M to see at lunch.

"Frankly, I'm happy to see children have an awareness about childhood obesity issues, but your son should not be bringing adult products into the classroom."

I apologized, promised I would talk to 9, make sure it would never, ever, happen again, and hung up the phone. I walked to my Avon storage pile and grabbed a stack of unlined paper and a red marker. Keep Out! Private! Mom Only! No Kids and That Means YOU 9! I covered my boxes with warning signs. I picked up the new Avon Men's Catalogue and looked at the Ab-Firm model, tanned flexed abs rippling and oiled, and pictured 9 leading Mrs. M's fourth grade class to the next flag assembly, shirts raised in solidarity, not a speck of baby fat among them.

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Reviewed by Sandra Corona 1/4/2008
Wonderful story :)!

Reviewed by Beau Fincher 12/11/2007
This story is hilarious! I have a 7,8 &12, and I could visualize this perfectly.

Hand in Glove by Paddy Bostock

Never judge a zebra by its stripes.....  
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