Stories on an afternoon drive

“I want a story!”

Hobbes is insatiable, absolutely relentless, when it comes to stories. He loves to have people read him books, or tell him stories, or watch stories, no matter what the medium. Even classical music must have a story, which he demands as soon as I put in any piece of music.

I tell you, I love my son, I really do, but sometimes I really want to put him in a box with packing peanuts and ship him to Thailand. And since the Guy had already plodded his way through a retelling of Three Little Pigs, followed by a recusant version of Goldilocks, I figured he’d had enough.

Apparently, he didn’t agree.

“I want a story! I want a story! Mommy, I want a story!”

“Don’t look at me,” the Guy said. “I already did my time.”

So had I. And I was tired. And run down. And nearing the end of my rope. “Fine,” I snarled. Which means, in wife language, I hate you.

“I want a story!”

I raised my voice. “Once upon a time, there was a duck named Bob. And he lived in a pond with other ducks. But then the farmer got hungry and ate him, so he died, the end.”

In terms of story structure, it had a beginning, a middle, and an end, which made it good enough. Maybe it wasn’t such a success in terms of dramatic tension, but it was a goddamn duck. Fuck dramatic tension.

“I want another story!”

“Once upon a time, there was a chicken named Alice. And she lived at a farm with other chickens until the farmer got hungry and ate her, so she died, the end.”

“I want another story!”

Once upon a time–” I will admit it, I was starting to sound a little bit crazed by this point, “there was a goat named Justin, and he lived at a farm with other goats until the farmer got hungry and ate him, so he died, the end.”

“Another story!”

Once upon a time there was a cow named Egbert and she lived at a farm with other cows until the farmer got hungry and ate her so she died the end!

There was a small, merciful silence then as Hobbes digested the hidden moral to the stories. The Guy glanced in the rearview mirror. “He’s got his hands behind his head,” he reported, “and he’s thinking.”

But not for long.

“I want a longer story!”

I gritted my teeth and prepared to give it my all.

“Once upon a time there was a farmer named William. And he had a cow, a goat, a chicken, and a duck. And he ate them. But then one day an alien came to visit, and it got hungry, so it ate the farmer all up the end the absolute end there is no more.

There was another silence from the back seat. Then: “Why did the alien eat him?”

Because the farmer was all fat from eating the cow, the chicken, the goat, and the duck!

“Aliens like to eat people,” the Guy said. “It happens all the time. Because they’re soft and squashy.”

“Like you,” I said darkly.

For a 3-year old fan of Star Wars, this news was not as dismaying as I would have thought. He looked more intrigued by the possibility than alarmed. At any rate, he didn’t ask for any more stories. I suppose he didn’t want to find out if there were things out there that ate aliens, too.

Shut up. I am an awesome parent.

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