This is the way the world ends…

“The is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but with a…” – TS Eliot

It was a Tuesday morning when the first brimstone fell. Crashing onto vehicles, and landing on the streets, it made traffic quite a hassle. Many drivers simply crashed headfirst into the cataclysmic debris or confusedly stopped and honked for minutes on end. Despite all the honking, the brimstone didn’t move, and it didn’t stop. And neither did the apocalypse.

Of course it made the news when the horses began to eat each other. And the blood rain obviously made the weather report. Everybody knew about it, but it seemed that most people simply did not care. Religious groups panicked, and many of the feeble-minded snapped, but they were in the minority. People had jobs to go to, and families to feed. It wasn’t the first time horrible events were broadcast on the news.

Sure it was bad when the first plague began. And when it swept the world, killing millions, there was a charity concert to help raise money for a cure. Some people donated, but most chose not to. The United States managed to avoid the worst of the plague’s casualties, but its citizens still felt bad about it. Thoughts and prayers were sent, Facebook profile pictures were changed, but hardly anyone lost sleep over it.

It was far from ideal when the swarms of locusts arrived. Food was scarce for a while, but eventually pesticides were developed to deal with the problem. The fruits and vegetables grew once more, you just had to wash them first. The dead locusts made excellent fertilizer when they were processed and ground down.

A child was born on July 6th, at 6:00 PM with goat horns and a birthmark the shape of an upside down cross. In just a few days he grew into an adult, and became a sensation on American Idol for his appearance and angelic voice. One night he gave a famous speech in which he promised to lead America through the apocalypse and announced his candidacy for president. Some people voted for him, but most didn’t.

When the four horsemen arrived, they all got interviews on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. They spread messages of humanity’s guilt and inevitable punishment. These were broadcast in diners, bars, restaurants, and businesses across the country. People watched, just as they watched all the rest of the news, but little changed.

People still worked 40 hour work weeks, went to school, bought groceries, and continued their lives. It got a little bit harder when the portals to hell split open and hot magma leaked through cracks in the Earth. Nevertheless, people had their own personal dramas to deal with and were largely unfazed.

It was a Tuesday morning when the world ended. There was no defining moment of realization or mass panic. No overreaction or upheaval. There were no widespread riots, and few even quit their jobs.

Rather, when the deafening fires of the apocalypse spread throughout the world it was found that the way the world ended was not with a bang, but with an indifferent sigh.

(This story was recently written by my sixteen-year-old son, Daniel, for his creative writing class. I’ll tell you this, I sure couldn’t write that well at his age!)

 

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See what (made-up) people are saying about Watching the End of the World!

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000040_00014]“This book is the greatest thing since sliced bread! Literally. I will now never eat sliced bread again.” – Tom Fool

Watching the End of the World saved my cat’s life! Really, Fluffy was lying on the couch bored nearly to death and I read it to her and now she’s all better!” – Totally Not-Crazy Cat Lady

“If my plane crashed in the Andes and I was the only survivor I’d want to have Watching the End of the World with me. I could use it to fight off bears.” – Grizzly Steve

“Because of this book I now think I will survive the winter. The pages burn really well in my fireplace.” – Steven “Brrr” Wildman

“And it came to pass that on the nine-millionth day I did read Watching the End of the World and yea, it was good.” – God (Author’s note: I’m especially proud of this one. God’s very busy and doesn’t have much time to read.)

Continue reading “See what (made-up) people are saying about Watching the End of the World!”

Rental Child

fall-651020_960_720“Finish up Johnny.  The men are here.  They don’t like to wait.”

“What men?” asked five-year-old Johnny.

“The men from the child rental place.  They’ve come to take you back.”

“They’re going to take me away?” Johnny asked, his eyes growing wide.

“Of course!  Goodness, you didn’t think we were going to keep you, did you?  Silly boy.”  Joan grinned at him.  “Now hurry up.  They’re very busy men and they don’t like to be kept waiting.”

Continue reading “Rental Child”

It’s the Great Pumpkin Conspiracy, Charlie Brown!

Have you ever noticed how every year about early October tons of pumpkin-flavored crap suddenly sprouts up everywhere? Pumpkin coffee, pumpkin bread, pumpkin beer, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin gasoline—the list goes on and on. And that stuff hangs around and hangs around—like that nasty carbuncle on your lip you just can’t get rid of—until after Christmas. (Tip: do not click on that carbuncle link if you’re eating. Unless your computer/tablet/phone/whatever is barf-proof.)

Do you like any of that stuff? Do you know anyone who actually does?

The answer to both of those, unless you’re a freak, is no. No freaking way. No one does.

So why is there so much of it?

Two words. Pumpkin cartel.

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(random pumpkin picture, in case you already drifted off)

Yeah, and now you’re thinking, That’s silly. There’s no such thing as a pumpkin cartel. What kind of idiot does this guy take me for?

Well, first of all, I don’t take idiots. I have one and that’s quite enough, thank you. Second of all, the fact that you don’t know anything about the pumpkin cartel (PC) is proof of how powerful and dastardly they really are.

You see, they’re making a lot, I mean, a lot, of cheddar off pumpkins. And they won’t tolerate any threats to that sweet, sweet cash. So if they get wind of anyone getting wise to them, well, they just up and take ‘em out, Ichabod Crane-style (more on this in a moment).

First, we will disprove the lies the PC has spread about “pumpkins being a Halloween tradition.” We will do this by examining the origin of Halloween.

The Halloween we celebrate today is based mostly on the old Gaelic holiday Samhain. It was believed that on this day spirits could more easily come into the realm of the living. To make sure the people and their livestock would survive the winter, the spirits had to be appeased using food, drink, or crops.

That’s it. Nothing to do with pumpkins. What would spirits want with a pumpkin anyway? If you were dead, would you want a pumpkin at your party? No. You wouldn’t.

The reason pumpkins are part of Halloween is because of John Jacob Astor, one of America’s first truly rich people. In 1815 Astor inherited a massive pumpkin farm from his uncle. That farm annually produced approximately half a million pumpkins, or about one for each sixteen Americans at that time. Why his uncle grew so many pumpkins no one knows. He was doubtless deranged.

astor_iv_john_jacob_capitalist_inventor_stickers-r73f1f50e5d4d48a29acd69a4ab28a5ce_v9waf_8byvr_512

(picture of JJ himself. back when a steak dinner

and forty acres cost one cent he was worth millions of pumpkins)

So here’s John Jacob, got a half million pumpkins on his hands and more on the way and no idea what to do with them. A less-determined man would have just built a bunch of catapults and chucked (chunked?) those things right in the ocean, but JJ wasn’t one to give up. He was determined to find some way to get people to buy all those darned pumpkins.

It wasn’t an easy task. Just like today, no one liked the taste of pumpkins. He needed to find another use for them besides food. He tried turning them into furniture but that was no good. Too sticky. He tried turning them into shoes but they were too clunky.

Then, one day JJ was sitting at his desk with his whittling knife, trimming his fingernails (as he liked to do), a pumpkin in front of him, pondering his situation. Day turned to night and he still had no good ideas. In a sudden fit of rage, he went berserk on the pumpkin with his whittling knife, stabbing and gouging it again and again. When his fit of rage was spent, he noticed something that would forever change our nation for the worse.

There was a crude face carved into the pumpkin. A scary face.

A light bulb went on over his head. Scratch that. Too early for light bulbs. A torch went on over his head.

Scary face. Halloween. A marriage made in hell.

Halloween wasn’t much of a holiday back then, since most people couldn’t afford sugar and face it, what’s the point of Halloween without candy? But that meant he could easily break into the racket, push out the few chumps running it, and take it over for his pumpkins. Within a few short years you literally couldn’t call yourself a Halloweener (Halloweiner?) without having a couple carved pumpkins on your front porch. (Literally. He trademarked Halloween and if you said the word and weren’t within an arm’s reach of a pumpkin, a team of lawyers would swoop down on you out of nowhere and just litigate your ass from here to Kingdom Come.)

Fortunately, by 1820 at least one patriotic American realized what was happening and tried to warn the nation.

You’ve heard of Ichabod Crane, haven’t you? In the supposedly fictional story called “The Headless Horseman,” by Washington Irving, the hero is chased by a headless horseman. Ichabod flees across a river and thinks he’s safe, but the headless horseman throws his head at Ichabod and knocks him off his horse. In the morning, Ichabod has disappeared and all that is ever found of him is his hat lying by a shattered pumpkin!

Clearly, Irving knew about Astor’s evil plans even then, but was smart enough to know that if he came out publicly to warn people about them, something bad would happen to him.

That’s why he hid the warning in a harmless story!

Astor died a few years later under mysterious circumstances (most likely a pumpkin coup staged by his oldest son) and out of the ensuing power struggle the dreaded Pumpkin Cartel (PC) was born.

Not much interesting happened in the pumpkin world for the next 100 years or so. The PC consolidated its control of Halloween but didn’t do much expanding until its new leader took over in the 1920s. The new guy was a chap named Al Capone. Al got his start bootlegging during Prohibition and, while the money was sweet, he figured out early on that the real cash was to be made in pumpkins, not booze.

20110930_173049_Homebrew_Pumpkin

(warning: don’t try this at home! or anywhere, for that matter. pumpkins and beer are highly explosive!)

What he needed was to take over another holiday.

Before Capone came along, it was traditional to have a few nice zucchinis on your Thanksgiving table, or maybe some especially large turnips (turnips were very big in early 20th century America, before people realized how awful they tasted). Under Capone’s ruthless leadership, the PC made short work of the zucchini and turnip people who, let’s face it, were extremely poorly organized and also malnourished, especially the turnip people, who had to sit down and breathe hard every few steps and tended to burn easily in the sun.

With the zucchini and turnip people out of the way, things seemed like smooth sailing for Capone and his gang. Nothing to do but sit back and rake in the profits.

There was just one little problem: Bugs Moran and the Potato Syndicate. Bugs was an Irish mobster and he’d gotten the idea that the potato should be the official tuber of Thanksgiving.

All-out war ensued, culminating in the Valentine’s Day Massacre, where Bugs and his top lackeys were wiped out. When the dust settled, pumpkins ruled Thanksgiving.

Over the next fifty years the PC grew into a secret society on par with the Illuminati, complete with the crazy wigs and silly rituals involving members wearing live chickens on their heads while dancing the Charleston. But, as powerful and wealthy as they were, they were clearly a decaying, moribund society destined for the toilet bowl of history.

Until the 1980s when a little-known, mild-mannered fellow known as Bill Gates took the reins of power in a violent revolution against then-leader Kim Yong Il (also known for running North Korea for some time; I told you this was a vast secret organization) that ended with Kim saying “uncle” (in Korean, of course) and taking his henchmen and going home.

bill-gates-funny-grin-face

(behold, my newest invention: invisible pumpkins!)

Gates, you see, had a wider vision for the future. No longer happy with just forcing people to buy a couple pumpkins and choke down a pumpkin pie or two (something no one, absolutely no one, would eat until whipped cream was invented), he saw a future where pumpkins dominated all the holidays. Not only would they be used as decorations, but people would eat them.

Everyone, even his own evil and quite nerdish henchmen, thought Gates was crazy. But he had recently come up with an idea for a product that no one knew they wanted or needed, called a computer. He knew that he could get these things into the homes and businesses of millions of people and through them he could introduce viruses directly into human brains. These viruses would have only one function: to suppress people’s natural gag reflex to eating pumpkin-flavored things. (Notice how the computers we use are called PCs? As in Pumpkin Cartel? Coincidence?)

And that is why pumpkin-flavored crap inundates our society in the last quarter of every year. Most people, addicted to their computers and tablets and smartphones, aren’t even aware of it. They just mindlessly accept it. Gates’ plan has worked even better than he expected, to the point that he had to quit his computer company a few years ago so he could dedicate himself full time to his true passion.

It’s time to fight back. What should we do? you ask. Honestly, I have no idea. I’m just a conspiracy theorist. I don’t have actual, useful ideas. I just know you need to do something.

Otherwise, don’t be surprised to see Santa wearing an orange suit one of these days.

(Borrowed from The Mad Mustache Conspiracy, written by me and my sons, Daniel and Dylan.)

The Swiss Cheese Conspiracy

Surely you’ve noticed how Swiss cheese is full of all those little holes. But have you ever really thought about it? Have you ever wondered what happened to the cheese that was in those holes?

Probably, like most “normal” people, you haven’t wondered about this. Probably, you’ve just gone on buying and eating Swiss cheese without a care in the world, never thinking about the massive conspiracy behind that innocent little block of dairy goodness.

Picture this. You’re just some happy-go-lucky schmuck going to the store to buy some cheese. There’s two blocks of cheese on the shelf. One is good, old-fashioned, patriotic American cheese and the other is Swiss cheese. They’re both the same size. They cost about the same. In a moment of unpatriotic whimsy you decide to buy the Swiss. Why not try something new?

Because you are being robbed blind. And you are aiding an international conspiracy.

That block of Swiss cheese is riddled with holes. By our scientific estimates (which included looking at a block of Swiss cheese for a while and arguing about it) about 25% of that cheese you just bought is nothing but air.

You, sir, (or madam; we’re not sexists here) have just been cheated. You thought you were buying a block of a cheese of certain dimensions but actually you only got 75% of that amount. The rest goes right into the pockets of one of the biggest conspiracies in the history of the world:

The Swiss Cheese Conspiracy (SCC).

Here’s what happens. Through nefarious means known only to them, but that probably include lots of people with tiny little hands and miniature ice cream scoops in a sweatshop, the Conspiracy scoops out 25% of all newly-made Swiss cheese. They sell what’s left to the unwitting public at, of course, a huge profit (since they only have to supply 75% of the product at 100% of the price).

What they do with the tiny balls of Swiss cheese is unknown to us at this time, though we can, and will, speculate wildly. One theory, the boring one, is that they take all those tiny balls of cheese and smash them into new blocks of cheese which they again scoop out and sell, over and over until there is nothing left.

One theory is that the tiny balls of cheese are sold to the Chinese as aphrodisiacs for panda bears, but we have not been able to substantiate that.

Maybe the Swiss just sit around tossing the little balls of cheese into each other’s mouths and laughing at what stooges we are.

No one knows for sure.

Now you are asking yourself, “Who is behind this dastardly conspiracy and should we be frightened?” (Or perhaps you’re just asking yourself why you’re still reading this silly column.)

The answers to those questions are: the Swiss and yes. Very, very afraid.

Let us clarify. It started as just a Swiss conspiracy, but it has naturally grown beyond their tiny borders. They have established footholds in every major country in the world, co-opting ordinary citizens, purchasing politicians, and in some places, even taking over large tracts of land.

Oh no, you say. You’re all crazy, you say. That can’t be. Show me some proof.

  1. How about this? How about the state of Wisconsin? That’s where most of the Swiss cheese in the US is made and it is totally controlled by the SCC. Just look at the name of the state for cheddar’s sake! Wisconsin. That is only one letter off from Swissconsin. Can you really claim that is just a coincidence? The clues are there, right before your eyes, but you just refuse to see.

If you still need further proof that Wisconsin is controlled by the SCC, then how else do you explain those funny (though admittedly adorably cute) accents they have? Listen to the Swiss talk sometime. Then mix that with English. What you get is what Wisconsonians speak. Case closed.

Finally, I ask you one simple question: Have you ever bought grated Swiss cheese? No. You haven’t. Because it doesn’t exist. Because if it was grated, people would suddenly wake up to the truth of what is happening. They would see how little cheese they were actually getting.

If anyone was to ever attempt to package and sell grated Swiss cheese they would immediately come to the attention of the SCC and be shut down. We’re not saying the shutdown would be violent, but we are saying it would probably involve taking a nice, long nap in a vat of liquid Swiss cheese. Shoot, you can’t even post a recipe online using grated Swiss cheese. The web crawlers the SCC uses are super powerful, like way powerful, and they would find your recipe in minutes. Then the SCC secret yellow-ops team would come rappelling down your chimney and it would get ugly.

How dangerous and powerful is the SCC? Well, we did some exhaustive research to discover how much Swiss cheese is made worldwide (we Googled it) and you know what we found? Nothing. We don’t know how much Swiss cheese is made every year. Which is proof that they are hiding it from us. After all, if they had nothing to hide, then Google would know and tell us when we asked. So we went to our auxiliary sources (we argued about it and made up numbers) and we came up with the following total: Eleventy-billion pounds.

What? That’s crazy, you say. But it’s not. It’s true. Because we said so.

If you take our number, and you multiply it by how much the cheese sells for and factor in the fact that they only sell 75% of the actual product and do God-knows-what with the rest, you’ll see that the SCC makes about 102 bazillion dollars a year. That’s bazillion with a “B”!

Now you’re getting some idea how powerful the SCC really is. And how dangerous this information is.

What happens from here is up to you. It’s up to all of us. Do we allow this madness to continue, or do we stand up and say Enough!

The future of your children may depend on your answer.

(Near) Death in the Daintree

There’s this rain forest in Australia called the Daintree and I nearly died there at the hands of a madman.

Perhaps I should explain.

Twenty years ago or so I quit a teaching job and took off to see Australia. I flew to Cairns (pronounced “cans”) in northeastern Australia with a few grand in the bank and plans to hopefully spend six months there through a combination of scrounging whatever (illegal) work I could and absolutely pinching every penny I had to death. I was traveling alone because all my friends were either busy being responsible, hardworking adults, or were broke-ass deadbeats.

I spent a couple days in Cairns and decided it would be fun to go north to Cooktown. I could have hitched but I was still a little freaked out at being that far away all alone so I opted for the next cheapest option, ride sharing. Gas (or petrol, as they call it for some odd reason) is bloody expensive in Oz, so people do a lot of ride sharing when they have a long trip to go on. It works like this: Tom wants to go to Cooktown and he has a car. But the petrol is going to cost him an arm and a leg. So he puts up a note on the board in one of the local backpackers (they’re like hostels; you share a room with a bunch of other people and save a lot of money) offering a ride in exchange for sharing the gas expense. Eric wants to go to Cooktown but is too cheap for a bus, so he calls Tom. Tom picks him up. They drive to Cairns. End of story.

Unless Tom is a madman.

I knew the day was going to be interesting when we’d been driving for a few minutes and he casually said, “I think we’ll take the short cut through the rain forest, eh mate?” (Try to imagine all dialog in this post with an Australian accent. It will make the experience more immersive.)

Now, what I should have said was, “There’s no such thing as a short cut through a freakin’ rain forest, you damned idiot! The words ‘short cut’ and ‘rain forest’ don’t even go together!”

Instead I double checked our ride. Maybe I just imagined we were riding in a Toyota station wagon. Maybe we were really in a Landcruiser. No, it was a station wagon. Maybe Tom was pulling my leg. The Australians have been known to “wind up” Americans for fun. No, he seemed serious. I should have gotten out of the car right then. But for some dumb reason I stayed cool and offered a noncommittal response.

The Daintree Rain Forest is, as the name implies, a rain forest. Complete with lots of rain, mud and general jungle conditions. It is also home to numerous salt water crocodiles, which are generally considered to be the most vicious predator on the face of the planet. You see, your friendly neighborhood shark isn’t a huge fan of human meat, being filled with preservatives and such, and is only interested in hunting when he’s hungry. Crocs, on the other hand, can’t eat you fresh. They want to eat you after you’ve been rotting for a week or so, because you’re lots more tender then. So he hunts when he’s not hungry, whenever the opportunity presents itself.  And salt water crocs, of all the members of the croc family, seem to consider humans as great entrees.

But wait, you’re thinking. Eric called them salt water crocs. He’s going through the rain forest. That’s fresh water. Good. You’re paying attention. The problem with your reasoning is Mr. Salt Water Croc has no problems with swimming miles and miles up fresh water rivers, finding a nice little pond in the middle of nowhere and waiting for some fool to come along and, I don’t know, wash the mud off him in the pond. He can run 35 miles per hour in short bursts and leap clean out of the water if he wants.

Enough about the crocs. I’m setting you up. For the record, I did not almost get eaten by one. I just find them truly terrifying creatures and wanted to spread my fear to you, in case you ever think about getting one at the pet store.

So there I was in a Corolla station wagon, driving into the rain forest with a madman. It was, of course, muddy, and raining. Because it’s a rain forest. Every mile or so we passed another sign saying something like: Danger! Four wheel drives only! This means you, you idiot!

I pointed out the first couple signs but Tom just laughed them off in true Australian madman style. “That’s just to scare the tourists. We’ll be right, mate!”

We did see other vehicles, all of them looking like something you’d see on a National Geographic expedition. Their occupants all pointed and stared. My uneasiness grew.

Tom’s approach to the bad stretches of road, of which there were many, was to wind the little motor up and charge headlong into the morass. While laughing wildly, perhaps even maniacally. We slid sideways as often as forward. There was much crashing through rivers and flying up steep hills. There were many opportunities to consider fiery death while we were sliding towards a wicked drop off on the side of the road. I remember eyeing my backpack in the back seat and thinking, If he slows down enough, I’m grabbing that and jumping out. I’ll walk back to town.

Finally came the hill he just couldn’t make it up. Ruefully, he said, “I reckon we’ll have to turn back.”

Best thing I heard all day. I started thinking I was going to live after all.

Then it happened. We came to a stretch with deep ruts carved into it. Somehow, we’d made it across the first time, but now our luck ran out. The wheels dropped down into the ruts and we were going nowhere. Tom suggested I push and when I got out, the mud was so slick I immediately fell down. It was like someone spread oil over ice. I’m not kidding.

I skidded around back to push and then forgot everything I ever knew about getting a vehicle out of mud. (Growing up on a ranch, I know a bit about this subject.) I positioned myself behind the drive wheel. Which meant that when Tom stomped the gas, mud sprayed me head to toe. Literally.

Tom laughed so hard I thought he’d have a stroke. He suggested I clean off if I wanted to ride in his car anymore. There was a river nearby – big surprise, in a rain forest – and a decent-sized pool. However, due to the aforementioned crocs, I was a little apprehensive so I pretty much cleaned off by the following method: Dash up to the water’s edge. Splash on a couple handfuls. Dash back. Watch for crocs. Repeat. All of which Tom found equally funny.

I got back in the car. It rained some more. I was feeling pretty glum. Tom was downright chipper. I concluded he was insane.

“How the hell are we getting out of here?”

“Something will come up.”

Lunatic.

Finally this giant expedition vehicle came along. Eight wheels. Gear lashed all over the top. About ten tourists sitting in it. It stops. The driver rolls down his window. I’m thinking, Great. This guy can pull us out no problem. We’re saved.

“You boys have food?” Sort of. “Because you’re going to need it. Looks like you’re going to be here for a while.” (All the while the tourists are snapping pictures of us like crazy. Look, Martha. Here’s our pictures of those dumbasses in a Corolla stuck in the rain forest! Wonder if they’re dead.)

Then the rat bastard rolled up his window and drove away. I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to feed his smug ass to the crocs.

Well, to cut this all short, someone finally did tow us out. By the time we got back on the highway the car was completely covered in mud. There was no visibility through any of the windows, except for the windshield where Tom’s one working wiper worked only poorly. Freed of the restraints of bad roads and mud, Tom proceeded to drive at approximately the speed of sound through mountain roads, careening into the opposite lane half the time, practically blind because of the mud. I only thought we were going to die in the rain forest. On the highway I was sure of it.

Long after dark we rolled into Cooktown. Sitting in a pub, Eric guzzling beers in an attempt to soothe his nerves, and Tom says, “My car before this was also a Corolla wagon.”

“Oh, yeah?” I reply. “What happened to it?”

“I rolled it.”

Big surprise there.

Rental Child

“Finish up Johnny.  The men are here.  They don’t like to wait.”

“What men?” asked five-year-old Johnny.

“The men from the child rental place.  They’ve come to take you back.”

“They’re going to take me away?” Johnny asked, his eyes growing wide.

“Of course!  Goodness, you didn’t think we were going to keep you, did you?  Silly boy.”  Joan grinned at him.  “Now hurry up.  They’re very busy men and they don’t like to be kept waiting.”

“But I thought … ”  His voice quavered and the brown eyes filled with tears.

Joan sighed a little.  “So did I — once.  But that was before Bill and I realized how much work you really were.  New clothes, school, food, doctors when you’re sick.  My word.  Who would have ever thought one little boy could be so expensive.  And the time you take up!”  She rolled her eyes.  “We’re not as young as we once were you know — and you’re really not a very good child.”  She shook her head in wonderment.  “It’s a good thing we went for the option-to-own agreement.  Otherwise we might have been stuck with you the way the Smiths are stuck with little Joey.”

“But you’re my parents!” Johnny shrieked.  “You can’t send me away.  You borned me!”

“Borned you?  Whoever gave you that silly idea?  Probably that Joey kid.”  She shuddered.

“But I came out of your stomach.  Miss Jones said so at school!”

She laughed and ruffled his hair.  “You are a funny child!  That’s one of the things I might miss about you.  But children coming out of women’s stomachs…!  Well, that’s simply ridiculous.  As foolish as believing in a stork.  No, we picked you out at the child rental store like everyone else.  Now hurry up and finish your soup and try to be calm about it.  You don’t want them to have to put you in a sack do you?”  She waved out the window.  “You can come in now!  He’s almost ready.”

When she finally had him settled down and asleep, Johnny’s mother stood over him smiling.  She really thought she made a wonderful mother.  Children were so much fun, she thought.  The way they believed the most outlandish things.

And to think her friends had warned her that she’d find staying at home boring.