Not long ago, a backyard gathering took place. Our grass and deck and patio were populated with folk we know and the kids the folk we know had created. Great kids on the whole. Two of these children are about the same age as The Child – my daughter. The key players to follow are The Child, the girl and the boy.
The Spouse had planned on delighting these three wee people with mini cupcakes, each carved from larger cupcakes, as I assume the baking process to be. That, or made tiny through the use of science and beams. In any event there were three delicately frosted treats and three kids. A crowd gathered, expensive photography equipment was readied, parents and friends shared knowing glances. Kids and treats: together at last.
Each kid was given a confection, and the adults in attendance began devouring the interactions. The Child and the girl licked frosting, nibbled cake, and then cautiously exchanged treats to see what the other had to nibble. The exchange was as tense as any kidnapping / ransom scenario Hollywood could ever produce. “Look, they’re like little people!” we said. And they were. Little people trying to get the upper hand and come out ahead with more of the other kids’ cake. “Child,” I said, “see if the boy wants to trade.” We all turned to the boy, oh, this was going to be great.
But the boy stood motionless three or four feet from the girls. His mouth was covered in cupcake crumbs– full of the part of the cupcake that hadn’t been reduced to crumbs. The realization set in. While The Child and the girl nibbled, tested and traded, the boy had crushed his cupcake in one mighty bite. With nothing to trade, he was out of the game. Cursed by his inborn drive to not only crush, destroy and consume, but to do it faster than anyone else in the vicinity, he was left standing there dejected. Cupcakeless due to the cruel physics of this world that demanded an eaten cake could not also be had, he launched headfirst into Sorrow. Steps were taken to intercept the overwhelming sadness we all saw coming. In the space of a minute all was well and we all laughed.
Later that evening, I slipped off to a secret place and cried a single tear. I usually only cry a single tear at a time, being too manly to gush. In a minute’s time, the boy’s cake conundrum had summed up every struggle and obstacle I had ever come up against as a young male human. I cried that tear for the boy, who had all of that yet to face. Because I loved him and couldn’t face it for him. I saved the tear in a special small jar (small because I have don’t have the time or inclination to cry a lot), and I set it aside to give to the boy someday. Presumably to thin varnish or remove tar. My tears are that potent.