I see the dead hand of dad on that young fellow's video. Not a signature. Brush strokes or something.
My little son is importunate. He starts his pleasant little harangue the minute his eyes pop open. I heard him, bang on seven this morning, begin the little burble of narration he keeps for his life. It's Sunday and the sun is out and the world is his oyster again today.
I'd been awake for a couple hours. I'd left the windows open in my office last night and so I was outdoors instantly. The sun rose gently over my textual exertions. There cannot be a sweeter place to be than western Maine staring down a sunny day knocking on June's door.
I went up to his world, filled with talking sponges and grinning dinosaurs and the Google Earth carpet of a cartoon town.
Dad, I want you to help me make a video with Bionicles and muzzle flashes and space ships and galactic battles and dancing robots and talking animals and it won't be hard because we can do it in 4 fps so the camera won't die of no battery and the moviemaker won't crash and mom says you have to work all day today and tomorrow and the day after and even more days so I'll wait until you don't have to make furniture one day but don't make me wait too long because I'm impatient.
There is no quality time. There is no such thing as quality time. There is only time. Time is teflon and adjectives and adverbs just slide right off it. It cannot be condensed, or frozen, or hoarded, or distilled, or saved for later, or borrowed and paid back.
You don't have any story that anyone wants to see, son.And then he went out back and rode his bike in a circle because his father lied, and his time has adjectives all over it, and under it, and all around it. The adjectives are stacked like cordwood outside the door.
What is a good story?
It doesn't matter what it's about. It just needs to make people want to keep reading it, or hearing it, or seeing it. People need to feel differently when they're done. That's all.
I don't know any stories like that.
You are a story like that. Everybody is a story like that. You're a little boy. What happens to a little boy?
I don't know.
Of course you know. It's whatever you want. What's in the bowl there in the kitchen?
You eat the banana. What do you become?
That's a story. There's an apple. What do you become?
I don't know!
You have to think of something. That's all.
(A hint of tears) I don't know!
Of course you do. Don't be sad or you'll spoil your story.
Mom puts honey on your waffle.
A grizzly bear! Then there's cheese and I'm a mouse! Another mouse comes and I'm a cat! Another cat comes and I'm a dog!
And when you're all done, you're a boy again. That's a story. It's slightly better than every book you've gotten from the library for a year.
And so Dad has his story too.
[First offered in 2012, rerun with comments intact]