Evan Lavender-Smith

CHILDISH THINGS 

 

MY WIFE SAID TO ME, “It’s time for you to put childish things aside.” 

I took her to mean my sports memorabilia, and so I put my sports memorabilia aside, and I embraced my wife in a manly attitude, and my wife did not return my embrace. 

And so I put my iPhone, iPad, and late-2011 MacBook Pro aside, and once again I embraced my wife in a manly attitude, and once again my wife did not return my embrace.

And so I put our children aside, for they are the most childish of all things I might put aside, and once again I embraced my wife in a manly attitude, and once again my wife did not return my embrace. 

“Why do you not return my embrace?” I asked my wife. “I have done as you have asked. I have put childish things aside.”

“But I did not mean for you to put those things aside,” my wife said to me. “Rather, I meant those things within you that are yet childlike.”

And so I emptied my coat and jeans pockets of many redeemable Peter Piper Pizza tickets, of many redeemable Chuck E. Cheese tickets, of lengths of string and scraps of cloth I had collected with the hope of putting to some important future use, of a piece of tissue wrapped around a half-sucked lollipop, of several saltwater taffy candies, of several army figurines, of two pennies embossed by a penny-embossing machine at the fair, of a yoyo, of a couple-few packs of bubble gum, of an assortment of Now & Later candies, of an assortment of unused erasers, of a dozen or more seashells, of several fossils, of six miniature pinecones, of four Go-Bots and three Transformers, of nineteen Matchbox racing cars, of sundry errant Lego bricks, of many peanuts and raisins, of many sunflower seeds, of several jacks and bouncy balls, of several clipped-out magazine photographs of bras and guns, of paintbrushes, of watercolors, of nineteen dog biscuits, of my complete collection of Tom Waits CDs, of many handwritten notes which implore their reader to verify that I have not been buried prematurely, of a half-eaten grilled cheese sandwich, of four pairs of tangled earbuds, of five tangled charging cords, of several 5 mg tablets of diazepam, of several 0.5 mg tablets of alprazolam, of a crinkled photograph of a particular monkey I always dreamed of owning as a pet, of several 1 mg tablets of clonazepam, of two GFCI electrical outlets which I could never figure out how to install in the bathrooms, of nineteen golf tees, of an empty package of Zig Zag rolling papers, of many sheets of stickers, of a small pouch of thawed frozen corn I had once used as an ice pack in the days following my vasectomy operation, of sundry errant Cheetos, of a few plastic spoons, of a couple pairs of cracked swimming goggles, of those six non-U.S. currency coins with which I most enjoy playing heads or tails, of several spider rings, of several pages of crumpled-up sheet music, of a few candy bar wrappers from especially memorable candy bars, of a few bottle caps from especially memorable beers, of several butts from especially memorable cigarettes, of several especially memorable fortunes received in fortune cookies, of a few crumpled-up cheat sheets for Minecraft crafting recipes, of crumpled-up cheat sheets for verb conjugations and common phrases in Spanish, of countless marbles, of two snorkels, of a package of totally dry baby wipes, of a miniature Frisbee, of two knotted dog leashes, of several flat-head screws, of several Phillips-head screws, and of various prizes discovered at the bottoms of cereal boxes, and I put all of those things aside, and once again I embraced my wife in a manly attitude, and once again my wife did not return my embrace.

“But I have put all childish things aside,” I said. “So why do you still not return my embrace?”

My wife motioned to my left-rear jeans pocket, wherein I store my ballpoint Pilot pen and Moleskine pocket notebook, those implements with which I record my fatuous observations of the world and half-baked ideas for short stories. I removed the pen and notebook from my pocket and made to put them aside, but a childish desire within me stayed my hand.

“Perhaps it is not yet time for me to put all childish things aside,” I said, “but only those things within my coat pockets and my front and right-rear jeans pockets, as well as my sports memorabilia, my Apple devices, and, of course, our children, who are the most childish of all things I might put aside.”

My wife, caressing my cheek, wiping the tears therefrom, spoke thus: “But of course you needn’t put our children aside, for they are a testament to your love for me. And you needn’t put your Apple devices aside, for they are a testament to your love for human ingenuity. And you needn’t put your sports memorabilia aside, for they are a testament to your love for the game. Perhaps some of the items from your coat pockets and the front and right-rear pockets of your jeans should be put aside, but I leave their putting aside to your discretion. As to the Pilot pen and Moleskine notebook, I ask only that you put them aside from time and time, so to ensure that your fatuous observations of the world, and your half-baked ideas for short stories, do not rule your life entire.”

And so I put my pen and notebook aside for a time, and I embraced my wife in a manly attitude, and my wife pressed her breast to mine, returning my embrace.


EVAN LAVENDER-SMITH is the author of From Old Notebooks (Dzanc Books). His writing has recently appeared in BOMB, Denver Quarterly, Fence, and The White Review. He is the founding editor of Noemi Press, the editor-in-chief of Puerto del Sol, and an assistant professor in the MFA program at New Mexico State University.


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