Everett Baker Beadling is in for a big surprise. He won’t know what hit him. Couldn’t possibly have seen it coming. Simply not a sufficient number of neural connections in his developing brain as of yet to compete at this lofty level. My brain and his mother’s brain combined boast 200 trillion synapses; Everett’s a paltry 100 trillion. Pfft, this is gonna be like taking candy from a baby. That is a terrible analogy, actually, since my own instinct for self-preservation overrides anything so reckless and suicidal as taking Everett’s bag of remnant Halloween candy.
But we are not above deploying blatant, ugly bribery with Everett from time-to-time in order to achieve what we believe to be ends sitting squarely in Everett’s own self-interest. When I say “we,” in this particular case I mean “I.” Hilary must maintain plausible deniability on this one, just in case our sophisticated plot — I mean my sophisticated plot — falls flat, requiring a separate battle plan to be drawn up and executed by a separate commander.
Most parents set lofty life goals for their children, imagining a “sky-is-the-limit” future. Hilary and I simply want our 6th grader to steer clear of type 2 diabetes and stay properly inoculated. Is this too much to hope for?
Apparently so, as Everett has proclaimed a standing prohibition on shots of any kind for any purpose, whether the shots purport to be painful or painless. We don’t even utter the word “shot” around the house, for fear of triggering a fainting spell or Grand Mal seizure on Everett’s part. It’s like the one person in the hypnotist’s audience who is hooked, dropping to the ground like a rag doll upon the invocation of the secret word. Saying aloud “shot,” or anything that rhymes with “shot,” and you will hear Everett crumple to the carpet with a “flummpf” in another room. This poses a real problem this time of year, in particular, since Hilary keeps trying to add “Get Everett a flu shot” to my to-do list.
Then there is exercise. Well, any physical movement, really. Anything requiring more metabolic processes and involving a higher caloric burn rate than those associated with binge watching “The Flash,” or “Stranger Things,” or pretty much any things, whilst sitting dead still on the living room couch. Add in the seasonal, bulging, orange pillowcase of Milky Ways and Nerds and Gobstoppers surgically attached to Everett’s wrist, and you can start to appreciate our concern for his spiked insulin levels. We wouldn’t dare flush his Halloween treats, but we would love for him to move his arms and limbs on occasion in order to stave off Gangrene.
Alas, my timid suggestion the other night that Ev play in a winter soccer league was not well-received. Sitting at a restaurant’s dinner table on Chestnut street, he reacted as though I told him he arrived on our doorstep from outer space and then farted on his pizza. Shock and disgust. He nearly bolted out of the restaurant and sprinted off into the night, maybe to our house, maybe to who knows where.
So no flu shot, no futsal.
But now everything has changed. Due to the sudden serendipity of some new mobile phone program at my wife’s work, we have ourselves a bargaining chip: A near-obsolete-but-brand-new-to-you iPhone, just waiting for a new owner who is just about to turn 12 years old. Most parents would bestow such a big moment gift with pomp and circumstance. Proud smiles. High-minded speeches.
Our birthday gift presentation will go down more like a hand-to-hand narcotics transaction in a dangerous neighborhood —
“Psst. Hey kid, you want this iPhone? You do? Sure, sure, it’s all yours. But first, you gotta have this flu shot. And then, you gotta go into that gym and play some indoor soccer. And you gotta act like you like it — the flu shot and the futsal. Then and only then, you’ll find the iPhone in a brown paper bag over there behind the dumpster in the parking lot. You got it, kid? Yeah, you better.”
Quid pro quo.
At least this is the plan. Wish me luck.
Thanks for reading.