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Perry Block Headshot

One Last Bedtime Story

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My son Brandon was 19 years old on April 25, 2014. I'm proud that he is turning into a happy, healthy, and intelligent young man with a wide variety of interests and a well-adjusted and positive outlook on life and the future.

Just one thing.

Why the hell can't he still be 6?

It was last April 25, his last birthday before leaving for college, that I decided to do something about this.

"Brandon," said I. "I've got an idea. How about tonight I favor you with a bedtime story?"

"I'm good, Dad."

"No, Bran. You see, this is a life experience that shortly we'll never be able to duplicate. Plus, not to invoke guilt, I diapered you, took you to Disney World, and bought you an Xbox."

"Okay. As long as it doesn't take too long. Got a math test tomorrow."

"I've selected a wonderful book: The Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown."

"Dad, I believe that's Goodnight (pause) Moon. The way you read it with the word 'the' and no pause makes it sound like a midnight fraternity prank from Animal House."

"Aren't you going to ask me something before we get started?"

"I'm good, Dad."

"No, you see, you're supposed to ask, 'May I have a drink of water, please?'"

"I'm not thirsty."

"No, you're required to ask it! It's part of the gestalt."

"All right, all right! May I have a drink of water, please?"

"We have tap water, Deer Park, and Evian."

"Dad, read the story."

"Yeah, sure. Here goes: In the great green room, there was a telephone, and a red balloon . . . Hey, Bran, I wonder why the characters are bunnies. Do you think Ms. Brown was trying to illustrate the oneness and commonality of all creatures great and small?"

"I think she thought bunnies were cute, Dad."

"Good point. And a comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush. . . Say, Brandon, did I ever make you my special lumpless Cream of Wheat?"

"Yeah, Dad. Tasted like a bowl full of mush."

"You'll have to try it again . . . And a quiet old lady whispering 'hush'. . . Hey! Quiet old lady? That's ageist! It ought to be a pensive but still lithe and attractive post-Boomer woman."

"Dad, this isn't a politically correct reading of Huck Finn. I think you ought to read it like it is."

"You're right, of course. Now where was I? Oh yeah . . . Goodnight moon. Goodnight cow jumping over the moon . . . You know, that would be quite a prodigious accomplishment for a cow! Do you think Cirque du Soleil could train one to . . . "

"I think Cirque du Soleil is doing quite well without a cow act, Dad."

"Yeah, probably. Goodnight stars. . . Why, that sounds like Peter Marshall at the end of the nighttime version of Hollywood Squares. Ha, that Charley Weaver!"

"Dad. Math test tomorrow."

"You're right, you're right, just trying to lighten things up. Goodnight nobody. Goodnight mush . . . Now why would anybody say 'Goodnight nobody?' Unless it's me at the end of an evening after getting my usual response on Twitter."

"Dad, please. Could we just move on?"

"Sure, Brandon! And Goodnight noises everywhere . . . The End."

"Very nice, Dad. Goodnight."

"Uh, Bran?"

"Yeah, Dad?"

"My knees are kind of a little stiff right now."

"So?"

"May I have a drink of water, please?"