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August 5th, 2005

The Good Eggs

SLIGHTLY OFF THE MARK
Not long ago, when I was having a particularly bad day, my daughter came out to my workplace with the laptop computer her grandfather gave her. It’s a cute little thing, a century old 12 incher that would almost fit into a hip pocket, and I’d promised to do some routine maintenance on it.
(Don’t get the wrong idea: all I did was install some software and push the “fix me” button. I have no desire to emulate anything of Bill Gates’, except his bank account.)
Anyway, she told me that, since she didn’t use it very often, I was welcome to keep the computer for the foreseeable future. Then she presented me with a chicken strip basket from a local fast food place, a bottle of Mountain Dew, and a snack of peanut clusters and M&M’s – pretty much my dream meal. This is the stuff I want on the night before my execution, along with a strong sleeping pill or a master key.
Eyes narrowed, I looked at her and asked, “What do you want?”
She wanted nothing, as it turned out. She was just being nice, or maybe thankful that I was doing all that computer work, which really consisted of nothing more than clicking “OK” over and over. The message is clear: Sometimes people will just plain do something nice for you, without expecting you to testify at a trial.
Even teenagers. My fourteen year old once informed me that she was cooking me, as she termed it, “breakfast for dinner”. This is a girl who can cook exactly two things: raman noodles, and Pop Tarts. The noodles are iffy, and usually require a standby fire extinguisher. But in this case she planned to make a full-out meal.
I asked her the same thing, of course: “Why? What’s wrong? Is it a boy? Is somebody pregnant? Where’s my gun?”
But no, she just felt like doing it. Felt like cooking? She’s not my daughter! Nobody in this family feels like cooking, although we quite often feel like eating.
But she made some darn good scrambled eggs, gamely took a shot at making bacon that turned out only slightly overdone, and mixed up some great clam dip.
No, I don’t know what clam dip has to do with breakfast.
I’ve never had clam dip before but, being a good sport, and being the person who tells her she always has to try new foods, I took a shot at it. I made sure she had the phone and was prepared to dial 911, of course … not because of her cooking, but because with my luck, I’d get food allergies and clam up. But I didn’t die from the dip or anything else, so I think we can count my daughter’s meal as a success. Oh, and it turns out I like clam dip.
As for the meal being breakfast – well, I work third shift; breakfast is whenever it lands on my plate.
We spend far too much time expecting the worst out of young people these days, and we need to make an effort to remember that most young people are not as bad as we old codgers make them out to be. There are a few bad eggs, and the bad eggs smell so bad that we can’t smell the good eggs anymore, so sometimes we just need to hold our noses and smell our kids … and … um …
See, when I started out with that sentence it was to make a point, but then I went to a bad place. Smelling your kids is really unnecessary, except on the occasional Saturday night when they get home late. That’s one way to identify the bad eggs. They’ll be rotten, or scrambled, or maybe fried, but the good eggs will be uncooked, and you hope they’ll end up well done without getting hard boiled. On the other hand, all our kids must be salty, because they give us high blood pressure.
For some reason I’m getting hungry for breakfast again.

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