Sunday promised to deliver another stunning Fall day, with abundant sunshine and temperatures in the pleasant and comfortable 60s. As it so often does, the Great Outdoors was beckoning Team WestEnders, coaxing them to lace up their hiking shoes and go tromp through the woods somewhere. So, obediently heeding the Call of the Wild, (or, you know, as untamed as it gets in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill Triangle…) we headed for a State Park to renew our bond with Mother Nature…and whatnot.
Now, I’ve noticed that our little walks tend to follow a couple of patterns these days. In one scenario, the brothers lead the way, strolling side by side together out in front while chatting about…secret boy stuff, apparently. That leaves Husband in the middle, and me purposefully lagging several yards behind, savoring as much stillness and quiet as I can absorb from the surrounding forest. But periodically, we all clump together for a while and discuss whatever happens to spring to mind.
For example, in yesterday’s excursion, topics included the MLB Playoffs (instigated by Derek), an article in the newspaper that I’d read regarding college admissions, a televised special produced by the Smithsonian Museum, about a group of archeologists who recently uncovered and reconstructed some enormous reptile skeletons from a snake they estimated to be 48 feet long (offered by Husband the Science Geek)...and whatever babbling stream of consciousness happened to be flowing from Riley’s mouth during any miniscule pauses in the conversation. (Leading us to the third type of regular occurrence during family outings: the inevitable “Riley, please for the love of all things peaceful, Just. Stop. Talking… for a few minutes, at least…”)
Occasionally, when we’re all feeling perky and social enough at the same time, we indulge the boys by joining them in a silly “Name Game”. It’s very simple—one person starts by throwing out the name of someone, alive or deceased, from any point in history up to the present…but it must be a real human being. (This will become critically important to the story in just a moment, trust me…) The next player comes up with another person whose first name begins with the last initial of the previous one. Confused? It’s like this: Albert Einstein could lead to Elvis Presley who could then cause one to say Patrick Dempsey…etc. Believe it or not, it can be harder than you’d think sometimes to come up with a name tied to a specific letter. (Especially with the aforementioned constant chatter in the background, making it harder to focus…or maybe that’s just me…) So when someone is taking a long time and seems to be struggling for inspiration, we tend to provide ideas to try to speed them along.
However, some of these tidbits are, shall we say, “not so helpful”. Like when Derek was having trouble coming up with an “H”, and Husband enthusiastically yelled “Harry Potter”! I immediately over-ruled the suggestion by barking out, “NOT REAL!” This instantly became sort of the running joke throughout the rest of the contest, as we had to try harder to come up with famous people we hadn’t yet mentioned, and the “brainstorms” became increasingly ridiculous. At one point Husband was looking for yet another “S” and Riley interjected, “Simpson…Bart”. Treating my self-appointed referee role with utter seriousness, I squashed that by calling 2 fouls at once: “Um…Backwards…and NOT REAL!”
But the game really shuddered to a screeching halt a few minutes later when Derek was once again wracking his Teenage Boy Brain for an “O”. After pondering for a while, he apparently gave up, and with a huge cheesy grin, just called out a word that at least used the right letter: “Osmosis!” I didn’t even know where to start when assessing the…wrongness…of his response, so I sputtered for a few seconds before holding up my imaginary flag and indignantly stating, “Just…NOT…A PERSON!” However…Husband, ambling a few steps behind at the back of the line, had the last word. Chortling over Derek’s…creative cheating…and my mild outrage, he quipped, “Maybe you’d better explain it again…I don’t think it’s…SINKING IN!”
Oh. My. Goodness. Husband just about stumbled off the path, he was laughing so hard in gleeful amusement at his own…utter dorkishness. I think Derek was equal parts appreciative of the clever play on words…and horrified that THIS is the kind of stuff that cracks us up. Riley was nonplussed, not having encountered this specific vocabulary term yet in his middle school science curriculum. And as for me? I couldn’t in good conscience let such a painful transgression go…un…pun…ished (I know, I know, something about a “pot” and a “kettle”, blah blah blah…) so I chucked a few acorns his direction in retribution…while secretly admiring his cleverness, of course. (Shhh! You must never tell! It will only encourage him…)
So, yeah…thus ends another installment of the ongoing saga…Nerds in Nature. Next time you see us, please try to refrain from pelting us with squirrel food—although I reaaalllly can’t say I’d blame you!