I have twin 4-year-old sons. They have normal names, but I mostly call them Bay and Meechy. I tried to explain to them how they earned those nicknames once. It took a good three minutes (the names' origins are vaguely associated to The Wire and the Black Mafia Family, naturally). As soon as I was done, Meechy, completely stonefaced, asked me if robots poop. “Of course robots poop,” I told him. “Where do you think we get screws and bolts from?”
He just looked at his feet and smiled.
Being a father is just about the best job on the planet. Sons make accidental kings out of ordinary men. Right now, everything I do is groundbreaking and superheroic, even though everything I do is lame and ordinary. I did that thing where you walk behind a couch and pretend like you're going down stairs. That shit was comedy gold to them. Pretending to pull your own thumb off? I invented that. Rhyming “cat” with “hat”? Yep, Daddy was the first.
I showed them how to dive into a pool this past summer. It was as impressive to them as if I'd picked up the sun and thrown it across the solar system. They have a framed picture they found it in my closet of Manu Ginobili doing something amazing on a basketball court. I told them it was me. They didn't even consider that it was anyone else. They asked if I'd hang it up for them. I'll be sad when they learn about Argentina.
The other morning, Bay and I were sitting at the computer watching music videos on Youtube because my wife had left the house and told me to make sure to practice reading with the boys.
The boys already love music. I imagine part of the reason for that is because we listen to a lot of it together because this job necessitates such. They've been to a few concerts already (earplugs, big time) and have developed their own inexplicably bad tastes. I tried playing Wu-Tang's 36 Chambers for them. We made it less than a full song before Bay asked to listen to The Black Eyed Peas. I love him profoundly, but he knows jack shit about rap.
The two of them are big, huge, big fans of Queen's “We Will Rock You,” so, regardless of starting point, we almost always end up there. Recently, I'm told they were in the cafeteria of their school teaching some of their classmates the cadence of the song by beating on the table. They think they're super clever for learning that all on their own. I don't know. I mean, it's not like it's hard to figure out. It's fuckin' two thumps and a clap.
While flipping through videos, we happened across this one:
We watched. And watched it again. And watched it again. Bay sat in my lap, quiet as he's been since he was born. He was motionless. The whole situation was entirely bizarre. He hasn't stopped running since he learned how to. But there he was, watching Freddie Mercury sing about his life unraveling like he'd been ordered to do so by God; calm and quiet and still.
More than that though, he felt sad in my hands; somber even.
I put my closed lips on the back of his head. He didn't flinch.
“Bay. Bay. Bay …? Son …?”
I looked around him at his face.
And he was goddamn crying, crying because of Freddie Mercury, the gorgeous, wonderful Freddie Mercury.
“What's wrong,” I asked him.
He looked at the floor.
“He's making me sad.”
“Yeah, he can do that,” I explained.
I was exceptionally proud.
Meechy was drawing on the couch with a green marker.