This year, Santa decided that it would be great fun to leave whoopee cushions in everyone’s stocking. I received two, perhaps one for each cheek, or maybe as a sign that I ought not to get a hot chocolate from Starbucks every day, even though it’s how I talk myself out of bed in the morning.
The boys think this is great fun. You get to play a trick on someone, which is hilarious in and of itself, and said trick results in a fart noise. Whoopee! How aptly named is this device.
They are good sports about it, too, recognizing that a brother’s enjoyment comes partly from the deception. Even though the whoopee cushion is always in plain view, the “victim” pretends as if he doesn’t see it, and sits down extra hard. Forget the more expensive toys; most of Christmas Day’s play consisted of my sons nonchalantly asking one of their brothers to “have a seat,” or “come sit down,” as if this is everyday conversation for young boys. “Sure,” is the reply, and then the fart sound, and then they roll around laughing.
Eventually, Eli came to me with a mournful look. He’d become over-exuberant with his whoopee cushion, filling it too full of air. It burst. “Since you got two,” he asked through his sniffles, “can I have one of yours?”
“Sure,” I told him, as if I had a choice, as if I can say no to that sad little face. I suppose this means I really will have to lay off the hot chocolate.
Christmas night I made a pot of Christmas chili (it has red and green peppers in it). I played Handel’s “Messiah” on the stereo. As I chopped peppers I could hear, mingled with the appearance of the angel to the shepherds, the sounds of farts and giggles. Somehow, this seemed right. That’s part of the significance of the annunciation to the shepherds, that the King of kings was introduced to the lowest of the low, completely upsetting the hierarchies of man. Those shepherds were an uncultured lot, after all. Who knows, perhaps Handel might have incorporated the whoopee cushion, had it been available to him.
I like to think that more of our highbrow than lowbrow ways will rub off on our children, but maybe it’s best if they get an equal dose of both. I can’t imagine, after all, getting along with anyone who can’t appreciate a whoopee cushion. In fact, once they’re older, and serious about some young lady, I’ll recommend that as the test. If she laughs, she’s a keeper; if not, throw her back and keep fishing. Because we’re rednecks that way.