I seem to be living with a very important person. So very important that he thinks he needs his own business cards. I’m not talking about M. Frankly, I don’t think M even has business cards. No, Bennett has decided that his life is incomplete because he doesn’t have a stack. I frequently catch him designing them on the computer. Not surprisingly, they are often elaborate and ornate, and usually have soaring mountain peaks in the background. And there is always a football.
I ask him: who would you give them to (anyone and everyone), what would they have on it (name, email address, and home phone number), job title (unclear), why do you need them (so people will remember me).
Oh buddy, I say. You really don’t have to worry about that.
I told him about life in the 1800’s and the habit of leaving calling cards when you visited someone. He loved it. Then again, he also loved hearing about the complicated lever (morning rituals) of Louis XIV. He especially liked the idea of appointing noblemen to dress you. (In fact, you knew you were important if you got to dress Louis XIV, he was that cool.) I left his room before he finished detailing the arrangements for the following morning… but I am quite sure I was in charge of socks. When I think about it, it hardly surprises me that a nine year old who thinks he needs business cards feels a certain je ne sais quoi for the king who said L’Etat c’est moi.
We were talking about Louis XIV as a build up to the saucy XV and the even saucier XVI. I detailed some of the excesses and then dove right into the bloody revolution. I was sure it’d be a huge hit, because whatever we’re reading or talking about, it’s always the bloody battles that get the most attention. And I was right, but in hindsight, I lingered a little too long over Marie Antoinette, her vices, and her downfall… but truthfully, it’s always been my favorite bit (I could never get that worked up about Robespierre, but clearly thousands of French people did).
“And then!” I said, “They dragged the whole family out of bed at night and threw them into a dark, damp prison! Eventually (dramatic pause) each one of the family went to… (another pause, I am something of a frustrated thespian).. the guillotine!” (And yes, I lingered over each syllable. )
Honestly, I’m not sure if that’s completely accurate — the part about being shlepped out of bed in the middle of the night.. and I dare say that poor Marie A. would hate to think of herself as shlepped anywhere… but I carried on, until Efram sat up:
“What do you mean the kids died?” He rubbed his eyes. “They couldn’t help who their parents were..” I looked at his teary eyes, and his sad, troubled face and realized that in my effort to impress them with the bloodiness of history, I had probably gone too far. I was about to comfort him, when Bennett chimed in:
“Are you kidding? You should hear what they did in the Holocaust! There was gas!!!”
“THAT WILL BE ENOUGH OF THAT!” I shriek, leaping out of my chair. I quickly spat out at Bennett that if he is mature enough to know about certain events in history, then he must be mature enough not to share then with younger siblings who are not quite ready to know about them. Of course, this prompted Efram to ask a string of questions that I was not prepared to answer. I think I stuttered out some responses and when I caught my breath I explained that it’s all fun and games to talk about battles and beheadings, but that Efram had a very real point: that in wars and revolutions, real people die, even children.
There wasn’t much I could do to save the evening. And if I was wondering whether or not I ought to be reading the Hunger Games with them, I got my answer — at least as far as Efram is concerned.
I left the room, defeated and confused. On my way out, a certain someone reminded me to be there bright and early to help him with his royal socks. I don’t think he needs to worry about a job description for his business cards. I only wonder if Royal Pain in the Ass would fit.