July 28, 2003

Dirt in a Cup

Just back from a short trip to Philadelphia. Big highlight: me and my mom reading every letter or postcard I ever wrote to her. My favorite was a postcard sent from summer camp, age eight. Even then, my writing style is mine.

Dear Mom,
Camp isn’t getting much better. We had to go to Camp Council for a carnival. I got poison ivy + a small case of the common cold. It was mean of you to send me here. Please send me 3 stamped postcards addressed to Pop-Pop. Miss you. Love, Michael

Another highlight: Hanging out with my seven-year-old nephew Matthew and my cousin’s five-year-old daughter Casey at a playground called The Castle. After exhausting ourselves in the heat, we took shelter under a playground toy and waited to be picked up by the rest of my family. They were late, so Matthew, a complainer, complained. Rather than reassure him, I announced that we had been forgotten and were likely to have to sleep in The Castle and eat a dinner of wood chips and grass. Casey, recognizing that I was kidding, played along. “We can have dirt in a cup,” she said. Matthew asked where we were going to get cups. Casey rolled her eyes. “From the garbage, Matthew. Where did you think?”

Later Casey said there was something written on the beam above her head. Without thinking, I asked her to read it to me. “I don’t know this word,” she said, pointing. I leaned over and looked. She was pointing at the word COCK in the phrase SUCK MY COCK, which was written in large white letters across the beam.

What to do? I decided to level with them. “I can’t read that word to you because your parents will be upset. They think it’s a bad word.”

Matthew scooted over to see. “I think it says cock,” he said.

Cock. The children looked at each other, baffled.