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It was either post something like this, or reply to the Shoot or Don't Shoot thread in this forum. I didn't have enough ink for the latter.


The Bad Ted

Notes from the Stern
Houseboat Magazine
September, 2007
Ted A. Thompson

Years ago when our youngest daughter, Shelly, was very young, Roxanne told me, "You can make fun out of nothing at all." I remember feeling flattered, although the circumstances have become obscured with the passage of time. The day was rainy, it was a long time until lunch, and Shelly and I were bored. We found something to do, and apparently, Roxanne was impressed.

This past weekend, my oldest daughter, Trista, and her husband, Ben, came from San Antonio to see us, bringing the grandkids, Jaden, 6 and Noah, 4. It started with a phone call.

"Hey, Ben, haven’t talked to you in awhile. I’m working on the boat and sure wish you were helping me." I wasn’t serious, just thinking wishfully – I love to get out of work; Tom Sawyer is my everlasting hero.

That evening the phone rang, and Trista announced. "Hey Dad, we’re coming. Have breakfast ready, we’ll see you in the morning." They drove all night and arrived on Friday morning.

I’ll leave out the happy morning reunion, the great backyard barbecue that night. Let’s get to the really fun stuff -- the part where Ben worked on the boat (doesn’t matter what work, as we all know, every boat needs work, and white washing is a privelage) and I played with the grandkids in the lake. Swimming off the end of the dock. Making big fun.

Noah had recently proclaimed to his mom, "I like girls."

"Yeah? What do you like about girls, Noah?" she asked.

"I like bikinis!" he replied.

This explains his unabashed stare at the boats going slowly by in the no-wake zone near the dock where we swam. Every time I saw him leaning on his elbows on the air raft, watching the boats full of girls, I laughed anew. (Wonderful thing about kids, they can make you laugh again and again at the same thing.)

As we swam in the lake, Noah played the sea monster for two days. The girls in bikinis on the boats didn’t have a clue about the risk they were taking, with a sure-enough sea monster so close. I will leave it to his dad to teach him how to look without looking. As a grandfather, I have no responsibilities in this whatsoever. I just grinned.

"I wanna be a wock star," he announced. You’re on the right track, kid. Now get a guitar and learn how to play it.

Jaden and I devised a water game. Floating on her back, she laid across my arms. "Close your eyes," I suggested, holding her afloat. She relaxed and trusted me. Silly girl.

"Here’s the beautiful movie star, vacationing on the Riviera…"

"Wherever that is," I added. I wasn’t sure, never been there. Didn't matter, it had just the right sound to a little girl's tender imagination.

"She’s been out all night, dining and dancing with about a million boyfriends, and now she is relaxing on her floating lounge chair, in her own private swimming pool…"

Jaden lay still, eyes closed, picturing life as she is sure it will be.

"Ah, what a wonderful night, with candlelight dinner, music, dancing. And now the sunshine feels so good as the beautiful movie star relaxes in her floating lounge chair in her rich swimming pool…"

I carried on, "She is totally relaxed, soaking up the warm sunshine, when suddenly...suddenly...

Jaden didn’t know what to expect; her eyelids fluttered.

"...suddenly, THE LOUNGE CHAIR BREAKS! And the famous movie star goes right into the water! Ker-PLOP!"

Jaden went down glubbering, then up in her flotation vest, spitting and sputtering, blowing lake water and laughter (and maybe a little snot, although movie stars seldom admit that). "Let’s play that again, Granddad!"

Must’ve been 40 times we played the game, each time the story becoming further embellished. Before it was over, Jaden was a fabulously rich supermodel, and her jewel-encrusted floating lounge chair didn’t just break and douse her into the water, it threw her into the air and dunked her with spirited intent. (It was a magic lounge chair, we suspect, and a really malicious one, too.)

Meanwhile the 4 year-old bikini-loving sea monster wock star swam around threatening everyone (sea monsters growl ferociously, in case you don’t know, and some can play a mean air guitar.)

I hope you have the great fortune of having kids in your life. Your own children, your grandchildren. If not, then your brother’s kids, your sister’s kids, your friends’ kids, any kids. There’s no greater joy. No greater love. No greater fun.

And with kids, it’s easy to make fun. Even out of nothing at all.

Until next time,
My best from the Stern
Ted A. Thompson
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