The Girl Next Door (part 2)

“Hi dad, our new neighbors have come to visit us.”

He turned around, and on seeing Alice he jumped slightly out of his chair, then said, “Oh hi, I wasn’t expecting you so I’m not prepared to welcome you – sorry about that.”

“That’s okay, we’re barely ready ourselves.”

“We understand. Why don’t you sit down, you must be exhausted from moving so much stuff.”

Alice sat down, then said, “I love the panda toy you made.”

“Thank you. I didn’t think someone as old as you will appreciate such a toy, it’s really meant for a person much younger than you.”

“I wish I could make something like that, unfortunately I can’t work with technology if my life depended on it. I think I’m genetically unable to do math.”

Dad smiled and said, “It’s hard for me to believe that anybody is born bad at math. If you want help, you can always turn to Robbie – he’s learning trigonometry.”

Alice was incredulous, she looked at me and said, “Really, you look too young to do trigonometry.”

“I don’t think I’m too young to learn that, I’m 11 years old already.”

Alice looked really surprised, her big eyes bulged out as she said, “Is that right? I would have guessed 7 or 8.”

Dad laughed, then said, “Yes, he does look much younger than his age, but on the positive side, it makes him look absolutely adorable, doesn’t it?”

“Yes, I know,” Alice said, pinching my cheeks, “he kind of reminds me of my cat, I think I’ll call him ‘kitty’.” I didn’t enjoy Alice giving me such an embarrassing pet name, but since I was being touched by a girl I didn’t mind too much.

“I have to go back to work, Robbie will serve you some refreshments if that’s what you want.”

“Sure,” Alice said, then grabbed my hand as she followed me into the kitchen.

I opened the fridge door and said, “We have milk and bottled water, which one do you want?”

She scrunched her nose and said, “Do you have Coke or Diet Coke?”

“No, my mom had been teaching us how to eat healthy and she said we shouldn’t eat anything with too much sugar or artificial sweeteners.”

“I’m sorry you have a mom like that, if you want we can go back to our house and get something to drink.”

I still wanted to show my hospitality, so I said, “Wait a minute, my dad bought some ice cream, but to hide it from mom he put it inside packages of frozen peas. Would you like ice cream?”

“Sure!” Alice said.

I got bowls out of the pantry, Alice scooped me a bowl of vanilla ice cream while she scooped a bowl of strawberry ice cream for herself. This was odd because I didn’t even tell her which flavor I liked. As the two of us sat down together to eat, I started to play with Panda.

“Does Panda want some ice cream?” I said in a high-pitched teasing voice, the way my mother spoke to me when I was younger.

“Yes please,” Panda said, going along with the game. I waved a spoonful of ice cream in front of his face as he pretended to eat the ice cream, saying “Om-nom-nom-nom-nom!” Alice giggled as she watched this scene, amused by the way I was playing with Panda.

“Aww, you remind me of what I used to do with my toys, except yours talk back.”

“Yeah, I wish I had Panda earlier because I didn’t have anyone to play with.”

“You don’t have brothers or sisters?”

“I do have a sister, but I don’t like her.”

“Oh, sorry about that. I grew up without any brothers or sisters to play with either; I wish I had someone just like you.” She continued eating her ice cream and watched me play with Panda.

“You have eaten a lot of ice cream today, haven’t you?” I asked Panda.

“Yes.”

“Well, I don’t want you to fill your belly with that much sugar, you should eat some vegetables as well.” I opened the refrigerator and got out a bag of baby carrots. “Here, have one,” I said, placing a baby carrot in front of its mouth

“Om-nom-nom-nom-nom!” Panda said, prompting Alice to laugh again.

“I’m full, can I go to sleep now,” Panda said.

“But you never need to sleep! You’re a robot.”

“That is correct.”

“Oh well, would you like to hear a song to help you go to sleep?” I asked.

“Yes I would.”

I rolled my eyes and said, “Very well. Are you going to Scarborough Fair? Parsley sage, rosemary and thyme…” At this point Alice decided to join our singing, “…Remember me to one who lives there, she was once a true love of mine…” Panda, Alice and I sang the rest of that song, and throughout all that time we were smiling and looking into each other’s eyes. When we finished the both of us giggled, then Panda said, “Powering down into sleep mode.”

“Oh, I guess that was why it wanted to sleep, it was running out of battery.”

Alice stood up from the table, then said with a kind glance, “Thank you for inviting me over to your home, I had a great time. Maybe you should come over to our house sometime.”

“Great, how about now?”

“Sorry, we’re still busy moving in at the moment. But when I have the time I’ll give you a call.”

The Girl Next Door (part 1)

I was woken up in the morning by the sound of loud banging from downstairs. After a while I couldn’t stand it so I walked out of bed to see what was happening. Still in my pajamas and carrying Panda in my arms, I entered the living room and saw mom and dad lifting a sofa. The two were struggling against one another.

“Why are you such a wimp? My mom could lift this sofa all by herself,” mom said.

“Give me a break,” dad said in a strained voice, “I can’t see where I’m going, unlike you. And don’t compare me to your mom, she was on the East German Olympic team.”

As he walked past me he smiled and said, “Oh hi, Robbie.”

I didn’t immediately ask what was happening, I simply followed them as they moved the couch to the garage. The garage was unrecognizable – both cars were taken out, as well as the bottles of motor oil, power tools and even the washing machine and dryer. Instead, the entire space was filled with desks, chairs, sofas, and computer monitors; basically they made the place into an office. They even changed the lighting from very harsh fluorescent tubes to softer incandescent bulbs. As I examined the new look of the garage I was scared by the sound of a loud thud as mom and dad dropped the couch on the floor.

“Why did you just dropped it on the floor like that?” dad asked.

“What does it matter? It’s going to end up on the floor anyway,” mom said.

“You could have damaged it.”

“As far as I’m concerned this couch is already damaged. Look at the shag covering it! I’ve never seen upholstery that is so old and worn. If it were up to me I would have tossed it in the landfill a long time ago, but you want to keep it for sentimental value.”

Dad rolled his eyes as he heard mom’s little speech.

Mom paused for a while and said, “But now the couch is in the garage, at least I don’t have to stare at it everyday.” She quickly left the room.

Dad immediately turned to me and asked, “Hi honey, how are you doing?”

“I’m tired.”

“Aw…” he said as he looked down on me with a smile, then lifted me onto the couch. “Did the sound we were making wake you up?”

I nodded.

“Sorry about that. You must be wondering what we were doing all this morning.”

To be honest I didn’t, but I listened anyway.

“Now that daddy is the boss, he can work from home. This means we get to see each other much more often, whenever you want to be with me all you have to do is come down to the garage.”

“Really? You will work from home just to be close to me?”

“Kind of, the other reason is to brag to people that my company was started out of a garage.”

I was so excited by this news I immediately ran upstairs to find the chess set he bought me for Christmas. He promised to teach me chess but only played with me twice. With him more at home he would have time to do it, at least that was my thought. But when I returned to the garage he was at the computer, completely engrossed staring at the screen.

I nudged him to get his attention; he was surprised, turned his head, saw the chess set in my hand and said, “Oh, I’m afraid I don’t have time for that.”

I felt deflated, but dad reached out to touch my chin and said, “I’m sorry I don’t have time to play chess with you, but you have to understand that daddy is his own boss now, which means he has to do everything. Before I was just a programmer, all I had to do was make sure my code ran correctly. But now I have to deal with vendors, manufacturers, customs, accountants and a bunch of other people. Do you understand?”

I didn’t understand half of what he was talking about, but I nodded anyway.

He rubbed my head and said, “Thanks, you’re finally mature enough to understand why dad can’t play with you. Don’t worry, you can still hang around the office, I’m sure you’re creative enough to think of fun things to do.”

Of course I was fully capable of having fun by myself, but I really wanted to play with dad. I didn’t know that just because he’s home all the time, it doesn’t mean we get to be closer to one another. Even though I was standing right next to him, I might as well be a thousand miles away because he paid more attention to work than me.

I wanted to go back to my room when he said, “Could you open the garage door? It’s such a beautiful day I’d like to get some sunshine.”

I sighed, pressed the button on the wall and watched the door rise. With the garage door open I could see a moving truck parked in front of the house across the street. I was immediately intrigued and couldn’t help but to walk out of the garage to meet our new neighbors. As I approached the house two men carrying a huge flat-screen television walked out of the truck. It was the biggest television I’ve ever seen, whoever bought it must be incredibly rich.

When the two men opened the front door to carry the television in, a girl walked out. She was beautiful, with graceful arms and legs that moved like a ballerina. Her face was absolutely sublime; she had huge puppy-dog eyes, with lengthy eyelashes that fluttered like butterflies when she blinked. Her nose and lips were small and delicate, but they went well with her dainty chin. It was as if Disney animators designed her face – I was immediately captivated.

As I walked up to her she looked down at me with the kind of smile my kindergarten teacher used to give me. I opened my mouth but suddenly found myself at a loss for words. From watching scores of romantic comedies, I know I should say something to indicate that I like her, but also make it not too obvious that I was trying to seduce her because it might turn her off. Unable to think of a good line, I stared at her awkwardly until she asked, “Are you lost, little boy?”

I walked closer to her, caught the faint smell of scented candles, and said, “You smell nice.”

“Thank you, no one has ever complimented me on my smell because dad doesn’t allow me to wear perfume. He’s kind of afraid it would attract boys too much.”

“Obviously that didn’t work since I’m here.”

She giggled, patted me on the head and said, “You’re awfully witty for someone young enough to still carry a stuffed animal around.” She patted Panda on the head and said, “I’m sorry, I hope you didn’t mind; he just looks so cute.”

“Thank you, you look cute yourself,” Panda said.

Her mouth hanged open in surprise, the pitch of her voice rose as she said, “Oh my god, did your Panda just talk to me?”

“Yeah, my dad invented the toy for me, now he’s formed a start-up company to make money using it.”

She kept staring in fascination at Panda, so I said, “Do you want to hold him?”

She put her left hand over her chest, and with a wide smile she said, “Why of course!”

After handing Panda over to her, Panda looked at her with swiveling eyes and asked, “My name is Panda, what is yours?”

“I’m Alice,” the girl responded.

“Nice to meet you, Alice. Have you met my owner, Robbie?”

She looked at me with bemusement, then said, “Of course, he’s standing right in front of me.”

“Robbie wants to tell you that he’s a ‘really neat dude’, and his father likes to call him his ‘little girl’.”

Alice was puzzled, “Don’t you mean ‘little boy’?”

“You see, my dad and I have a special relationship,” I said.

She giggled and gave the Panda back to me and said, “Your dad is a very talented person to have created something like this.”

“He is, he works in the garage, do you want to meet him?”

“Well, I’m supposed to help my folks move in – but sure, I’d like to see him.”

With that we both walked across the street to my house. We entered the garage and saw dad sitting at his desk, his eyes glued to the monitor with a cup of coffee beside him.

Dinner Celebration

A few months after Dave and dad made that “business deal” in the woods, dad decided to take us all out for dinner. We weren’t going out to a Chinese buffet either, this was a fancy French restaurant where just ordering from the wine list will bankrupt most people. Most restaurants have a “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy, but that particular restaurant will throw you out if you don’t have a Louis Vuitton bag with matching Cartier necklace. So we had to all dress up incredibly fancy. Dad and I had to put on a suit and tie, while mom and sister had to wear fancy dresses.

The restaurant was a very nice place, the ceiling was studded with chandeliers and molding in the style of neoclassical architecture, the walls were lined with red velvet and mirrors, and each table had a centerpiece made of flowers and hand-blown glass. The maitre d’ sat us down at a table, then brought us glasses of champagne. Sister and I were too young to drink, so we had sparkling cider. When we were all comfortably sipping our drinks dad said, “You must be wondering why I took you all out to a fancy restaurant tonight.”

“I never wondered why,” sister said, “I just thought you stopped being a cheapskate.”

“That maybe part of it, but the reason is that I have an important announcement. Drum roll please.”

I starting beating my thighs in increasing tempo.

“I just quit my job because I founded my own company and will be working for myself as my own boss.”

Everyone around the table clapped, and even some people sitting at nearby tables clapped too. Mom smiled, and said, “Well, this was a fortunate turn of events. I thought you couldn’t get your company off the ground because you couldn’t get any sane investors.”

“Well, fortunately for me one of the investors who wasn’t interested initially changed his mind.”

“What did you do to convince him?”

“Let’s just say I caught him having a close encounter of the third kind.”

“I don’t get it,” mom said, blinking blankly.

Dad smiled, looked around while holding his champagne glass and said, “I’ll explain it later in greater detail, I don’t want to say it in front of children because it’s not appropriate for them.”

Mom thought for a bit, then whispered in dad’s ear.

“Yeah, that’s basically right.”

Mom opened her mouth in surprise, slowly giving away to look of delicious schadenfreude on her face. “I didn’t think you were such a sly fox; I think you just made me love you more,” she said. The two held each other in a loving embrace, then kissed.

Dad raised his drinking glass and said, “A toast! To the new and exciting journey of starting and running my own company.” My mom and sister raised their glasses as well, I followed their example and clanked our glasses together.

After taking another sip, dad said, “And my first act as the boss, I’m going to get rid of my tie.” He started to pull the tie through the knot to loosen it from around his neck. “I never understood why anyone would want to wear a tie, it’s like a dog collar around your neck all day. My only guess is that it was a way for depressed businessmen to hang themselves. Having known many businessmen, I can understand why.” After successfully taking off his tie, he took out a lighter and said, “And now, to make sure this never bothers me again…” and lit his tie on fire.

We all clapped for dad’s expression of freedom, and after he stomped out his flaming tie he said, “To be honest, I don’t like suits either, they’re itchy and get too warm in the summer.” He took off his coat and started burning that as well. Unfortunately the coat burned too well, the flames got out of control and the flames licked up his shirt. To prevent himself being burned he threw his burning coat on the table. But the table cloth also caught on fire, so he pulled the table cloth onto the floor so he could stomp it out along with the flaming coat. This sent the centerpiece tumbling to the ground, making a terrible noise as the glass shattered. Dad tried to stomp out the fire but a piece of broken glass went through the sole of his shoe and into the bottom of his foot.

“Jesus Christ!” he yelled, “That will be the last time I bought shoes from a street peddler in Hong Kong.”

As dad limped in pain, mom ran over to the fire extinguisher, broke the glass, and ran back. She was in such a panic that she emptied the entire content of the fire extinguisher onto the flames, turning dad’s coat into a pile of yellow powder. Seeing that the fire was out, we all breathed a sigh of relief. But then we all look around and saw the eyes of everyone else in the restaurant staring at us blankly through a thin veil of smoke. We felt a silent awkwardness for a few seconds, then the fire alarm went off.

We had to evacuate from the restaurant. When the fire alarm stopped we thought we could return, but when we tried the manager stopped us. “What were you doing lighting your coat on fire in my restaurant?” the manager said with a stern voice as we stood outside the entrance.

“Uh…sorry, I wasn’t thinking straight, but I can promise you it’ll never happen again.”

“I know what you mean, but I can’t take risks with someone like you.”

“But we have a reservation!”

“Yes, but I have a restaurant, and if it gets destroyed there would be no reservations from anybody.” The look on the manager’s face was fascinating, he was very restrained but underneath you can see he just wanted to tear dad apart, so dad did not rebut but left to find another restaurant.

Dad drove us to the nearest Kentucky Fried Chicken; at first he wanted to go to McDonald’s but he remembered that he had been banned from all McDonald’s in the United States including Hawaii and Alaska. (I never found out why he was banned, whenever I asked him he always changed the subject. It was as if I asked him what sex position he and mom used.) We felt overdressed when we entered the restaurant; everyone around us was in T-shirts, tank tops and spaghetti straps, with all kinds of stains all over their clothes, while we looked like we stepped off the set of Downton Abbey.

Mom, sister and I sat down at one of the plastic tables while dad stood in line to order food. The three of us didn’t have anything to do other than to look at one another’s frustrated faces. Dad finally arrived fifteen minutes later carrying two buckets of chicken along with some biscuits. He appeared very cheerful as he looked down on us and said, “What’s better than a bucket of the Colonel’s extra crispy chicken?”

“I don’t know,” sister said in a disinterested voice, “maybe poached eggs on toast with prosciutto smothered in hollandaise sauce?”

Just hearing my sister say that made my mouth water; we may not see everything the same way, but at least we have the same taste in food.

“Yeah, but you can go to a fancy restaurant and get that dish anytime you want, but if you want to eat at KFC…well you can also get KFC food anytime you want, unless it’s really early in the morning or really late at night…” dad mumbled to himself for a bit, then said, “…hey! Dinner’s ready”

“Yay!” we all said un-enthusiastically before putting our hands into the buckets.

After eating a few bites sister asked, “What will your new company be doing? I hope it has nothing to do with that stupid panda Robbie has been carrying around all this time.”

Mom glared at sister and said, “Theresa! That is no way to talk about your brother, or your father.”

Dad laughed and said, “It has everything to do with that Panda. You see, I invented that toy but I couldn’t find any company that will put it into mass production. But after receiving an injection of a few million dollars I can finally set the forces of production into action; maybe I can finally reap the rewards of having put so much work and money into making that damn toy.”

Mom stopped sipping her soda and said, “Yes, then maybe you can pay back the bank for getting into all that debt. You know, the debt you had to pay off by re-mortgaging the house, which you somehow conveniently forgot to tell me about for year.”

“Whoa, let’s not go into that argument again,” dad said with a shudder.

“No, I wouldn’t start an argument with you here.”

“Why? Because the kids are in front of us?”

“No because all the chairs here are bolted down so I can’t pick one up and throw it at you.”

Dad, sister and I all stopped chewing and looked at one another anxiously. We all know that this was not an idle threat but something she was fully capable of doing. For the rest of the meal we didn’t talk to one another.

Fishing with Daddy

On Saturday morning I walked out of my room to meet dad who was in the driveway, all dressed up in pirate regalia that included an eye-patch and oversized tricorne hat. When he saw me he smiled and said, “Arrrgh, are ye land-lubbering cowards ready for adventure on the high-seas?”

(Dad enjoyed being flamboyant and dramatic, so when he took me fishing he often dressed up as a sea captain or pirate, and would speak with a pirate accent.)

“Aye-aye, captain!” I responded, then saluted him.

He noticed that I was carrying panda along with me, so he asked, “And who is your mate, that ferocious white and black furred beast?”

I held out the panda and said with a smile, “His name is Panda!”

He wind went back to talking normally and said, “Are you sure you want to bring Panda along with you? If he falls into the water, it might ruin his circuitry and you’ll not be able to play with him.”

“That’s okay daddy, I’ll be careful with him.”

Dad went along with it. Sometimes my mom said that my dad spoiled me by letting me get away with things all the time. But considering the way my sister, treats me, it balances out.

He drove me to a lake about fifteen minutes away from our house. It was surrounded by a beautiful forest of giant redwoods, filled with the songs of birds especially during the morning or evening. If you were lucky, you might see a deer or two drinking from the lake. Going fishing was more about reveling in the beauty of nature than catching something to eat. It was surprising that he caught anything in that lake because it was so small and shallow it barely had any fishes in it.

When we arrived dad took out his fishing equipment and said, “Are ye sea-salts ready to catch and subdue the infamous barbed-mouth shark of San Tomas Aquino?” I laughed when he said that, there was nothing in the lake except a few bottom-feeding catfish. It would be easier to find a shark at a local skating rink than in that lake. But I loved how he sounds like Popeye the Sailor Man whenever he tried to talk like a pirate.

Being an engineer, he built himself a special set of fishing equipment, including a crossbow for casting, a motorized reel and a robotic worm. He pointed his special fishing device toward the middle of the lake, gave a few hearty laughs, then fired the fishing hook from the crossbow. Unfortunately his device was slightly overpowered, and instead of landing in the middle of the lake it landed on the other side and got stuck in the bushes.

“Hell’s hounds!” he said, as he tried desperately to disentangle the fishing hook from across the lake. The electric motor on his fishing device struggle to reel in the hooks. After a few hard tugs, the fishing line itself broke, to which I responded by a bout of giggling. Dad looked at me and said, “Looks like the fishing hook has been swallowed by our old enemy, the menacing serrated-jaw holly bush.” After reeling back what was left of the fishing line, he said, “Don’t worry, I brought some extra hooks and lures just in case something like this happens.”

He fixed his fishing device and cast the line again, albeit this time far more carefully. He was more successful this time, but the line sat in the water and nothing happened. I grew bored and sat down to play around with Panda, checking the line every few minutes. After what seemed like hours the line jerked, and I ran down to see if we finally caught something.

“Yarrr, ’tis no mere fish, this beast is a Leviathan!” dad said.

I put Panda down on my chair and ran towards the water. The chaotic ripples on the surface was showing that something was struggling against the fishing line. As the line was being reeled in I could see a small fish just underneath the surface, making tiny whirlpools. The fish was so small that when dad pulled it out of the water he could fit it on his palm. My first thought when I saw it was how cute it was. Despite its slimy skin and musty smell, it had large, buggy eyes and a round, pouting mouth. I petted the sorry little creature, and wished we could take it home and keep it in an aquarium, but it had to go back in the lake.

Again dad cast his fishing line into the lake, but this time he immediately caught something. “Ho ho! Looks like we’ve snagged a small treasure,” he said as he reeled in his catch. I could tell from the ripples that it wasn’t a fish but a piece of floating debris.

“Holy Christ,” he said with his normal voice as he pulled the object out of the water.

“What is it?” I asked?

“A condom.”

“What’s a condom?”

He looked at me and was at a lost for words. “I’ll explain it when we get home,” he said while carefully taking the condom off the fishing hook and throwing it in the trash bin. I looked down at Panda and asked, “What’s a condom?”

“A condom is a contraceptive device. Usually a sheath made of rubber, it is put over the penis before sexual intercourse to act as a physical barrier for insemination. It can also be used for the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.”

Dad was miffed, he scratched his head and said, “I didn’t think I would do it this early on, but some time we need to have a talk about sex.”

“You don’t need to talk to me about sex, I already learned it from reading a college biology textbook. Did you know dolphins have prehensile penises, meaning they can move them the way an elephant moves its trunk. I don’t think human penises work the same way.”

“No we don’t, although I wished I had one, that would make mom a lot happier.”

“I also saw a Nova documentary about how babies grow inside mommies. They showed a bunch of sperm cells swimming and surrounding an egg cell, then explained how when one sperm cell enters the egg, chromosomes mix and that makes an embryo, and that’s how you get a baby.”

“Well, it looks like you already know a lot about sex. But do you know anything about contraception?”

“What’s that?”

“That’s when the man and the woman has sex, but do something to prevent the woman becoming pregnant.”

“Aww, that’s sad.”

Dad looked perplexed, then asked, “Why is that sad?”

“Because it means the man and woman don’t want to have the baby.”

Dad nearly laughed aloud, then said, “It’s not because the man and woman don’t want any babies, just not too many babies. Let me put it this way: having one cat is awesome, but imagine having ten cats, think of all the litter boxes you have to clean.”

“That’s true, I hate cleaning litter boxes.”

“Not only that, being pregnant is not fun. Imagine carrying a watermelon in your belly for a few months, then pooping out that watermelon.”

I felt extremely disgusted when I heard that. “Sounds like it would hurt a lot.”

“Oh, you bet it hurts. When your mom was in labor with you, she was in so much pain that even I was sedated. I think this had more to do with how effective she is at making other people feel her pain, but still. I have never experienced labor pain so it’s impossible for me to explain to you, but according to your mother it was like that scene from ‘Alien’ where the xenomorph bursts through that guy’s chest.”

That was unnecessarily graphic imagery, I felt like I was covered in blood and guts as depicted in that movie. After taking a moment to process those thoughts, I asked, “Ugh. Why does being born cause so much pain?”

“Well, according to evolutionary theory, millions of years ago human beings started to evolve large brains in order to survive the challenges of a drying African ecosystem. But as the head evolved to be bigger, the birth canal cannot get bigger because the pelvic bones are in the way, so what ended up happening is the birth canal is too small for the baby. That’s why childbirth is so painful for humans.”

“That sounds awful.”

“Hey, that’s nature for you. Good thing we invented technology to make it less painful, or made things like condoms to prevent it.”

“So how does this the condom work?”

Dad still looked embarrassed, but said, “The condom over the penis so the sperm goes inside the condom instead of the woman.”

“And then what happens?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, what happens to the sperm after it goes in the condom?”

“It gets thrown in the garbage.”

“Aww, that’s sad.”

“Why is it sad?”

“Because sperm cells are alive, they have a head and a tail and swim like a fish. You wouldn’t think of throwing away a puppy in a trash can, would you?”

Dad smiled and said, “They’re alive, of course, but they’re not sentient. They can’t feel pain, or existential despair about their ultimate demise. Besides, even if the sperm cells get inside the woman, the vast, vast majority die anyway. Remember that only one sperm cell ever enters the egg, the rest simply die.”

“But it’s still awful when you think about it; the human body just makes billions of these living creatures and allow all but just one survive. Why does it have to be so cruel?”

Dad stopped to look at me in the eye and said, “Look at it this way, all of the sperm cells that died didn’t die in vain; their bodies were recycled by nature to make other living things, like babies, or that giant redwood tree over there. You like redwoods, don’t you?” I smiled, he spun me around so we’d both look at that redwood tree. Then he started to sing:

From the day you were born in the gonads
And wagging your flagellum around
There are more of you than can ever succeed
More of you than are eggs around

There are too many barriers to get through
Like a giant condom right in your way
But don’t be too rash
When you’re thrown in the trash
Take the long path through the web of life

It’s the Circle of Sperm
And it moves us all
Through the female vulva
Through the garbage heaps
Till you find your place
To make more babies
It’s the Circle
The Circle of Sperm

After dad finished his song he looked extremely satisfied for about five seconds before he became more serious and said, “Now we can only hope Disney doesn’t sue us.”