Friday, February 09, 2007
I got my fix tonight. I didn’t realize I was so desperate, of course. I ignored the warning signs of pensiveness, inability to focus, unexplained longing, and frequent sighing. So I gave in, picked up the phone, and called the only one who could help me.
My fix was not for drugs or alcohol or even for Coke (which, by the way, I have not had since we moved in December). No - my fix was for Paw.
Paw is a character created by our son Matt when he was an adolescent. It was a virtual soap opera situation. Matt created an old man several billion years in age (if Matt was 11, Paw was 11 billion years old, and Paw’s age stayed commensurate with Matt’s). Paw had no teeth, of course, so Matt mimicked that by pulling his lips over his teeth. Paw's story evolved as Paw matured, and we discovered he had a girlfriend named Trixie (he already had a wife, The Old Hag). Oh, Paw had quite an exciting life, yes, indeed.
Paw usually slipped in unexpectedly. Matt would fade into the background, like some kind of medium, and all of a sudden, there would be Paw, telling us his latest joke or timely observation. Paw was always amusing, entertaining, and most welcome to join us at any time. He appeared in restaurants, in the car, and even at church. One never knew when Paw would show up.
Rachel, of course, was not to be outdone, so she invented a character named Wap (Paw spelled backwards). It made for quite a few interesting conversations.
Alas, Paw gradually disappeared as Matt became an adult, and I had only my fond memories plus a few videos. My dependable source of laughter had fizzled.
Paw talked about many subjects, but the one expression he could hardly say with a straight face was, “Oh, crap!” Now, it wasn’t the most polite thing in his repertoire, but for some reason, whenever he said that phrase, I broke out in laughter so hard that it made me cry. We could all try to imitate him, but only the original Paw could say it with just the right nuance. Paw was loud, obnoxious, and absolutely adored.
Oh, yes, I needed my fix, and I needed it bad.
Videos help, photos help, but I always wish for someone to invent a magic button to push that would stimulate the memory part of my brain to replay poignant scenes from my kids' childhoods. I just can’t accept that those days of innocence and frivolity now only exist in the minds of a few people.
So I dialed up Matt on his cell phone. “I need to hear Paw.”
Matt was obviously taken aback. I could imagine his expression.
“Uh...Paw’s not here,” he said weakly.
“Oh, but I think he is,” I admonished gently.
The awkward discomfort on the end of the line was palpable.
Thinking he might be in a public place and might be concerned about embarrassing himself, I asked, “Where are you?”
I could tell he sensed defeat. “Home,” he said in a small voice.
“Well, then, I need to hear Paw.”
Again, hesitation. “This is just weird,” he muttered.
Ed, talking in the background as he always does when I’m on the phone, offered, “Say OH CRAP.”
And then it happened. All the intervening years faded away, and I heard Paw’s familiar booming voice on the other end of the phone. “Oh, crrrrrap!”
I laughed until I cried. My baby still had it. Paw will never disappear, not as long as this despondent parent can coax his presence forth one more time. Paw has staying power. After all, next month he’ll be 24 billion years old!