Answers to life’s questions (and funds for college) found in Zone of Radioactivity
I think I found Jimmy Hoffa the other day. Like the Sunday School kid who, knowing of Adam’s creation from dust, thought he’d found him under his bed, the thought (I’ll admit it) crossed my mind. “Could it be?”
The reason I was under the bed at all that day was because of a phone call I’d gotten. It was my sister-in-law, ringing me up to say they were coming for a wedding, and could they stay here?
“Sure,” I said. “You can have the boys’ room.” Then I did what I always do when company’s coming. I hyperventilated, freaked out and hit the panic button with a rubber mallet. (Don’t judge. At least I’ve got a system.)
Anyway, about 4 days out, I sent the troops in to restore some law and order on the wild frontier. In theory, they were sorting, straightening, organizing, filing and folding. In reality, they were milling around, hitting each other and fussing with the volume on the CD player. Or, in one case, flopped across the bed, immersed in a book. At my appearance in the doorway, The Reader shoved the book under a pillow, flipped upright and was folding a shirt in a move so quick I almost missed it. Almost.
Seeing that this could take well into the next presidency, I sighed, grabbed a pair of goggles, self-administered a tetanus shot and waded into the Zone of Radioactivity, otherwise known as The Boys’ Room.
I learned two things real quick. One, if the U.S. mint is experiencing a penny shortage, I know why. And two, at least 75% of the LEGOs ever manufactured are at my house. Upstairs. In cracks. Behind furniture. Under beds. In drawers. On top of dressers. And under my right foot.
Stepping on a hard, plastic building block is a test of your moral character. This one’ll separate the sheep from the goats; the fakes, frauds and phonies from the real-deal folks in a New York minute.
It’s called the LEGO dance. The minute your foot comes down on one, searing pain shoots up your leg, passes your kidneys and hits your scalp. Instinctively, you grab the injured foot and commence to hopping up and down on one leg, thereby finding flamingo qualities heretofore undiscovered.
As tears stream down your cheeks and your hair catches fire, it hits you. Your kids are watching with eyes the size of frisbees, and it better be a “hallelujah” that makes it out from between your teeth.
If you’re the parent of a little builder, you’ll know exactly what I mean. We “dancers,” we know good and well that there were no LEGOs scattered on the shoreline when Columbus first set foot on New World soil. Had he hit one, he would’ve thrown up his hands, shouted, “Forget that!” in an Italian accent and sailed right back across “the ocean blue.” This, of course, after finding his own inner flamingo.
Back, now, to the Zone of Radioactivity. The amount of flotsam and jetsam you find in boys’ bedrooms is shocking. Missing game pieces. Bits of paper. CDs, DVDs, books, cars, pennies and socks.
When something under the bed growls at you and moves away, you’ve got an issue. But you’ve got an answer, too, to the universal mystery that’s plagued scientists, physicists and Maytag repairmen for years. And that’s this, “Where in the world do the socks go anyway?”
I know where they are. They’re moldering under beds, in closets, behind the dresser and crammed in a sibling’s drawer. Oh, yes. And crumpled up under an old homework assignment that “the dog ate.” That’s where.
If there were a Nobel Sanitation Prize, I’d nominate myself. Shoot, I’d second the motion using an alias and a disguise if I had to. I would. Restoring law and order on such a wild frontier is not nothing. It’s not. Neither is vanquishing the concomitant locker room and gym bag odors. That’s not, either. (Thank you, Febreze.)
Excavating like a khaki-clad archaeologist in the Mojave Desert was more than worth it, though. With all the change I found, Little Schrock can go to college. (I hope they don’t mind if I pay tuition in pennies.) My washer guy can stop banging his head, and I solved one of the great and perplexing mysteries of the world. That’s a lot to accomplish in one afternoon.
To my relief, all that dust under the bed wasn’t Mr. Hoffa. Or Adam, for that matter. According to a recent news report, the FBI is looking for Jimmy in a field somewhere. Come to think of it, they didn’t mention Adam.
Like Mr. Sendak, I, too, know where the wild things are. They’re in that room upstairs, losing their socks. With all the LEGOs I found, I can build models of all three of ‘em, not to mention their school, our town and the house. If there are any left, I’ll build a replica of the Santa Maria just to celebrate a successful, LEGO-free landing in the New World.