I have a very nicely framed piece of parchment from the University of Texas at Austin that will assure any and all who gaze upon it that I have garnered unto myself a great many learnings in the ways of the dramatic arts. However, even with all this knowledge, there is one particular area that I have not studied much, and that is the art of dramatic improvisation. Thankfully, I have friends who have studied improv, and they've given me a few pointers on the basics. According to these most well-educated friends, the most important rule of improv is to never say no. Whatever your fellow improvisers do or say, go along with it. Take them lemons and improvise some lemonade. If you say no, you shut down the action, but if you say yes, you open up the possibilities.
Which brings me to tonight's dinner. It's often a challenge getting our eldest child to come to the table. Even at times when he actually does yearn for sustenance, the very fact that he's being asked to do something often elicits a contrary response. Tonight was no exception. He only came running, finally, because he thought somebody might be messing with the food that he wasn't eating. See how them logics works? That's MY food, be I eatin' it or be I not!
So little dude's seated at the table and we have our quorum. Food's making its way into everybody's mouth, everything's schmoove, everything's cool, and there's certainly nobody at this particular dinner table who's considering any kind of jokesmanship, least of all the brand that will get your ass blasted by a mighty lightning bolt of heavenly vengeance. That was the farthest thing from anyone's mind, that is, until Henry noticed the baby monitor receiver sitting behind him and decided to play with it. And the light bulb went off on top of my head....not the usual bulb, but the black one that's powered by the spirit of cunning and trickery that often whispers in my ear and tells me to do horrible awful things.
"I have to, uh, go do a thing." I mumbled. I stepped away from the table and slipped quietly upstairs into the bedroom where the other end of the baby monitor sat on the dresser, waiting to deliver whatever messages I spoke into it. I turned it on and prepped my voice.
"Hello Henry." I said. Smooth as silk. From downstairs I hear a small boy's gasp, and then "Hello?"
"Hello Henry." I say again. "You should eat your dinner." I hear Ashley giggling. I hear her ask "Who is this?" And before I can come up with an answer, I hear her ask "Is this Jesus?"
The rules of improv are clear. I have to say yes.
"Yes, this is Jesus." I answer. "Henry, you should eat your dinner."
"Oh my, it's Jesus!" I hear Ashley say.
"This is Mama." I hear him say.
"Hello Mama." I say. I hear Ashley gasping for breath.
"This is baby Simon." Henry is going through his introduction ritual.
"Hello Henry. You really should eat your dinner."
At this point, I'm wondering just how evil I am, not only for messing with my kid's mind, but for doing so in the guise of the son of God. No lightning's struck yet, so I cut the conversation short and head back downstairs.
"What'd I miss?" I ask. Ashley's face is as red as a freshly spanked bottom. Henry is staring at the receiver, waiting for more words to come out. Tonight's improvisational performance has come to a close.