Friday, August 17, 2007

The Dangerous Book for Boys not a book we really need here on Marshfield Avenue. There's plenty of danger to go around. And I'm not talking about gangbanging today. Just the usual boy fascination with stuff like bicycles and fire.

Last night Joey and three of his buddies were out in his backyard trying to fix somebody's flat tire. "Do you have some matches?" his big friend Eric asked me.

"What for?"

"It dries the glue," he explained. It seemed like they put on glue, lit up the tire like you would flaming cheese, then put on the patch. I didn't really get this, but as long as I was watching I was OK with them having a tire flambe out back.

"OK," I said, went in the kitchen and came back with a pack of matches. I handed it to Eric through the fence and watched them while I was picking tomatoes.

"Not so close to my finger!" Eric warned one of the smaller guys, who was about to light up the tire. "My finger has glue on it," he explained for my benefit.

They were holding the tire over the back porch steps. "Maybe you don't want to do that on top of wood," I suggested. "How about you do that on the concrete?" They moved over to the walkway.

Then it was somebody else's turn to hold the tire. Eric is kind of bossy. "Don't be scared to hold the tire," he urged. "You're scared."

"No, I'm not," muttered the little guy. He was. I didn't blame him, either. That glue sent up some pretty big flames.

Somehow they managed to fix the tire. Nobody burned any fingers, and the back porch also survived unscathed. After the flames subsided, I went in the house for a minute. When I returned to my backyard, I could hear them up front, talking about getting the tire back on the bike.

I joined them up front. "Could I have the matches back, please?"

"Oh, yeah," they said, remembering. Eric produced the pack. There were three left. Amusing.

At some point while all this was going on, Joey pulled me aside for a chat through the fence. "I'm doing real good in school so far," he informed me solemnly. "Much better than last year."

"That's good," I told him. "Maybe I'll come see your teacher next week."

"OK," he said.

His birthday is coming up. I asked him if he'd like to go to the Museum of Science and Industry to see CSI: The Experience. He said yes. Dawn wants to go, too. This could be their joint birthday present--they both have birthdays this month.

By the way, even though The Dangerous Book for Boys is perhaps unnecessary here, the trailer for it on You Tube is pretty cute. This is the trailer for Dangerous Book for Boys Part Deux. You can see some of the chapters. Maybe the chapter on building a go-cart would be fun to have on hand. I'm not sure bows and arrows are a great idea around here, but they're better than guns. And the rules for soccer are completely unnecessary.

The other thing about the trailer is it is all about father-son bonding. There's nothing about boys playing with other boys. This is one thing I love about this neighborhood--kids play with their friends and hang out while their dads work on cars or house projects. Both things are good--I wish Our Entire Culture could find better ways of balancing both kid-on-kid play and fun with parents.

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