He whips out I-Wannas like dollar bills in a dive of ill repute. Today's I-Wanna is, "I wanna learn to make peanut butter." He spreads it out tenderly on the table of discussion. I'm surprised to see it there. I don't know where he got such an alien thing or why he wants to dissect it with me.
"I know how to make peanut butter," I say to my husband who joins me on the broiling bleachers at one of the hundreds of baseball games one or another of our sons plays in.
By the way he says "You do?" it's obvious he doesn't believe me.
But of course I do, I tell him, leaning forward to put my elbows on my knees and peering out to center field. I learned how when I was a kid. I poke at his I-Wanna specimen with a stick. "You never made peanut butter when you were little?"
The bait takes. He asks me how to make it.
Reeling him in real slowly, I start with detailing how to shell the roasted peanuts and taking off the skins. Then I explain, "Put them in your mouth," and mime stuffing mine full and talking like no space is left. "Then you chew. And you chew. And chew. And chew. Until you have peanut butter." I pretend to spit it out and ask, "Want a sandwich?"
He gathers his limp I-Wanna off of the cold discussion table and tucks it back into the odd corner of his brain from whence it sprouted. Peanut butter doesn't sound so appetizing anymore. We both lean back in the bleachers and watch the game. The first base umpire calls an out. "Can you believe that?" I ask my mate. "He was so safe! Why isn't the coach arguing the call?"
My spouse exchanges his irrational I-Wanna for logic. "It's just a scrimmage."
"You're right," I concede. "I should save my Can-Of for later, when it counts."
"Your what? Your Can-Of? What can?" he taunts, knowing exactly what I keep in my pantry.
"My can of whoop-hmm. You know what's in it."
"Ffffff-t," he answers.
Sitting straight up on the hot metal bench, I threaten, "Don't make me show it to you."
"I've seen it before. It's so cute," he squeaks, holding out his fingers to indicate its diminutive size. Then he prisses with his hand on his hip, mocking, "It sprays, 'That'sssss-t not Nice-sssss-t. Hey Misssss-ster, don't do that.'" And he laughs while making the fffff-t sound and depressing the nozzle on an imaginary petering-out aerosol can. Ffff-t, fffff-t.
I scoot over on the bleachers and clap for my son's bunt. I can see there isn't enough room for him, me, his I-Wanna and my Can-Of. "Oh, c'mon. Where're you going," he jibes. "Don't leave mad. You know I'm just playing with you."
I'm not mad.
He says, "So, what? You're going back to the dollar store to get another Can-Of? That's cheap stuff. You need to get some boutique Can-Of so at least the ffffff-t smells perfumey."
Changing the subject, I invite him to come home for lunch tomorrow. Through a smile sweeter than a 6-month old's, I offer to make him a sandwich. I lean in toward him to impress him with my gooey sincerity.
He gets stuck in it and asks, "Really? Thanks. What kind?"
"Peanut butter," I say, "homemade." But he isn't paying attention.
Clapping and feigning fan involvement, he quietly ffff-ts to himself.
I'll probably make him two sandwiches. As his helpmate, it's my duty to bring his I-Wannas to life any way I Can-Of.
Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson. E-mail Lucy at lucybgoosey@ aol.com and visit her Web site, www.IfMama.com.