Henry showed up for breakfast the other day bedazzled.
His mom brought him down just as the valley roosters were beginning to consider making some noise, which is way too damn early, but whatever. I was already up anyway.
Mom split back for the sheets as soon a she slid him into his high chair and I stared in on talking too my little buddy about what was on the menu for this fine summer morning at The Inn Of The Microwave Pancake.
“So, dude, tell me, you feelin’ some toast and honey this morning or what?” I started in on him.
“Mmmmm….NO!?” he replied, his high-pitch ‘no’ curling up at the end like a little question that he enjoys tossing back into my face; it’s like….”uhhhh, dad, how about NO?”
Pretty typical, I thought. That’s usually his stock reply to the first six thousand questions of the day.
“No?”, I countered. “Okay how about some bananas and milk and raisins for the hungry fella, huh?!”
“Mmmmm….NO!?” he belted back.
“Smoked Salmon with capers and red onion on a bed of tender shoots and greens?” Now I was just playing with his ass.
“Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm…..,” he stretched out the first part and paused for a moment I thought that maybe I had myself a little foodie on my hands there, but then he landed the plane with his: “……………NO!?”
Right, I thought. You get microwave pancakes, booger. I threw two on the carousel.
I went to give Hank his bottle of milk then and that’s when I caught my first glimpse of it. It was a swift flash of color…of pink. It caught a ray of lamplight form overhead and sent a laser of pinkness spraying into my eye as I slid the kid his drink.
I moved in and lifted his Joe Dirt mullet off of his ear and there it was.
A friggin’ earring on the top of his ear.
A PINK ONE.
A single pink crystal sort of stud.
Henry guzzled his milk and fought his neck to raise his eyes up to see what dad was so interested up there. He was acting like he didn’t know anything about it. He was acting all dumb.
“Henry David Bielanko,” I barked, trying to sound fatherly stern, but non-threatening and willing to talk things out all at the same time.
He slammed his bottle down on the tray under his chin and quickly tried to deflect things.
“Mmmmmmmmmmmmmm…NO!?,” was all he could come up with.
“Mmmmmmmmmmm, YES!” I shot back. “Dude, you have a pink earring on the top of your damn ear flap, son! What the hizzell is going on here?!”
He picked up the bottle and started swigging again. End of conversation!, he was saying, in his own one-and-a-half-year-old way.
I studied the specimen real close now, touching it like it was a hot coal and bending his ear top to catch a little more lamplight.
Then it dawned on me: this wasn’t the kid’s doing, man. This wasn’t anyone’s strange surprise for dear old dad. Oh no, indeed. It dawned on me then that Henry, in his infinite ballet of climbs and tackles and falls and rolls, had somehow managed to come into contact with some sort of pink piece of plastic, probably fallen off of a toy or something.
And it had stuck to his ear roof.
Now, I was intrigued. I began to see this big pink stud differently. This wasn’t a youth-gone-wild act of utter defiance! This was a completely natural occurrence with hilarious benefits!
After breakfast, I let Henry down onto the ground to slam himself into walls and stuff thinking that the moment had passed and that the ‘earring’ would soon fall away from his head on it’s own. I mean how was it even stuck there to begin with, you know?
Well, by late afternoon my day had become tangled up in my own minor obsession as the pink stud remained a part of my boy’s get-up for the day, along with his Willie Nelson onesie and a pair of maple-syrupy shorts.
Then, I broke out the camera, because it had to be done. Henry The Bedazzled went to bed that night with the fairest of decor upon his tender ear. By this time, I was wishing that it would stay there forever. I had fallen in love with the thing and the idea that Henry seemed so nonplussed to wear it.
It had come to represent my love for my son and his love of living this wonderful life.
I was probably paying too much attention to it, huh?
Anyway, the next morning at breakfast, it was gone, fallen off in the thick of the night somehow.
I laid Henry’s pancakes down in front of him and went upstairs to his crib, you know, to see if I could spot the sparkle and rescue it. But it was nowhere to be found.
I turned that damn bed upside down, but it was gone gone gone.
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