Sunday, May 01, 2005

My Other Niece Proves Me Wrong

A few months after the humiliating AIDS/ice cream incident detailed in my previous post, I sat at my brother’s house with his family and my new girlfriend.

I liked this particular girlfriend and she wanted to meet my family, so I willingly ran the risk that my brother’s kids would embarrass me again. Plus, I had naively hypothesized that my eldest niece had humiliation-proofed me.

My previous post laid out this hypothesis of mine- namely, that kids can only humiliate you so much. There was, I thought, an absolute bottom to an adult’s humiliation that no mere child could take you below. My eldest niece had taken me to that limit and now I was safe.

There were two things wrong with that hypothesis. First, it was postulated at a Ben and Jerry’s under the influence of Chunky Monkey ice cream. Most serious scientists know that chunks of anything can retard the scientific process; there’s no telling what actual chunks of monkey will do to it.

Secondly, I assumed that kids have some sort of control over what they say. I understand now that there is a hidden force that moves kids to embarrass adults. This same force, I believe, also forces kids to spill red juice on white carpets.

I sat next to my girlfriend on the couch and my youngest niece jumped into my lap and hugged me. I knew I was safe with this niece. There would be no talk about immunity-suppressing diseases and skin rashes. She was four years-old. She would spend most of her time talking about colors, numbers and cartoon characters.

As it turns out, I was right.

She looked at me lovingly and intently for a few seconds and asked me this:

“Uncle, why are your teeth yellow?”

I stopped smiling immediately so that my yellow teeth would not clash with my bright red face.

“Are they dirty?” she asked.

“It’s the coffee,” I cried out, but she had already moved on to counting the number of pimples on my face.

I was at the dentist the next day.