Apr 23, 2007

But why?

I've been hanging out with some kids lately! This past weekend we went up to New Jersey and then to Connecticut, dropping in on my second cousins and their three boys (7-year-old Ethan, 5-year-old Ezra and 2-year-old Aidan) and then visiting with Tracy and Sheila who have Jack (almost a year) and are expecting another boy in July. Last week I attended Gabriel John Dubin's bris (he's the soft and pretty new boychik in my cousin Marc's family). Every couple weeks I walk home from work with Jim and see Asa as well, who was born in August so is about 8 months. This coming weekend I should hang out with a few girls (Hallie and Karina, both under a year, and maybe some others that will come to the WalkAmerica March of Dimes fundraiser).

All these kids develop at different rates, and it's really interesting to watch! Some are sitting up before the others, some say words and some don't, and in Jack's case he's practically walking but still can't crawl. Hallie was behind the eight ball in that she was extremely premature but (knock wood) seems to be keeping up with the rest of the class pretty well.

TJ and I joke around about what our boy will be like. We usually imagine him as becoming one of those curious types who tend to charm some people and annoy others.

You know how some kids are:

Kid: Dad, why do birds fly?

Dad: Well, because their bodies evolved to be able to take advantage of the air as a medium for, you know, moving through space.

Kid: Why?

Dad: Well, that's a question for an evolutionary biologist. I think they started out as some kind of reptile, and then gradually their bodies started to exhibit feathers and whatnot.

Kid: Why did that happen?

Dad: Um, maybe some of them who had a few feathers were able to get off the ground and escape predators, so they lived to reproduce where their no-feathers counterparts did not.

Kid: Why?

Dad: Because the ones with no feathers got eaten.

Kid: Oh no! Why?

Dad: Because there is this thing called the food chain. Unless you're at the top of it, you're supposedly going to get eaten by something that's higher up than you are.

Kid: But why?

Dad: Because that's how the world works.

Kid: That sucks for some animals.

Dad: I know, I guess we should be lucky that we're sort of on the top now so nothing will eat us. We just have to worry about wars and about killing each other...

Kid: Yeah. Why is there war?

Dad: In this particular instance, our President... actually, it's kind of a long story.

Kid: Oh. Why?

* * *

So that's how some kids are. Right? This kid is probably four or so, and everyone secretly wants to have this kind of kid because the kid is curious and smart and verbal. (Let's just call him Isaac for the time being.) Anyway, Isaac is totally knowledgeable about things that adults don't know about at all, like which atmospheric layer is the stratosphere and which one is the troposphere. Isaac also know the difference between Tyrannosaurus and Allosaurus, and he'll tell you which animals are endothermic and that a koala is not a true marsupial. Isaac cracks some people up, but his parents are worried that he won't socialize properly if he doesn't shut his trap and let other kids talk, including his little brother who is probably a mute because he can't get a word in anyway.

Anyway, who knows what our kid will be like, we're just guessing that he might be a little bit Aspergery (G-d forbid for real, just joking) and care overly much about racing cars or Sputnik or the history of the tractor, to the exclusion of other things.

Yesterday we were driving home, and I said, "Ok, let's practice."

TJ: Huh?

Me: How does the car work?

TJ: You put gas in it and it goes.

Me: Why?

TJ: Because of combustion.

Me: What's that?

TJ: Gas catches on fire in the presence of oxygen and burns. It needs oxygen, though, so usually the gas in your gas tank doesn't spontaneously combust like that lady was talking about on Car Talk.

Me: Why not?

TJ: Because there's a special valve in the intake pipe.

Me: Why?

TJ: Ok, stop.

* * *

I asked him what we would do if we had the "but why" kid who didn't grow out of the phase.

Can you believe he said, "Well, you haven't really outgrown it yourself."

I was like, "OMG!!! I'm the BUT WHY kid? I'M THE BUT WHY KID!! AGGHH!"

All of a sudden I thought of tons of examples, like how I always ask him about the characters on Lost and their inner motivations, like, "Why would Charlie even Trust Desmond, he's acting hella sketchy? And why the heck would John blow up the submarine, that, like, makes NO SENSE at all. I mean, why are they making Juliette out to be all evil, when all the flashbacks show her as a good person and people don't just turn evil overnight, right? And why do they write this dumb show as if they haven't even figured out what happens next week yet but they're just going to plant enough seeds of foreshadowing to make everything a possibility, which is really annoying to the viewing audience."

Every once in a while, he'll say, "Why are you asking me? I don't know." And I'll say, "Asking you what?" and he'll say, "All these questions?" and I'll say, "Oh, I guess they're rhetorical." And then he'll say, "How do I know if a question is rhetorical or if you want me to answer it? Sometimes it's confusing." And I usually say, "Well, if we're watching TV or a movie it's probably rhetorical."

So that's it. I AM THE BUT WHY KID. I hope I'm the charming version and not the annoying version, but the BUT WHY KID never knows which one he is. That's the rub.

Anyway, since I've already come out of the closet about this, I might as well ask you all some questions.

For example, why did Paul Simon write that song about Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After the War? Did he like Magritte's work in particular, or he just saw a photo of them after the war with a dog, and made up some random things but it didn't have anything to do with surrealism at all? Or did it? And is there anyone who knows? Did his friends ask him these questions after the album came out, and if so, did he answer them, so at least they know? Did he tell his Mom? Did he tell Carrie Fisher? Did she ask him about the song? If she didn't ask, did he get mad that she wasn't even curious? Is that why they got divorced? Or if not, WHY did they?


"Le rendez-vous de chasse", Bruxelles, 1934.

Sitting from left to right: Irène Hamoir, Marthe Beauvoisin, Georgette Magritte.
Standing from left to right: E.L.T. Mesens, René Magritte, Louis Scutenaire, André Souris, Paul Nougé.


Blogger bobvis opined...

I was that kid.

I'm still that kid.

I think part of the secret to dealing with such questions is to ask them "why what?" back. It isn't always obvious which why question they are asking.

8:10 PM  
Blogger AEW opined...

I think they got divorced because she is crazy.

Maybe he fantasized that life with Georgette Magritte and the dog after the war was just the kind of homey existence (and/or deep forbidden music) HE was longing for.

And on another note, I am terrified of asking why. I am under the impression that I'm supposed to KNOW. If EEK is a why kid, I will be doing both of us a serious disservice.

OMG, now there's something else to worry about!

10:26 PM  
Blogger Caroline opined...

What? Paul Simon was married to Carrie Fisher? Was that before he was married to Edie Brickell? I am so out of it.

One reason I like being a magazine writer is b/c it gives me a chance to ask WHY WHY WHY all the time and to people who are actual experts, with various collections of letters after their names.


p.s. Here's a question: Why do I have to type "uzhqiyah: into a little box in order to post this comment?!

12:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous opined...

Hello strange and mysterious other Dubin's. I am a Dubin actually the original John Dubin. I like to say hello to any other Dubin's I come across so "Hi", I live in california with a scattering of other Dubin's some related some not, including some who are Artist Dubin's and Actor/Actresses Dubin's. Our last name is rather uncommon unless your of Russian/Jewish ancestry so I thought "whats this another clan of Dubin's somewhere hey.... and could not resist checking out your blog. Actually I was narcissurfing to see if google had crawled my web site www.johndubin.com and came across this. After all it did say for the amusement of Dubin so I came in . Also thank your cousin for naming his kid after me the greatest of the West coast Dubin's. Anyways take care my fellow Dubin's and carry on with your Dubinish Dubining.

John Samuel Dubin

8:52 AM  

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