Mystery meat

You hear about it happening to other parents, but you just know it can't happen to you. You brought your children up with values and morals, and they simply wouldn't trash all your training for self-gratification of the lowest order. It's not something that is supposed to happen in good families. If your children start up with this stuff, you hide it from your friends out of embar-rassment and with good cause. Who wants their children to consort with someone who'd stoop to this level of behavior?

My son has been eating Spam.

To my shame, I enabled his habit by having a Costco-sized pack of it in the house. I think it's been here since the 1980s as a food storage item. It is much like those glass-covered fire alarm switches, to be used only in case of emergency.

I checked. There is no culinary emergency in our home. This is why I am baffled.

Why would he stoop to such a low? Did I teach him nothing? What's next - Twinkies? They both have the shelf life of Ted Kennedy's political career, but that's not the point. Longevity should not be the benchmark in a food item's consumptive qualities. Unless of course you're a poor college student who will eat anything, up to and including four-day-old pizza stuck to the cardboard box it came in and/or food that has had its fuzzy covering of mold removed in order to make it more palatable. Not that I ever did any of those things while I was a poor college student. Much.

He's neither a poor college student nor a starving artist. I'm baffled.

This is not the first time his behavior has brought me to open-mouthed amazement.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. Teenage boys do not have the brains God gave chipmunks.

My son pulled up his shirt Saturday evening to show me a red welt on his shoulder. Not only was he showing it to me, he was bragging about how it got there. Seems he and his friends were having a BB gun fight. With actual BB guns. Shooting at each other. With guns. Loaded guns. Shooting. Actual aiming at another person and hitting them. On purpose. With high-velocity projectile weapons.

son, pulling up shirt: "Check this out!"

me, getting in close to look: "Oh honey, what happened?"

son, with huge grin: "Jonathan got me with the BB gun."

me, eyes widening: "He shot you with a BB gun?"

This is where I had a sudden impulse to call Jonathan's parents and ask them how they could raise such an irresponsible child.

son, proudly: "Yeah, but I hit him first!"

At this point I realized that there was never going to be a way to fix this child. He is, after all, male. And when I say male, I mean it in the worst possible sense of the word. Bruises, cuts, scrapes and sucking chest wounds are all badges of honor with the male species. He's still proud of the time he got his fingers caught in a blender and lived to show off the mangled mess to his buddies. Last week he ripped off a fingernail sitting on his skateboard and riding it down a hill. He couldn't wait to show me.

Like I said, chipmunks have more brains. And they probably wouldn't touch Spam, or shoot their pals with BB guns. Of course, that whole lack-of-an-opposable-thumb thing would hinder their ability to do so, but you can bet that male chipmunks have thought about it while their mothers slapped their furry fore-heads and wondered where they went wrong.

I'm considering wrapping my son in bubble wrap till he's of legal age just so he'll live that long. Then he can be someone else's problem. Don't worry, I'll put enough Spam in there with him so he won't starve. Just don't tell my friends.

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