Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Edward Harris -- Grand Marshal of the Parade

Eddie has always been a very gregarious and social youth, though not as much with his own peers. He adores older women. And when I say older, I mean women his mother's age. He loves Moms. And he socializes with all of them.

At school, he knows all the Moms by name, and they all know him. His first grade class last year had a reading day every week when the Moms would come in and be read to by the children in class. Eddie used this as a unique social opportunity to work the Moms. He particularly liked one with long, beautiful red hair.

Many boys go through an Oedipus complex at some point in their early youth—Eddie seems to have a Mrs. Robinson complex.

Last year, I was working with the boys on swimming lessons. We would go to Ida Lee every weekend to swim, and I would spend 30 minutes alone with each boy, while I let the other "free-swim" in the kiddie pool. It worked well, allowing me to focus on the unique strengths and weaknesses of each boy without there being a sense of competition or exasperation if one boy was clearly less able than the other.

Eddie put this time to good use. When Luke and I would be swimming, I would glance over and see Eddie clearly socializing with whichever Mom was in the pool with her kids. He never would play with their children and would instead chat with the Mom in a most ebullient manner. The Moms were often enamoured and a little bit confounded by this seven year old boy who found them so interesting, so captivating, so desirable.

More than one time at the pool, or a grocery store, or a soccer practice, I would see Eddie scan the crowd like a heat seeking missile, lock his eyes upon a particularly attractive Mom, and head straight up to them, saying, "Hi, how ya doin'?" (wink-wink, nudge-nudge)

Last July, Eddie's cub scout pack was invited to participate in the Town's fourth of July parade. Living in a small town has its charms, and one of Purcellville's charms is its love of parades. We love parades! We have parades all the time! There's a parade for the fourth of July, town founders' day, Halloween, and Christmas. What's funny, it's the same parade every time. Anybody with a truck, trailer or farm vehicle, plus the fire station and rescue squad, all line up to drive down main street throwing candy. I think three-quarters of the town is actually in the parade. And even the candy is recycled. Last Christmas, they were still throwing candy-corn from the previous Halloween.

So, the cub scouts were invited to participate, and we brought a long flatbed trailer stacked with hay bales, pulled behind our cubmaster's SUV. We had something like twelve boys participate, and gave the boys around twenty bags of candy to throw at the crowd. This being our first parade, candy disbursement techniques were not scientifically managed. Almost all of the candy had been thrown out before we even got off Orchard Street onto Main Street.

The hay was stacked on the trailer in a rough, two level pyramid: a base layer on which the boys sat, and a thin row on top of that for them to put their backs to. So each boy would sit facing one side of the street or the other, throwing candy and waving. (Or just waving, since we so quickly ran out of candy.) Eddie was not satisfied with sacrificing one side of the street to the other, so he elbowed himself into the one and only seat at the front of the trailer, so he could face both sides of the street.

Happy as a clam, and grinning like a debutant, he was then able to wave to both sides of the street, and imagined himself the presiding official of the cub scout float. What happened next surprised me.

As we're processing down the street, I began to hear various women in the crowd yelling at us:

"Hi Eddie!"

"Oh, it's Eddie! Hi Eddie!"

"Look, there's Eddie! Wave at Eddie!"

Some of these women I didn't even know!

And all the while, Eddie is waving and grinning and shouting, "Hi! Mrs. Poncin!" "Hi! Mrs. Johnson!" "Hi! Mrs. Diloreto!" "Hi! Mrs. Wolfe!" Eddie was working his fan club!

Luke's soccer coach, and husband to one of Eddie's Moms, gave Eddie the moniker "Fast Eddie" because Eddie was always socializing with the coach's wife during Luke's practice. And early this year, when my wife was introducing herself to another PTA Mom, the Mom asked her which child was hers. Becky described Eddie, and there was a flash of recognition in the lady's face.

Becky sheepishly asked her, "Did he hit on you?"

The Mom replied, "Well, yes... actually, he did!"

"Yep! That's Eddie!"

So, if you're a 30-40-something woman with kids, and if a handsome young boy ever comes up to you in the grocery store and hits on you, yeah, that's my boy! That's Eddie.

Don't worry. He's harmless.

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