When Beenie's mama came in to drop him off one day last week, she looked uncharacteristically worried. "I'm not sure," she began falteringly, "but I think he has been saying 'ass.'"
I hit my temple with the heel of my hand a couple times, blinked hard, and grabbed a tissue to clean the wax out of my ears. "What was that again?" I asked, refusing to believe what I had heard.
I was pretty sure she couldn't be right about this. How could this be? Why would this purely angelic nine-month-old boy say such a thing--more than once, no less? Nope. It just wasn't computing.
I hoisted Beenie over to ride on my hip and together, we saw his mama out the front door and off to teach the wonderful nuances of the English language to her freshmen. "Huh. What do you think about that?" I said to Beenie, whereupon he flashed me that lady-killer smile and promptly responded, "Ass."
As it turned out, this was only the beginning of what can only be called an "ass"-filled morning. The various scenarios that played out were indeed rich--uh--fodder for the baby book.
For instance, we are playing with our crate of baby toys, many of which, understandably, are shaped like animals. "Here's your horsie," I say, handing him a stuffed equine with a teething ring sewn to its legs.
"Ass," Beenie says, correcting me. I look again and decide he might be right. Its legs are pretty short, after all, and its color has deteriorated to a rather dull shade of gray.
Next, we are rocking and singing that perennial children's favorite, "Old MacDonald." "And on his farm," I croon, "he had a--"
"Ass," Beenie says. Well, okay. I guess that will work. After all, Pa-pa runs a donkey with his cows to protect the calves from coyotes. So I add a few "hee-haws" to that verse and go on, trying not to give this phenomenon a whole lot of positive attention. After all, Beenie's parents may want to someday take him out in public and they will want his vocabulary to be a bit broader and more refined.
Later, it becomes apparent that it is time to change the diaper. (I should have seen this one coming.) "Now," I say to Beenie," let's check that bottom of yours."
"Ass." Well, what do you say to that? By now, I am having a lot of trouble trying to keep the laughs in check. With a fresh diaper in place, we meet Pa-pa coming in the front door with a handful of mail.
"Ass," Beenie says to Pa-pa, who has not had anyone call him that to his face--at least, not since he retired from his job as the director of a secondary vocational school. "Oh," I say, no longer able to confine the laughs, "he's not really such a bad guy."
I have no doubt that Beenie's often repeated "word of the day" consisted only of randomly combined phonemes that just happened to create a hilarious effect in a variety of viable contexts he couldn't possibly understand. He probably picked up on the reactions of the adults around him. He is at the age where he likes our attention, and that day, I think it is safe to say he captured quite a bit of it.
I debated whether or not to blog about this experience. After all, I would never want to offend any reader or have "Googie's Attic" lose its "G" rating. But I figure if the word in question can appear numerous times in the King James Version of the Bible, it can't be that bad to use it a few times here.
Keep it up, Beenie Boy. You have our undivided attention. If your future language experiments are anywhere near as good as this one, we are all going to have a great time watching you learn to talk.