The moment they met, my son dubbed Zach E. the "meanest kid in my class". Never, and I mean never, did he refer to this child without that qualifier. Sometimes, just to mix things up a little, I would interrupt him before he got to the "meanest kid in my class part". He would say, "Zach E." and I would quickly interject "You mean, the meanest kid in your class?", to which he would invariably reply in the affirmative.
Not surprisingly, Zach E. felt exactly the same about Diminutive One. When they were near one another the air between them crackled and sizzled with the electricity of inexplicable irritation; antipathy hanging dark and heavy like storm clouds pregnant with rain. They had to be separated in the classroom...not because they were brawling, but because their dislike of one another made the other children uneasy. They would glance furtively back and forth between the two as if expecting a violent outburst any moment. But they never did fight. They would simply glare malevolenty at one another, silently but effectively telegraphing their shared loathing.
Nobody really knew why they hated each other so. The teacher found them both pleasant enough, and though both strong-willed, neither was ever considered a troublemaker. I spent a lot of time in the classroom as a volunteer, and I never saw Zach E. do anything to justify the moniker my son had bestowed upon him. I often wondered if he had a similar name for my son. It seemed that they pissed each other off just by their very existence.
I have certainly encountered people in my life that I experienced a profound and immediate aversion to. I think we all have, right? But five year olds don't make any pretenses when it comes to social niceties the way adults do. An adult might smile woodenly and feign civility in such a situation, but a 5 year old will glower and opine with unrestrained candor.
Once Diminutive One told me that Zach E. "Has a fat head. It's too round." Apparently he finds fat heads incredibly irksome. Zach E. confided to the teacher that Diminutive One is "too bouncy." To be fair, he is bouncy, and, it can be quite bothersome. Likewise, Zach E. does have a noggin to rival that of Charlie Brown. And it is a little...unsettling.
But I think what it really boiled down to was a case of two Alpha Males trying to reign over the same territory. That's always a recipe for disaster.
So given all that, you can imagine my astonishment when I came upon the scene in this picture:
On the very last day of school, amid the chaos of the Kindergarten picnic, they stole away to a leafy little glen and settled themselves on a small outcropping of earth, where they sat and blew bubbles in congenial, if somewhat tenuous, harmony.
For whatever reason, they had decided to put their differences aside and enjoy the most excellent combination of sunshine, bubbles, and freedom.
Wouldn't it be fantastic if all conflicts could be so easily resolved? What if GeeDubya and Osama could crack open a bottle of bubbles and effect world peace? In my imagination, it goes something like this.....GWB
: Osama, I have here in my posession, a bottle of, uhhhh, Bubble Light soap solution, the purpose of which, is for uhhh...blowing bubbles. Would you care to join me?Osama:
Well, George, I would be delighted, but as you know I am sworn to kill you along with all the sinners and infidels in your country. GWB:
I understand that, uhhh...Osama. I can empathize with this whole, uhhh...Jihad business. But the way I look at it, we can always get back to that tomorrow. Today, let's smoke a peace pipe together...metaphysically speaking of course. Osama
: I suppose I could take a break from international terrorism for just one day. The little Zan is always trying to get me to slow down anyway. Pass that bottle of bubbles this way. GBW:
Excellent. Here ya're...but go easy, there. Them are Texas bubbles, heh. Osama:
Oh George, you are a card. Texas bubbles indeed!
Osama and George sit quietly blowing bubbles, contemplative and companionable. Osama strokes his beard absently, while George squints thoughtfully. Occasionally, one remarks upon the bubble blowing prowess of the other. Their animosity is suspended like the perfect prismatic orbs that shimmer in the air around them. Finally, they speak...George:
Uhhhh, hey there Osama...what exactly are we fighting about anyway? Say, you're uhhh...dragging your beard in the bubbles there. Osama:
Why so I am, thank you. Actually, I'll be darned if I know. We do not believe the same things, but I cannot recall why this is a problem for either one of us. What's in these bubbles anyway George?George:
Truth my dear Osama. Truth. Osama (nodding thoughtfully):
Yes. I think your Texas Bubbles do hold some truth. The bubbles do not quarrel. They exist side by side in harmony. Let us follow the example of the bubbles, and put aside our differences in the name of peace. George:
Now that is the best idea I have heard in a long time. I think Achmed would be proud of us. Osama:
You mean Allah. George:
Yeah, that's what I said. Osama:
George, could I use that one that looks like a kazoo? George:
Absolutely Osama. What's mine is yours. Exept, you know...the Presidency, heh. Osama (laughing):
Ah George! Always with a joke. You are a joking jokester.
And so, the War Against Terror and the Jihad came to an end. The two great nations lived in peace for many decades and Osama and George remained lifelong bubble buddies....
If only it could be that simple. Maybe it is. Maybe age and conviction sometimes bring blindness instead of wisdom. Maybe we complicate things ourselves, and maybe, just maybe, something as simple and silly as bubbles actually could lend some clarity and perspective to those issues. Kids are a lot smarter than we supposedly enlightened adults give them credit for. Pity we don't follow their example more often.