I enlisted my nephew to help me with my annual, absolutely-must, summer garage clean-out.
Since my children had the bad grace to grow up and leave home, I now turn to the next generation, as my back gets dicier.
It was glorious to have a big, strong, bright 16-year-old willing to lend me a hand.
OK, fine. He did more than lend a hand. He did it all. But I directed.
As utterly delightful it was having him do all the heavy lifting, his company had additional and unexpected bonuses, as well.
First of all, he had his iPod at the ready and swiftly figured out how to plug it into one of the old TVs.
It was great to have “music to clean by” and to our mutual amazement, I liked most of his playlist. We were happily bopping and hopping as the garage got sorted. The only glitches were his techno selections. I kept asking him if they were stuck in a loop (or “Is the needle stuck?” in my generation’s terms). He kept laughing at the question. I am also beyond fortunate that I have a 16-year-old nephew who isn’t mortified when his 61-year-old auntie starts dancing in public. I kept it to a minimum, but still …
Then, to make it more than a pleasant chore, this manchild kept me laughing for four hours. You sort of had to be there, but the basic theme was his uncle, my husband.
He has quietly observed my taciturn, bright, eccentric spouse for years and has created a hilarious alter ego for him. I think it all began when he found out his uncle was a Green Beret during Vietnam. My husband joined the Special Forces so he could be a political advisor who used words rather than guns, and spent a fascinating but fairly uneventful year as a liaison with a mountain tribe village. However, my nephew prefers to put forth the premise that my husband is some sort of super secret spy brain who actually keeps the world safe for freedom — and it is hilarious.
“Uncle Lon isn’t magic. He’s a scientist. It’s just a science that we are not familiar with,” he explained with a grin.
As we sifted through the junk (mostly collected by said husband), my nephew created various heroic scenarios for his mysterious uncle.
“Uncle Lon,” he began, as he picked up a tangled fishing rod, “defeated the Nazis from an alternate dimension, with just this.”
Throughout the afternoon, he ad-libbed with each new, odd item we unearthed.
“See this paint roller?” he grinned. “Uncle Lon brought on the final defeat of Genghis Khan with just this roller and a can of indoor/outdoor acrylic gloss.”
Observations included the fact that Uncle Lon had beaten Sun Tzu at chess, several centuries ago. In addition, he defeated a clan of ninjas with nothing but a hangnail.
His uncle had, it seems, dethroned the pharaohs with just a bamboo pole and a pipe wrench. He had also overthrown several South American dictators with nothing but a Ka-bar knife and the half-used roll of duct tape we found.
By now I was crying from laughing so hard, waiting to hear what my mythic husband had done with the brass hinges or the box of sprinkler pieces we just found.
When we got to the gardening detritus, it seems that the uncle was actually raising a super-strain of acid-resistant trees in our backyard (this is where my nephew generally encounters his uncle). When asked why the nation might need acid-resistant plants, he retorted, “Well, there’s a reason but we, of course, are not privy to it.”
He finished by noting that his uncle also had a private line at the DMV.
Now that’s a super power.
Jean Gillette is the Community News editor for The Coast News Group. As a journalist, she primarily worked in San Clemente and Los Angeles. She has been with the Coast News for 20 years and lives in La Costa.