An imaginary lap pool is enough to set them off.
The seventh-grader has put one in the basement of the dream house she designed for a school assignment. Boy, Esq. erupts in passionately-held opinions on the subject of lap pools.
They bicker on and off for longer than it would take to dig a lap pool. Any minute, I expect him to threaten her with imaginary code enforcement.
There is a car ride, not long, but long enough for him to lecture his sister and me on the subject of nutritional and parenting failures. His true grievance is that he wants to go straight home and I promised the girl a fast-food stop - a layover that will cost him 15 minutes of couch-sitting time. Also, why should she get to sit in the front seat? Why should he? There are no good answers.
Which raises another question we have to settle immediately: Does Justin Bieber even have any talent? This is just provocation on the boy's part and the girl knows it. But it's a fight she has been waiting for practically her entire teenage life. She's got enough facts, figures and lyrics to fan the flames for days. She will never say never. She will fight till forever.
But it is a poetry reading compared to the anguish that arises over a desk. The desk is a gift for the boy, but it remains unassembled in the garage for a week, which in father-time is no more than the time it takes the earth to rotate on its axis approximately 7 times.
To the 16-year-old, it's seven times infinity, a period he will use to infinitely plead, whine, argue and spew queries that begin with When? Why? Why not? Why not now? and If not now, when? directed to the one parent who can do absolutely nothing to speed up either his father or the earth's rotation.
Against this chorus, Mr. Kamikaze calls home from the comfort of a train seat. A baby cries in the background.
"I just thought you might want a reminder of what life used to sound like," he says. The idea being thank god we don't have to listen to that anymore.
Is that one of those New Age soundtracks? I say. Because it sounds like Rain Through The Palm Fronds from here. Wait, are those crickets?