Word of the Day

Like Pee-Wee's Fun House, the bun has a word of the day which invariably sends him into paroxysms of laughter. The tricky part is figuring out what the word is. We first discovered this phenomenon when I said, "Duuude" and he laughed so hard I thought he might break something. I showed him off to his pop, and we both said "Dood" all night long while the bun laughed and laughed.

But the next day we couldn't even raise a half-cocked smile. Stone-faced sobriety countered our goofy "Dude" antics, and in desperation we changed the tone, the pitch, the timbre. Like a head on Easter Island, he gazed through us, beyond us. We were crushed. Doesn't anybody remember laughter?

Days passed. During one spectacularly eventful feeding, I noted that the bun was an extreme mess-maker. His father looked at him in jocular accusation: "Mess-maker!" The bun laughed. "Mmmmmmmess-maker!" He laughed harder. Both of us said it: "Mess-maker!" and the bun, covered in mess, bobbled with glee. We had found the word of the day.

We've learned that it's never the same word twice. We can throw in a "Dude" or a "Mess-maker" to test the theory, and if it's not the right word, he looks at us with curious detachment waiting patiently for the real word of the day. And to keep us on our toes, the bun has thrown in variations. We must be creative to mine the cleverly hidden key to the bun's giggle switch.

The other night the bun was wallowing on his Pop like a lemur in a jungle tree, hopping from branch to branch, and falling back with all his weight onto his recumbent father. One good karate-chop in my husband's throat expelled a strangled gargle, "Ackghh" and the laughter began. It was a difficult challenge to replicate the sound of a herd of dying sea lions, but my husband is a dedicated man, and he thoroughly explored the "word" of the day while I documented it all on tape. The bun crossed over into hysteria he was laughing so hard.

For Christmas his Grandpa bought him an enormous goat for a stuffed animal, one Capricorn to another. This eerily life-like critter stands around the house looking goaty, and often surprises us behind corners because for a moment we believe there's a stray farm animal who snuck in the house when we weren't looking. And the bun, who's learning to walk with the aid of his Radio Flyer push wagon, loves to push his little cart to and fro past the goat-sentry.

"Baa-aah," said the goat as the bun passed him on his circuit of the living room. "Baa-aaah" said the goat as the bun passed him again coming in from the kitchen. "Baa-aah," said the goat as the bun picked up speed, stumbling forward inexorably towards the Radio Flyer's destiny with the cats' water dish. And then with a somewhat sickening thud down went the goat, stiff legs up in the air like lightening-quick rigor mortis while my husband, channeling the goat's pain said, "Baaa-aaauugh-ggaaarghhhh...."

I don't know if there could ever be more laughter from something so disturbing. Maybe it's not the word of the day, but the Three Stooges moment of the day, or the Warner Brothers anvil-on-the-head day.

Whatever it was, we just kept saying "Baaahh-aaaurrgghh-gurgle-sputter" to eke out one more laugh.