Children don’t always hear and understand perfectly what grown-up people tell them. So it was with me and the term “human bean.” My parents were repeatedly saying that I was a “human being” like all other “human beings.” But I, of course. insisted on hearing that I was a “human bean.”
It made perfect sense to me. Mom was always saying to me at every meal, “Michael, eat your beans. Before you can leave the table you must clean your plate. So, eat ALL of your beans.”
Great Grandma always told me, “You are what you eat.”
And I believed her. That meant that more than fifty percent of me was made entirely of beans.
But Great Grandma told me that beans were protein and you needed protein to build muscles. And you also needed protein for your brain to think with.
So, I was a human bean.
And as a budding artist, I noticed things. I had visual proof.
.People like me who were bean-heads tended to be smarter people than those whose heads were flat-on top or flat in the back. It made sense. A bean-shaped head had more room in the back for brains. And that meant that bean-headed Mr. Greenjeans was actually smarter than round-headed Captain Kangaroo. And some bean-headed people were really good at basketball. John Havlicek and Wilt Chamberlin were better basketball players than the New York Knicks had, probably because they were smarter. with their bean brains.
And as a child with a bean-shaped body, I had proof that I wasn’t just “full of beans” as Great Grandma said, I was MADE of beans. That meant the fat parts of my bean-body were actually pure muscle.
One day I was out in a pasture at Uncle Larry’s farm flying my box kite, the one I made myself with only a little help from my dad.
As I was flying it high enough to be seen from far away, two girls I knew from school and lived nearby came up to me to admire my kite as it flew.
Coraline Bigsby was a couple months older than me and a grade ahead of me in school. Alicia Stewart was a couple months younger than me and in my second-grade class.
“Wow,” said Alicia. “I have never seen a kite like that fly so high. How did you get it up there?”
I was probably blushing as I answered, since I secretly had a crush on her, the prettiest girl in our school. “I know the magic secrets to get it to fly like that.”
“Could you let us try?” Coraline asked. She was blonder and plumper than Alicia, but still generally a nice girl.
I handed Coraline the kite string. Almost instantly the wind died down and the kite floated gently down to the pasture grass.
The two girls both were instantly sorry that they had been the cause of my kite coming down. But no matter which one held the kite and which one held the string, they couldn’t get it up in the air again.
“Okay, Mike, what’s the magic secret to getting it to fly?” said Coraline, frustrated.
I, of course, with my great bean-brain, decided it was the perfect time to tell an evil lie. “This kite will only go up if you reduce wind resistance by taking off all your clothes.”
“My parents would kill me, if I did that,” said Coraline. “It is a bad thing to do.”
“Well, I don’t know about that,” said Alicia, “But I’m way too shy to take my clothes off in front of a boy.”
“You didn’t do that to get it up the first time, Mike. You’re lying to us.” Coraline was getting mad.
“Yes, I did. You two weren’t here then. I put my clothes back on before you got here.”
“There isn’t any reason to do it that way anyway. What’s the advantage of being naked?” Coraline growled.
“Your clothes block the wind that’s needed to make the box kite fly. That’s what’s different about box kites.”
“Why don’t you show us, Michael. That will prove you are telling the truth,” said Alicia.
My eight-year-old bean brain began to panic. I was putting my own foot into the evil trap I tried to set. Okay, maybe not precisely my foot. I had to let them uncover my lie, or I had to uncover everything else.
Coraline was glaring at me. Alicia was smiling.
Well, you made your own horrible situation come to pass, Mickey. What are you going to do?
When I first took them all off and put back on my shoes, Coraline covered her eyes and Alicia blushed, but smiled as she watched everything I did. I was worried what they would say when I couldn’t get the kite back up in the breeze. But it almost immediately caught the wind and went up even higher than before. They were both happy to hold the string for a short time. But when I asked them if they would use my magic method to get it back up, they both declined. They were perfectly happy to stand next to me while I flew the kite in my bean-body birthday suit. They giggled a lot and looked at me more than they looked at the kite. But they were both happy with how that day went.
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Filed under autobiography, commentary, empathy, humor, lying, Paffooney