I intended to watch this season’s inaugural episode of The Apprentice so as to begin a string of season long reviews of the show. However, my objective was interrupted by a rapping at my chamber door. It was my son standing with the decomposed remains of Edgar
Allan Poe interrogating it for clues as to what the hell The Tell Tale Heart was all about.
Son, I asked (he was named after blues legend, Son House), are you reading The Tell Tale Heart in school? Yes, they had read it together in class that day. Being the über-dad that I am, I feigned interest in his schooling and asked him what he thought of the story. After about fifteen minutes of word fragments, you-know’s and um’s, I figured he didn’t comprehend much of the plot. I asked him if he was actually in the classroom when they read the story. He was there physically, but I’m guessing, mentally, he was wandering around the girls’ locker room handing out towels. Luckily, I was wearing my über-dad utility belt, which contained duct tape, a butter knife, two cans of beer, one paper towel, a golf score card, a roll of Lifesavers and the Unabridged Edgar Allan Poe. I suggested we read the story together, thinking it would be easier than me explaining the it to him, seeing that all I could remember about it were the car chases and the nude scenes.
We took turns reading paragraphs, crossing out the words neither of us knew, with me providing explanatory commentary along the way. As we delved, he became more and more stoic as I immersed myself in the story, enthralled by Poe’s dazzling imagery and effortless flow. Before long, I had a set built out of the couch and entertainment center, and I was acting out the story using the dog as the old man with the "evil eye". I may have been a little over enthusiastic with my portrayal, as the dog is now dismembered and buried underneath the house. Not to worry, we have another dog, who is more of a writer than an actor. So, she’s safe.
After my Tony Award winning performance, Son continued to wallow in Poe bewilderment. He still didn’t comprehend the gist of the story. Again, I tried to explain and retell the story to him in words he could understand. I even offered to kill the other dog. Eventually, I gave up. I don’t know, Son, let’s ask the rotted corpse of Edgar Allan Poe. It was lying on the floor next to a stuffed Sponge Bob doll. "‘Gar", I asked, "can you please explain to the boy what The Tell Tale Heart is all about?" To which he replied, "I’m not sure, I was drunk when I wrote it. In fact, I don’t even remember writing it. Do you have any cheese?"
Son and I looked at each other for a moment. Then, simultaneously, we both bust out laughing, holding each other’s spleens. "Dad," he said, wiping a jovial tear from his eye, "I guess drunk people just write weird stuff sometimes." That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you for the past two hours! The important thing is that he finally got it, and he is now a big fan of Poe. It was one of the most satisfying moments of my dadhood. A feat right up there with the time ex-Mrs. Rub left me alone with the kids for the first time and neither of them died. To celebrate, I unhooked the two cans of beer from my über-dad utility belt and let my son watch me drink them. We hung Poe on a hanger and put him in the closet, in case either of us is ever required to read The Murders in the Rue Morgue or listen to the Iron Maiden song of the same name.