There are critical moments in every young man's life (or so I have heard) when he must make pivotal decisions regarding his future and the destiny he will take. These decisions, from what I hear, are the ones that could make or break him forever.
Andrew had one of these moments on Sunday.
It happened this way.
Andrew had finally decided to make his debut into cyberspace by doing something that must be done by every American teen who lives in the 21st century: namely, to get an email address.
Now as everyone knows, deciding on an email address is one of the most significant decisions in a person's life. Or at least Andrew seemed to think so.
Andrew's first choice, after a great deal of deliberation, and for whatever reason, was 'agent andrew'. When he got online to complete the formalities, however, he discovered that some evil individual had made this impossible by stealing the name at a time unknown in the past.
After several disparaging remarks on the character of this egregious individual, Andrew tried again, adding various numbers and periods to his chosen combination. Everything he tried had been taken already.
After several successive failures in embellishing 'agent andrew', the agent himself gave up. We had company all afternoon, but, after they had left, Andrew (being the tough guy that he is) once again mounted the stairs to Abigail's room to try again.
He began by evicting myself and Abigail from the laptop and trying all the morning's combinations again, in spite of my wise suggestions to the contrary. He said that he was hoping that the owner of 'agent andrew' had died during the course of the day. I tried to explain that even if that did happen, nothing would change, but Andrew is not known for his pliability, so I had to wait and watch him fail yet again.
Andrew is not known for his perseverance either, so, within a few minutes, I was the reigning monarch of the laptop once again and Andrew was sitting on the floor with his head between his knees, brainstorming on how to combat a computer who continually threw his ideas back at him.
Now at this point, we were all suffering from the lull that homeschoolers traditionally feel after visitors have left. For those of you who are not familiar with this phenomenon, it's a sort of chronic emptiness that occurs when a person realizes that they are alone with their family for the first time in some hours and there's nothing they can do about it. It's something of a combination between loneliness and boredom, an after-company low.
Now one of the symptoms of this disease (from now on known as lonedom) is that sufferers will naturally gravitate toward locations where the most human beings can be found. Therefore, since there were already three people in Abigail's room, Dad, in perfect scientific fashion, soon made his way up the stairs to join us.
After looking over my shoulder to be sure that my behavior on the computer was appropriate (and satisfying himself that my activity of editing photos was innocent enough) , he settled down on the floor, crossed his legs like an Indian, and set himself to solving Andrew's dilemma.
Now, among the laws of nature somewhere, there is an irrevocable law that states that mothers will naturally gravitate toward any place where advice is being given. Therefore, Mom joined us in minutes to express her opinion. The little boys followed her.
At that moment, the brainstorming began.
It was a riot. For those of you who have never heard the Greeks brainstorm, it is a regular circus of ideas and chaos. It's something like playing tennis with a wall. You throw the ball. It bounces back, rejected, and you hit it over again. And again. And again. One day, if you're very lucky, the wall will crack and your ball will sail through the hole to glory.
This doesn't happen very often, but Greeks, while not known for their perseverance, are not exactly thought of as slackers, either. So ideas were hurled at Andrew as though he were a wall.
Dad: "Sarah has a Latin word for her email address. Maybe you could do something Latin."
Mom: "I still like my 'reach for the stars' idea."
Dad: "Sarah? Any suggestions?"
Me: (unable to resist the opportunity to show off) "If he wants Latin, 'ad astra' means 'to the stars' in Latin."
Andrew: "That's kinda cool."
Me: (horrified and regretting my hasty words) "No it isn't! I really like that word, and I think of it as mine. It means alot to me. It doesn't fit you, anyway. You can't have it."
Andrew: "Alright then. Never mind."
Me: (sarcastically) "Wait! Did you just follow a suggestion of mine? Did I hear that right? Andrew! You just followed my advice? Wow. This a first. This is amazing! I'm going to savor this moment forever."
Mom: "Your friend David has 'noble youth'. Why don't you do something like that? Something inspirational. Something that demonstrates high standards."
Andrew: "No. That's one of those age-appropriate ones. Just wait a couple years. He'll have to change it to 'noble senior'.I need one that will last me forever."
Family: groans and laughs
Dad: "Andrew, do you realize that your email address does not define you as a person? It's not a big deal."
Andrew: "Yes it does! And it is a big deal. I want an 'agent' email address."
Dad: "Why does it have to have agent in it, again?"
Andrew: "Because agents are cool."
Dad: "Travel agents weren't cool in my day."
Abigail: "Why are we doing this in my room?"
And so it went. On and on and on. The ideas, like balls, bounced back at the throwers and struck them in the face.
There comes a time, I would think (though I do not speak from experience), when a person is trying to crack a wall with a ball, that the person would inevitably tire of throwing tennis balls and begin to try something else.
This happened to the Greeks. When Andrew failed to accept logical ideas, and as the night grew later, logical ideas were naturally replaced with their more illogical counterparts.
"That's for a little boy with low self-esteem."
Abigail: "Did no one hear me? Can we please move down to the living room?"
Dad: "Your room is beautiful, Abigail. We all like it here."
Andrew: "No, it's too girly! No wonder I can't think."
The barrage continued.
"That makes it sound like I have a home improvement show on TV."
"Alright then! 'Angry Andrew'?"
"Then people would ask me to sign up for their anger management program."
"You like motorcycles. How about 'motorcycle man'?"
"That's for old hippy men with long beards."
"Abigail has 'my cup overfloweth'. How about 'my stomach overfloweth'?
'Come on! I don't eat that much!"
"I'm not a fat blue monster."
"Why don't you combine a Latin word with something about baseball?"
Me: (sarcastically) "Of course! I'm trying to remember what Julius Caesar always used to say when it was his turn to bat. Hmmm...."
"You lift weights. How about 'muscle man'?"
"That makes it sound like I take steroids. I don't."
All this time, Andrew was still sitting with his head between his knees, looking for all the world as if he were posing for an anti-depressant commercial. Dad and Mom were also in various comfortable positions on the floor or reclining on Abigail's bed, while the little boys switched back and forth between them. I remained at the computer, diligently editing pictures and laughing at my ridiculous family. Abigail had resigned herself to the fact that no one would be leaving any time soon and was peering over my shoulder.
Mom: "Why do you want an email address anyway?"
Dad: "He wants be able to chat with his sisters on gtalk."
Andrew: "No, that's not the reason. I can go to their rooms to chat with them!"
At this point, Jacob came into the room. He was the only one who had been missing from this family conference.
"I finished all my schoolwork for tomorrow", he announced proudly.
There was a general groan as everyone realized the time they had wasted. Mom escorted the little boys to their bedroom across the hall.
Dad got up from the floor, and Andrew hauled himself out of his lethargy and dragged himself down to his room.
The critical moment of Andrew's existence had ended in indecision.
The next morning - Breaking News - Andrew has FINALLY decided on an email that halfway pleases him! He has also managed to secure it before it could be stolen by a rival. Welcome to cyberspace, Andrew! cheers
Photo complements of Michael Claude.