The Fourth in the Seven Days of Timmy’s Snow White
The next day, Timmy had on his yellow polo shirt. It had a small dragon embroidered on its pocket and a placket at the neck buttoned with four tiny buttons that had tiny dragons on them. It had been a birthday gift last year and Timmy hadn’t liked it very much. Had hardly worn it. But this day, he was beaming and jocular. Telling knock-knock jokes, left and right. Knock knock. Who’s there? Doris. Doris who? Doris open, I’m coming in. Knock knock. Who’s there? Sez. Sez who? Sez me! Knock knock. Who’s there? Terrify. Terrify who? Terrify tissue?* After which, Timmy would rock with laughter, deep deep guffaws that were so catching that soon everyone was laughing.
*say this fast and you can kind of hear “care if I kiss you?”
It did get a little old. But as if he sensed it, Timmy switched to riddles. What’s black and white and red all over? I don’t know, what? A newspaper! What goes step step step step step thunk. I don’t know, what? A spider with a limp. What did one wall say to the other? I don’t know, what? Meet you at the corner. Timmy’s Mom was getting tired of being his straight man, but after all she thought, as she sighed for the umtee-umpth time that day, I only have keep repeating ‘I don’t know, what?’ or ‘who?’ or ‘why?’ It could be worse, she reminded herself. A lot worse!
After they had picked up Timmy’s brother from school and he was stuck in the back seat with Bad Jokes Harry, as he called him, and Timmy had run all the ones his Mom had already heard, he suddenly pulled out a new one. Who says bless you? I don’t know, who? Achoo! His brother was quick off the mark to tell Timmy he had the ‘bless you’ backwards, and called him dummy. When Timmy asked why, without fussing, his Mom shot a quick look into the back seat, but Timmy just looked seriously curious. Because, his brother told him, you only say ‘bless you’ after someone sneezes. Saying bless you first and then saying achoo was just dumb. Timmy didn’t get upset. He didn’t pout or try to smack his brother or go all quiet, like usual. He just smiled. Sweetly. He beamed. Like a headlight. Like he’d just licked up all the ice cream up in the world. Like his brother had just given him a golden gift. It made his brother so cross he repeated himself, telling Timmy that he was just a plain DUMMY. And then Timmy had said, “yeah I was, but not today.” And it was quiet for the rest of the ride home.
After that, all the jokes and the knock knocks stopped. It seemed he’d run out. But he was as bubbly and happy and full of fun as he had been when he’d gotten up that morning. Somewhere along the way he’d dug out an old yellow knit cap and he kept it on all afternoon and all the evening, pulled down over one eye part of the time. After that, he started doing mime. And he really wasn’t bad. He remembered a comic they’d seen on TV and he got up on a box behind the couch and pretended to be going downstairs, his head getting lower and lower and then disappearing, when he turned the other way and came back up. Actually, even his brother applauded that. Which made Timmy so happy he galloped around the house, neighing and snorting. Then he’d pretended he was behind glass and kept feeling for a way out. He was funny. And anyway, it was just good to see him being pleasant and not mean-minded.
After he’d come somersaulting into the living room for about the fourth time, his brother had looked over at him and asked if he wasn’t dizzy or something. Timmy’d said no, and disappeared again. “You are dopey,” his brother had said to him at one point and Timmy had stopped what he was doing and looked over at his brother and said, “No, I’m not. Told you, I was but now I’m not.” Timmy rarely could stop fooling and just make sense. Not like that. And not ever in the face of his brother’s teasing. Which he rarely took quietly these days. His brother just stared at him until Timmy jumped up on the hassock and started lecturing about the difference between dummy and dopey. His brother looked over at his Mom and Dad and they’d both shaken their heads and mouthed, a Timmy Thing.
When Timmy was upstairs and ready for bed, his Dad came up, as usual. And, Timmy asked his father if he would read Tall Ted’s Turtles to him and they’d ended up snorting and glugging giggles together. His Mom had also come up, attracted by such noisy laughter. She sat on the end of the bed to enjoy watching 2 favorite people enjoy each other and that old old story. Even Timmy’s brother crept in to sit snuggled by his Mom’s feet, and she’d kept her hand on his shoulder, even stroking his cheek - a kind of thing he shrugged away more and more as he got older. But this night, he just leaned into it and the family was together for awhile in love and laughter. Which was how they bid good night to each other. Timmy’s Mom and Dad bid each other good night, too, but then decided maybe they could share a bit of happiness and love just between the two of them.
So they did.