Karen and her kids, Emily and Patrick, have come down for dinner. Karen and Emily sit down to keep me company while I finish cooking, and the boys head into the living room and the PS3. Patrick, 12, is the last boy to leave the kitchen.
“Hey Patrick,” I say, “don’t pee on my couch, OK?”
“Please try not to pee on the couch?”
“Miss Katie, why would I pee on the couch?” The boy is understandably perplexed. I’ve known him since he was a year old, and he’s never peed on anything in my house.
“I have no idea,” I tell him now, “but the bathroom is right there if you need it, OK?”
“But…why….. Why would I pee on your couch?
“I don’t know.” I say. ” But just don’t, ok?”
His head cocked to the side and his eyebrows knitted, Patrick heads into the living room while Karen grins at me, shaking her head slowly from side to side.
In a moment Patrick returns.
“When did I pee on your couch?” Patrick demands of me.
“I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?”
Through a fit of giggles, Emily shouts at her younger brother, “JUST DON’T PEE ON THE COUCH, Patrick!”
“No, wait. ” I put up my hand to forestall another outburst from Emily. “He was about to tell us when he peed on the couch.”
“I DIDN’T PEE ON THE COUCH!” Patrick exclaims.
“OK. If you say so, I believe you.”
“I didn’t.” He insists.
“That’s great! And I really appreciate that.”
“So…why are you telling me not to pee on the couch?”
“Because it’s a leather couch, and once that smell gets into it, there is just no getting it out. I don’t want to have to replace the couch. It’s expensive.”
“But… why do you think I’m going to pee on the couch?”
“Patrick,” Karen puts up a hand to stop her son’s questions, and with each word clearly articulated says, “just do not pee on that couch. “
“But, why would—“
“Just don’t!” Karen orders.
As Patrick leaves the kitchen, Karen, Emily and I double over in silent laughter. Each of us knows what will happen next, and almost immediately, it does.
Matt bursts into the kitchen, “Why did you tell Patrick not to pee on the couch?”
“Because I don’t want him to pee on the couch,” I explain.
“No one should pee on the couch,” adds Karen.
“When did he pee on the couch?!” Matt demands.
“We didn’t say he did. We just don’t want him to pee on the couch.”
“You shouldn’t be peeing on the couch, either.” Karen informs Matt.
“I’m not going to pee on the couch,” says Matt.
“I hope not…..” But Karen sounds dubious.
“I’ve never peed on the couch!” Insists Matt.
“You sure? ” I ask him, “You haven’t? “
“WHY WOULD I PEE ON THE COUCH?”
“We don’t know.”
And then suddenly the kitchen is full of boys, all talking at once, all insisting that they have NEVER peed on my couch or any other couch, anywhere. Ever.
“And no one said you did!” I explain, “And we want you to keep up the good work.”
Karen sums it up for them, “Don’t pee on the couch. It should go without saying. Now, we’ll call you when it’s time to eat.”
Muttering and confused, indignant and questioning each others’ urinary histories, the boys leave the kitchen to return to their game.
“And don’t pee on the chairs, either! ” Emily calls out.
Really, how do people amuse themselves when they don’t have children?