Faux Redhead has failed me.
Last week - the week before I went on vacation - I had to write two columns. I was concerned about this, as I hadn't seen my nephews, the Heathenish and the Hellion, for a couple weeks, and my kids are pressed to do one funny and/or adorable thing per week.
"You kids need to be adorable again this week," I told them. "Momma needs an extra column."
"What about Faux Redhead?" My Sassy Saint asked. "He wants to be in your column."
Faux Redhead is one of Sass' band friends. He also plays the trumpet and apparently was thrilled to find out I'd stuck a nickname on him.
"Does your mother love me?" he asked Sass.
I'm not indifferent to the child, since he is one of Sass' friends, but I generally stick nicknames on people because I am terrible at remembering names. Also, because I'm trying to protect the guilty and not reveal their identities. (Sadly, referring to my father as Grampy Grumpy didn't hide his identity and the cousins promptly tortured him.)
"I don't know," I told Sass. "Can Faux Redhead do adorable?"
"Hmm. I don't know about adorable. He's pretty much a normal teenager. What about funny?"
"OK, if he can do something funny, then I'll put him in my column, but he shouldn't do anything stupid that will get him hurt. I don't need that."
"I'll tell him at practice. He really wants to be in your column."
The band had been practicing in preparation of the city's Fourth of July parade. Apparently the formula is 10 hours of practice for every hour spent marching in a parade.
"But what if the woodwinds do something adorable?" asked The Little Professor.
"Like that would happen."
I'm not 100 percent sure of the details, but the woodwind and the brass sections of the band are locked in a struggle to the death, while the poor drummers and flag kids mill around on the sidelines, wondering what all the fuss is about. Or maybe it's a friendly rivalry? My version is more interesting.
So when I picked Sass up after practice, I asked whether Faux Redhead had come through and gave me fodder for my column.
"Not today," she said. "He's a section leader this year, and he has to be responsible and set a good example for the younger kids."
"That's not good for my column. Did anyone else do something funny or adorable? If you don't think he can come through, then I can call your auntie."
"No, give him a chance. He really wants to do it." She paused. "I told him not to do anything stupid that would get him hurt and he just laughed."
"Well, that's not ominous or anything." The last thing I needed was for the kid to hurt himself. Not only would that be bad for the kid, but Sass would be furious. She's very protective of her friends.
So every day, I asked her if he'd been adorable, and, every day, she told me he was too busy trying to teach the little kids to march in a straight line and play their instruments without tripping. (This actually is a danger, and the Little Professor can attest to it.)
Finally, he ran out of time. The woodwinds didn't do anything cute either; I asked. (I was desperate and I hold no enmity toward the woodwinds since my sister Foo-Dog once played the clarinet.)
"What are we going to do?" I asked the kids.
"Well ... he said something about decorating his instrument with firecrackers, but the Band Director told him no," Sass said.
"I really hope he doesn't do that. Besides, I need to have this column finished today, so if he blows his instrument up tomorrow, it will all be for naught. I'll have to call your Aunt Foo-Dog and see what the Heathenish and the Hellion are doing."
Sass bit her lip and furrowed her brow. I suppose she felt somewhat responsible, since she hadn't done anything adorable, either.
"I know!" she said. "Do a column on how he failed to do anything adorable for your column!"
Hey, I was desperate.
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)