I Kid You Not

Psst! It's me again. Burkett's four-year-old, Matthew. Hold the cheers and applause. Dad thinks I'm playing "Super Mario Brothers" on his computer. He doesn't know that I've dumped the usual load of bilge he planned to run this week to give you the real, behind-the-scenes lowdown on that "Name-the-Baby Sweepstakes" scheme he cooked up three weeks ago.

It's all a big hoax. There is no baby to name.
Oh, they had me fooled for a while there, too. About seven months ago, they sat me down and asked how I'd like a little brother or sister. I sez, "Compared to what?"

"No, really," they say. "We're gonna have a new baby in the family." And they're smiling when they make this announcement, like I'm supposed to think it's terrific news that I'll be losin' half my room, getting half as many toys for Christmas, and havin' to whine twice as loud to get any attention. Rejoice, rejoice.

"So when does this new kid get here?" I ask.
"Oh, not for quite a while yet."
Ever notice how hard it is to nail grown-ups down on specifics?

"Wead my wips," I say (they think it's soooo cute when I drop my l's). "Gimme an exact date."

"After Christmas."
That was hardly an exact date, but it was good news. At least I'd make one more merchandise haul before the competition showed up.

So for the next couple of months, wherever we go, Mom and Dad keep making a big humongous deal about my alleged sibling, dragging me up to strangers and saying in a dumb sing- songy voice, "Matthew, tell the nice man/lady/kid/creep-o what we're going to have in our family."

I'm thinking, "A runaway, if this keeps up much longer." But I keep my mouth shut and endure the humiliation. What choice do I have?

Anyway, Christmas comes, Christmas goes, and still no baby. What's the deal, here?

"We've still got a couple of months to wait!"
Oh. Stall tactics, eh? I was starting to catch on.
"Yeah, Mom. Riiiiight. Say, where's this kid right now?"

"In Mommy's tummy," she answers with a remarkably straight face. Instead of laughing derisively (lately Mom's been very sensitive about her sudden and spectacular weight gain), I decide it's in my best interests to play along with the gag.

"In your tummy, huh? Gee, how'd it get in there?"
"Well, um, ahhh, errr . . . "
I could tell she was about to make up something really nutty.
" . . . um, God put the baby in my tummy!"

God? The same guy who ended up with my dead goldfish? C'mon, Mom! You can do better than that! If God had dropped by to put a baby in your stomach--which, frankly, conjures up a pretty revolting image--He certainly would have returned my goldfish while He was in the area.

Thus far, as you can see, all of this baby talk has been just that: talk. Not once have I been shown any hard evidence that my brother or sister is anything more than a figment of my folks' fevered imaginations. And no, I haven't forgotten about the day Mom came home from the doctor with a "video sonogram."

"Matthew!" she says. "How would you like to see a movie of our new baby?"
Oooooh-kayyyyy. Proof at last!
Mom slips the tape into the VCR . . . the picture comes up on the screen . . . and what do I see? Who knows?!?! It could be anything. My guess is that it's an out-of-focus black-and-white close-up of a washing-machine window during the rinse cycle.

"Look!" Mom exclaims. "There's the baby! There's your little brother or sister!"

Whoop-dee-doo. I'm gonna be sharing my room with a bouncing bundle of wet laundry. Break out the party hats and the noisemakers.

"See those two little black spots?" Mom asks, pointing at what looks to me like a pair of dirty socks. "Those are the baby's kidneys!"

Yeah. Sure. I can't even make out a head in this low-budget video Rorschach test, and she thinks she can see kidneys! This woman needs a vacation. Bad.

What I can't figure out is whether Mom actually believes what she's saying, or if she's been duped by some quack who takes home movies of his washing machine and peddles them to women who believe whatever cockamamie thing they're told.

I can just imagine the sales pitch: "And from this angle, Mrs. Burkett, you can see two tiny black areas. Those are . . . um . . . uhhh . . . kidneys! Yeah! Kidneys! In fact, they're Morgan Fairchild's kidneys! Yeah! That's the ticket! Now, will that be cash, check or credit card?"

There's a sucker born every minute. But no matter what Dad says, none are scheduled for delivery in my house. We've already met our quota.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew C. Burkett

Latest Stories