A Barrel of Laughs? No, Just a Barrel.

Posted on July 5, 2011


My son, Optimist Prime, turned ten years old on Sunday.  (Read his birthday tribute post: The Most Positive Child in the World.) When my wife asked him what he wanted for his birthday he answered, “A barrel!”

This has been a recurring joke in our family from the time we were eating at a local German restaurant and I spotted a barrel among a collection of furniture and junk which appeared to be on the way out.  I felt destined to have that barrel.  First I asked a waiter and then his manager if I could have it and was rebuffed.  I asked if I could buy it and was told the barrel was not for sale.  This surprised me because every barrel must have its price.  Next I sent The Fonz to tell the manager it was his birthday and more than anything in the world he wanted a barrel because his dad had promised him a barrel on his last birthday but died on the way to the barrel store.  Then he lowered his eyes to the floor and began to sniffle.  The manager pointed at me across the room and said to The Fonz, “Isn’t that your dad over there?  The guy covering his face with a napkin and shaking his head?”  This manager was a smarter adversary than we had anticipated.

Barrels can also be used for storing things.

Still unmoved by The Fonz’s Oscar worthy performance, the manager left me no choice but to use the children to create a diversion while I stole the barrel.  The kids and I began a discussion of the pros and cons of stealing the barrel right then or breaking into the restaurant after hours.  At this point my wife put her foot down and insisted it was time to go home.  Actually she had been trying to put her foot down all evening by insisting she would never allow that barrel or any other barrel in our house.

Now my sons know one of the few ways they can tease Mom and get a rise from her is with barrel-related humor.  They ask for barrels for birthdays and Christmas.  They ask if they can use her computer to look at barrels on Amazon.  “Nobody in this house is getting a barrel!” she answers.  “The next person to talk about barrels is going to bed early!”

When my wife is in the other room and I know she can hear us, the three of us list all the benefits of having a barrel.

Optimist Prime: “A barrel would really classen this place up.  Our friends will come in and be like, ‘Is that a barrel in the corner?  Wow!  I wish my house had a barrel.  You guys must be rich.  Can I have my picture taken with the barrel?”

The Fonz: “All our friends will say, ‘Should we go to Evan’s house?  He’s got an Xbox 360,’ and another friend will say, ‘So what?  I heard Optimist Prime and The Fonz have got a barrel!'”

Me: “A barrel looks classy, but don’t forget its versatility.  We could put a lamp or magazines on top.  Or just a lamp.  Or just magazines.  Or books instead of magazines.  The magazines and books could be about all sorts of topics, including barrels.  You take the lamp and/or magazines off and place a tiny tablecloth over the top and you’ve got a tiny barrel table for two.  If you’re watching TV but don’t feel like sitting or standing, a barrel is perfect for leaning against.  If zombies start breaking down the door, guess which piece of furniture is the easiest to quickly roll over and use as a barricade?”

The Fonz: “A couch?”

Optimist Prime: “A barrel!”

The Fonz: “A barrel!”

Me: “And you can put stuff in the barrel, like snacks.”

Optimist Prime: “Or money.”

The Fonz: “And money can be used to buy snacks.”

This is when my wife enters and throws pillows at everyone.

Wife: “Nobody’s getting a barrel!  Everybody go to bed!”

Me: “Even me?  What did I do?”

The Fonz: “I’m scared to go to bed.  Dad’s been talking about zombies breaking down the door.”

Optimist Prime: “I wouldn’t be scared to go to sleep if I knew we had a barrel down here keeping us safe.”

Although he begged for a barrel, I think he was relieved not to get one because it would have deprived him of another year’s worth of barrel humor.

Posted in: Family