The children were having an argument in the backseat.
This, in and of itself, was not surprising. The children frequently argue. I vaguely remember a time in the dim past during which they got along and didn't argue. I think that was when the Little Professor was 4 or 5 and had not yet discovered his deep reserves of stubbornness. In all fairness, the Sainted Child can be rather bossy; she's older, you see, and therefore wiser. Two and a half years wiser, anyway.
I can't really remember what my siblings and I argued over, but my sister, Foo-Dog, and I used to share a room, and I imagine we argued over my mess (she's the Felix to my Oscar).
And, honestly, we didn't so much argue with our brother, Davy Crockett, as we tortured him. He was the youngest and a boy, so we ganged up on him. He eventually got bigger than us - much bigger, as DC tops out around 6-foot 5-inches and weighs well over 200 pounds, but my mother's mantra of "behave like a gentleman; gentlemen don't hit girls," saved us from what was likely several well-deserved scraps.
I am not sure who told the children about the time we accidentally pushed DC into a pond and, not able to swim, he almost drowned. (We did not take the "not being able to swim" part into account.) This is extremely unfortunate, because, not only did we almost drown him, but whenever I try telling the children they should appreciate their sibling (since they won't ever, ever, ever have another, no matter how many times they request a sibling of their own gender to tip the power balance in their favor) and not argue with one another, they invariably reply with "remember when you almost drowned Uncle Davy?"
Well, sometimes, they say "remember that time you stabbed Uncle Davy with a fork?" However, they are a little more understanding of this incident, since, as they say, they have had some of Grandmama's pancakes and understood my motivation.
I would tell you the full story behind these incidents and prove I'm not the monster these scraps of information paint me, but I'm afraid DC will forget he's a gentleman and come back up from Kentucky.
Anyway, the children were arguing in the backseat. This usually begins with one of them making an empirical statement about some obscure bit of historical or scientific trivia, and the other refuting it with the smart kids' version of "nuh-uh!" It's like listening to a couple of academics debate an obscure point, only with "shut up," "no, you shut up" thrown in.
On this particular day, it was Spiro Agnew. I didn't know too much about Spiro Agnew, except he had an interesting-sounding name and a connection with Richard Nixon, which made me regard him as potentially shady. I was about to get an earful.
The debate raged over what state Agnew had governed and over whether he resigned his vice presidency because Nixon got the boot or whether he'd been up to his own shadiness. Since he was a politician, I was of the opinion either one was a good bet.
"Momma, tell him Spiro Agnew resigned because of Watergate," the Sainted Child said.
"No, he didn't," the Professor insisted. "He resigned before Watergate."
I was not about to referee this debate. Besides, I hadn't even known he was vice president, and I wasn't about to reveal this weakness to them. I had a hard enough time convincing them that mother knows best. (Just an FYI - neither were right. It was after Watergate, but before Nixon's resignation, and, yes, I did have to look that up.)
"Um. We will just have to look that up when we get home."
"But I'm right," the Professor insisted.
One of his areas of specialty is American history and presidential history in particular. Recently, his Boy Scout leader attempted to stump him, and he impressed the other scouts with his presidential knowledge. (That's the sort of stuff that impresses Boy Scouts. That, and tying knots.)
"You guys had better stop fighting," I said. "You only have one sibling and should appreciate one another."
Silence from the backseat for a minute. Had the lesson finally sunk in?
"Hey, Momma," the Sainted Child said. "Remember when you tried to drown Uncle Davy?"
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)