The Question of Orphanhood

If pity you can feel,
forgo your cruel employ.
Have pity on my lonely state:
I am an orphan boy!

—W.S. Gilbert
lame old pirate operetta

Peace and joy, Camper.

Young persons have wonderful questions; don’t listen to your parents on this. What do they know? Parents are impressed with you only when you’re a baby.

“Oh, would you listen at that? She just said ‘euphemism!’ Harold, come here! Tasha just said ‘euphemism!’ Harold! Get your mother on the phone.”

When you’re older and have something serious to discuss, parents are just not that good.

“Why does America have a bicameral legislature??? Now you listen here, young man. America may not be perfect, but you’d best be grateful to live here at all, instead of some place like . . . like France, where they don’t even have a legislature!”

But since they’re confused by everything you say, the best question to ask your mother or father is some version of the classic trio:

· who were my real parents?

· why does that woman keep calling for Dad?

· nothing bad happens when you put water in the gas tank, does it?

Your Uncle Jerry was an adopted child; that's why he has what the nice doctor calls “abandonment issues.”

Abandonment can excuse a multitude of issues—such as that prison-style tattoo you got in eighth grade and still haven’t showed your mom. When she confronts you at the swimming pool, you just say, “I needed to find out if you really love me—and you've answered my question.”

Chapter Four

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