Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Boys enjoy sticks. That’s my official unscientific, non-governmental grant approved conclusion. After years and years and years of observing boys in their natural habitat, just like that “Gorillas in the Mist” lady did with those mountain gorillas, I am prepared to report that boys and sticks go together like gorillas and mist.

From my field notes: Tried to mow the yard today. Had to stop every three and a half feet to pick up large, sharp tipped sticks approximately one foot long to twelve and half feet in length. I realized that these sticks did not arrive in the middle of the yard by themselves. The sticks were dragged, hurled, slung, and dropped by human boys as they roamed through the mists.

A boy will pick up a stick before he will bathe, wash, brush, or comb. 

A stick can never be sharp enough for boys.

Opening the microwave oven to discover a pile of random sticks inside is evidence that boys are near and possibly foraging for food.

My husband, who is a boy, cheerfully handed pocketknives to two junior members of our gorilla troop, Zac and Kip, showing them how to sharpen already pointy sticks to a state of hypodermic needle sharpness. Their faces were incandescent with stick whittling joy.

My husband, the Poppy, said, “Whittle, boys. Whittle.”

Conner, their older brother, a sensible boy who talks like a forty-five year old man, looked on—horrified—as his little brothers chopped and chipped away. Bits of stick exploded into sawdust. 

Looking at me, Conner said, “I see what you mean about Poppy. He is a fool and a clown.”

Surprised, I said, “I don’t remember ever calling him a clown.”

Whittling is not exclusive to juvenile members of the troop. Older, mature males of the troop will sit chopping at wood with sharp objects, showing off their tool making abilities. Unfortunately, the stick whittling never seems to result in anything resembling a tool, just naked sticks. Naked sticks that they leave at my house, inside, tucked away in corners and closets. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with a pile of naked, whittled on sticks. They don’t fit in the microwave. 

Boys also like stones. Florida is not known for its rocks or stones. There aren’t any. So, the boys in our family enjoy peeling up the concrete stepping stones of my garden walkway. It makes me want to hit them with sticks.

But I don’t, because I’m not a clown and a fool—well, not today.

Linda (Stick, Stick, Goose) Zern 

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