Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Loud Equals Right

If you challenge something I say, you can probably expect me to yell. I first equated “loud” with “right” when I was about ten years old. I was with riding with my Dad in the car, discussing what we’d seen on our trip to a marine animal park the summer before.

"Dolphins don't have teeth," said my Dad, "they have kind of a beak."

"Nuh Uh! They do so have teeth," I said from the back seat of the car. "I read it in a book somewhere. They’re not fish, they’re mammals like us. They breathe air." I gave a little nod, then. I could see the page from the book in my head.

Dad got a little louder. "I know they breathe air. I’m not stupid," he said, looking quickly at me in the rear-view mirror. "But I’ve seen them, and they don’t have teeth. They just grab a fish with their jaws and swallow—"

"You’re wrong!" I said, louder yet this time and leaning toward him.

There was a pause then. I watched the neighbors' yards go by, waiting to feel the car turn and stop under the droopy willow next to the garage. My dad drove past our house! He sucked in a big breath, red in the face, and I figured I had gone too far.

"Listen to you!" he finally bellowed. "What book did you see it in?"

I looked down, my face hot. "I don’t remember, Dad." I wondered if he knew the house was back there.

"Hah!" he said, "you don’t know."

"Yes I do!" I yelled, even louder than him. "I don’t know what book it was but it was a picture of a dolphin smiling and there was a little circle at the edge of the dolphin’s mouth. The little circle was connected to a bigger circle over to the side and the bigger circle had a close up in it with a bunch of LITTLE POINTY TEETH!" I yelled that last part so loud that the seat in front of me had spit dots on it.

Yelling at my dad usually meant he would yell at me a lot more. I didn’t care. I was right!

"Well," said my dad after a minute, "I guess I’m not really sure they don’t have teeth." He pulled into a driveway and backed out, going home. He didn't say anything else. I was stunned. He wasn’t mad anymore. I didn’t get grounded or anything. I won.

I really did know dolphins had teeth, but I won because I was loud. So, I end up wanting to yell whenever somebody challenges my ideas. Thirty-Something me knows this is silly. But ten-year-old me sneaks onto the controls once in a while, and boy, when that happens, look out!

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