THIS IS HOW I SORT OF KEEP ALIVE (A FEW MOMENTS OF CONVERSATION WITH OUR SON).*

Hey DSLR Man!
he yelled as we exited the vehicle.

I turned.
You talking to me?

Yeah.
he said.
I call you DSLR Man because you always have a DSLR camera.

Oh.
I said.
That's not the worst nickname I've had.

Yeah.
he said.
When bulldozers are scooping up a bunch of dirt, like when they're making a skate park, do they scoop up thousands of ants and then do the ants die?

That,
I said.
Is a sad question. And a good one. I have never thought about it, but I imagine that ants probably are casualties of human construction and development.

Oh.
he said.
Does that mean they die?

I nodded.



He strapped on his helmet, and gazed out over the vast concrete expanse of park; delicious and curvy, waiting to be ridden hard. He looked over at me as he edged his bicycle to the precipice of the first drop.

It's okay if I fall,
he explained, patting his helmet.
I have a head protector.

I am not super excited about you going down that one yet,
I said, tugging him back from the edge, ungingerly removing him from his bike, and carefully lowering it down in the pit.

Well,
he said.
I like skate parks, but I still prefer STATE parks, because there you can go hiking and I like hiking.

Yeah.
I said.
Hiking is cool.

Daddy?
he said.

Yeah?
I said.

Did you ever smoke cigarettes when you were a teenager?

I thought carefully,
far back to long, long ago when I was a teenager, and thought of a very specific moment when I thought to myself: what if I have a kid someday who asks me if I smoked when I was a kid, and what do I want to be able to say? And that thought of the future drove some decisions at that point in my life.

I said:
No.

Oh.
he said.
Do a lot of teenagers smoke?

Umm...
I said.
Some do. I wouldn't say that most do. But some of them do, and it makes me sad for them because it can be very difficult to stop once you start.

Yeah.
he said.
And it can make it hard for your lungs to breathe, right?

Yep.
I said,
as he zoomed off around the concrete swirls and sloped sides, crashing every ninety seconds or so, circling back around to pitch existential queries at me.

Is it possible,
he asked.
to make something invisible?

Well,
I thought carefully.
Theoretically, it is within the bounds of possibility. Do you ever read Wired Magazine?

No,
he said.
I don't know what that is, and besides I can't really read yet.

Right.
I said.
But you're getting really good at the alphabet. As far as invisibility goes, the idea of an actual human walking around invisible is something that would be very difficult to do. Does that sort of make sense?

Sort of.
he said.
Not really.

Well,
I said.
Basically, it would be a lot easier to make say, a lamp invisible than a human being.

Oh.
he said.
Why?

Uhh,
(I fumbled briefly, for reasons having little** to do with my understanding of the relationship between molecular biology, sub atomic particle physics and chemistry, and the light spectrum.)
Basically, everything is made up of atoms, right? Remember talking about that?

Yeah.
he said.

Well, atoms are what make up everything around us, like the oxygen we breathe, and water, and gold and stuff like that. They're super small. And cells, which is what our bodies are composed of, have atoms as well. So -

Okay,
he said.
So there are invisible lamps?

No...
I said.
Theoretically, my point was that it's possible, and much easier to make something non-organic invisible.

But why would you make something organic invisible?
he asked.
Because if it's organic, it's good for you, isn't it?

Uhh...
I thought.
Yes, but in this case I'm simply talking about organic being -

- Okay,
he said.
I don't super understand, but, you know what's funny?

I have no idea.
I said untruthfully.

I didn't super used to like pasta,
he said, zipping past unsteadily.
But now I'm addicted to it.

You're what?
I asked.

He zoomed back around, tires wobbling, and I secretly reminded myself to not take him cycling on that one mountain road in Bolivia.
I SAID,
he said,
that I'm addicted to pasta now.

Oh.
I said.
I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to. There's probably also even better things to be addicted to, like water.

Yeah,
he said.
I like water, but I don't super like it. I mostly am just addicted to pasta.

Be careful!
I yelled as he careened up the side, watching him daydream his way through the park.

Why?!
(he yelled back, blindly pedaling ahead toward concrete, and for a second time I reminded myself to delay the Bolivian biking trip.)
Why should I be careful?!

Because,
(I yelled back, hoping that his skull and helmet would withstand what was sure to be imminent impact with concrete)
I sort of like you!

He whipped his two-wheeler around with a poise and effortless skill I had previously only identified with Steve McQueen in The Great Escape, and came screaming, skidding past me.

WHAT DID YOU SAY?!
he yelped, as he glid past.
DID YOU JUST SAY 'I SORT OF LIKE YOU'!?

Yeah.
I said.

He came circling back.
Really? Did you really say that? You "sort of like me?" Aren't you supposed to love me?

Yeah.
I said.
I sort of love you too.

REALLY?! Really?!
he sigh-screamed, whipping past again. You 'sort of love me?!'

Yeah.
I said.
I guess I do.

Oh.
he said.
There was a boy and I asked him his name and he said his name was Isaac and I said "oh, you mean like Isaac Newton?" I was just joking.

Hmm.
I said.
That's sort of funny.

We walked back to our automobile in silence, aside from talking the whole way, without major skull injuries and the tiniest of blood trails. Another successful day of extreme sports. And more importantly, extreme conversation that is the norm, which I guess would make it mundane conversation. Vive les dialogues!
____

*composited, compressed, interpreted
**everything