I posted earlier that a thunderstorm passed over the valley this morning, and at lunch I was telling Tyrant about Leta’s reaction to the menacing sounds. Some kids will never see snow in their lives, or when they do it will be such an extraordinary experience that they will exhibit the look that Leta had on her face this morning when she heard thunder, the one a college kid has when he buys bad weed from his roommate and suddenly his goldfish starts talking to him in Spanish.
HOLA, AMIGO. ¿Dónde está la biblioteca?
Thunderstorms just don’t happen with any frequency here in the valley, meaning hardly ever. At first Leta expressed horror, and I was busy getting the car ready to back out of the driveway. So I explained thunder in an absentminded, stream of consciousness kind of way: “It’s like, when two air masses of different temperatures come together—”
“THAT’S HOW A TORNADO HAPPENS!” she yelled from the backseat. Why, yes. That is exactly how I explained tornados to her. Nice save, Sherlock.
“Wait!” I said as I stopped the car halfway out of the garage. “Lightning! Thunder is the sound lightning makes.” And then I thought maybe I should tell her that lightning is made out of milk chocolate to soften the blow, but she’s old enough to understand basic science. SHIT.
“Lightning doesn’t make a sound,” she said as if I didn’t graduate college with honors.
“Yes, it does,” I began to explain. “But light travels faster than sound, so you see lightning before you hear it.” Unless, of course, it’s striking the top of your head, but I didn’t say that out loud! PHEW! Brain cells to spare! DRINKS ARE ON ME TONIGHT!
She sat with that for a second, and it’s when I pulled onto the street that she said, “That really needs to happen more often.”
She decided lightning and thunder are cool. And I didn’t even have to build a bomb shelter stocked with root beer floats and episodes of iCarly.
I told this story at lunch when suddenly Tyrant finished chewing a bite of salad and shook his head. “So you lied to her?”
“What do you mean I lied to her?” I asked.
“Thunder is when two clouds run into each other. You know, BOOM.” And he clapped his hands together loudly not two inches from my face as if BOOM is not an onomatopoeia.
I looked directly at him and then pulled the collar of my shirt over my face to emphasize the fact that I was laughing so hard.
“Whatever.” He waved his hand, yanked out his phone and immediately googled something that pulled up a Yahoo! answers page. “Let me read you some of these… wait… ‘It comes from the sky.’ WELL, NO SHIT. Wait, give me a second… wait… here… ‘The sound that happens when two clouds crash into each other.’ See? Someone agrees with me.”
“Let me guess. His username is SHITFORBRAINZ?”
“Well, it took you a few attempts to explain it correctly to her.”
He’s right. It did. And I have no excuse other than sometimes the science I learned 25 years ago is lodged in the part of my brain that is now getting pinched by the lobe that is full of the names of Angelina Jolie’s children and the latitude and longitude of where each of them was born.