- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 14, 2008

A recent news report said that mothers today are more likely to sing their babes to sleep with a modern pop song than a traditional lullaby.

I can believe that. About 30 seconds into James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful,” I’m yawning and looking for my blankey.

It kind of makes sense that moms would use modern songs, because nowadays who can relate to any of those old lullabies?

“Rock-a-bye, baby/In the tree top.” Why is there a baby in a cradle at the top of a tree? Who put that there? Has someone called Child Protective Services?

“Sleep, baby, sleep/Your father tends the sheep.” Are you telling me that my dad’s a shepherd? Is that a growth profession? In this economy? Are you kidding me?

“Twinkle, twinkle, little star/How I wonder what you are.” I know what you are — a large ball of hydrogen being compressed by gravity and undergoing nuclear fusion. Next!

“Hush, little baby, don’t say a word/Papa’s gonna buy you a mockingbird.” Yo, Einstein! I’m a freakin’ baby here! I ain’t gonna say a word ‘cause I’m a freakin’ baby, you meathead! Alls I can do is cry. And why is my pop gonna buy me a freakin’ mockingbird? Does he think I’m gonna play with it? Or even feed it? I’m just a freakin’ baby, for crying out loud!

•••

My 20-year-old daughter just discovered that she is an old lady.

She went to see that teenage vampire movie “Twilight” but chose a time and theater that catered almost exclusively to tweens.

I quote from her e-mail to me: “The theatre was packed with squealing thirteen year olds who insisted on talking and texting during the ENTIRE film. They laughed at sensual/serious moments, they giggled and peed their pants everytime Robert Pattinson entered a scene!

“I seriously (and I’m only somewhat ashamed of myself for having to do this) leaned over the seats in front of me to the pack of middle schoolers loudly chatting in front of me and said, ‘Shut up or get out, you twelve-year-olds!’ They cried. …

“I left thinking, ‘Parents need to teach their children how to behave at a movie theatre.’”

Later that week, she told me again about her movie-going experience.

“I paid $10.50 to see that movie. Is it too much to ask for a little peace and quiet so I can hear the movie too?” she told me, her dander rising.

“You know,” I told her, “that’s what old people say.”

She looked at me somberly and held back a tear. “I know, I know” she whispered. “I’m too young to be old.”

“You are old,” I told her and laughed quietly to myself, thinking about all the times she had mocked me for being old.

This revenge was delicious because revenge is a dish that’s best served old.

•••

I read a description of heaven and hell somewhere years ago.

Hell was described as a place where a long banquet table is filled with all sorts of delicious foods, but the people around the table have 3-foot-long spoons fastened to their hands and they cannot feed themselves.

Heaven was described as the exact same place, except there people feed each other.

Wow, that’s beautiful, I thought.

Then I realized I was reading the format for a new reality TV show.

•••

Failed book proposal: A shaggy butter slicer becomes romantically involved with a drugstore clerk whose only job is to replace name-brand throat lozenges.

Title: “Hairy Patter and the Changer of Sucrets”

[Editor’s note: Mr. Bryant takes undeserved pride in citing one of the great novels of our time and twisting a truly awful pun from it. However, we are not amused. Griffindor, forever!]

•••

My son is very conscientious about putting things back where he found them.

Unfortunately, he usually puts them back empty.

I went into the kitchen the other day to make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I took the jelly jar out of fridge and opened it. It was empty.

“OK,” I said calmly, remembering my blood pressure issues. “I’ll just make a peanut butter sandwich.”

I took the peanut butter jar out of the cupboard and opened it. It was empty.

“OK,” I said a little less calmly, remembering my anger issues. “I’ll just make toast.”

I took the bag of bread out of the bread box and opened. It had one slice in it - a heel slice, and only a partial slice at that. You could see through it.

“OK,” I said through gritted teeth, remembering my hunger issues. “I’ll just have a bowl of cereal. And if the cereal box is empty, somebody’s going to die!”

I took the Cheerios out of the cupboard and slowly opened it. It was full! A tear came to my eye, and I felt light, as if a tight belt around my chest had been loosened. Never before had I been so happy about a box of cereal.

I took the milk out of the fridge, and it was empty.

When I woke up, I found myself strapped to a gurney in an ambulance with my hands wrapped around my 17-year-old son’s throat.

That’s my story, Officer, and I’m sticking with it.

•••

I saw a report last week that journalists have become big-time celebrities who sometimes are more well-known that the newsmakers they cover.

TV news anchors have been big stars in this country for a long time. In England, they’re smaller stars - dwarf stars, perhaps.

I think that’s because the British call their anchors “news readers,” which has a more humbling sound to it.

Cocktail party guest: And what do you do for a living?

British TV journalist: I read news.

Cocktail party guest: Oh, do you? Out loud?

British TV journalist: Mostly.

Cocktail party guest: Well, isn’t that special.Good for you.

Read Carleton Bryant’s daily humor blog at http://washingtontimes.com/weblogs/out-context.

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