If you want to get away with it, work on the delivery

Posted on August 20, 2011


It ate my homework
“With stealth and precision the beast struck from behind – its razor-sharp fangs glowing in the October night. My homework didn’t stand a chance…”

“I’d kill myself but I’m not allowed to use knives.”

I’m sorry if I started to laugh when you said that, son; I tried really hard to keep a straight face.  Really I did.

I’m bringing this up again because it highlights something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about: Drama.

A friend blogged about drama the other day and that reminded me (Thanks Diaper Dad!).

I’m not surprised to hear you declare your intended self-extinguishment simply because you couldn’t have another round of dessert.

See, I did the whole drama thing, too:

I threatened to jump off a cliff;

On more than one occasion, I had a limp mysteriously return after two hours of feeling fine, right when my mom came to pick me up;

I was even known to tumble to the ground and roll 10 feet, arms flailing, and land in a heap with a groan even though the nearest object on which to trip was 20 feet away.

So rest assured, you’re not fooling anyone.

But I’m not here to tell you to stop. On the contrary, you’ll find that the drama skills you’re practicing now will be quite valuable as you go through life. In fact, I want you to be in all the school plays because it’s really one of the best training programs available for eventual parenting.

To prove my point, let me show you two of the most useful applications of drama as you get older: getting out of stuff and getting sympathy.

Getting out of stuff

Forgot to do your homework? Late for the 6th time this week? “Accidentally” dropped a frog into the teacher’s purse? You’ll need to play the drama card.

Reciting a great excuse without drama is like a scary movie without the cheesy music: it’s totally ineffective and really pretty lame.

Yes, you need the perfect excuse, but you’ve got to be convincing if you want to get away with it.  For example, a mediocre “Sorry, but we got in an accident on the way here” excuse is brought to life with a good limp and occasional whimper.

Dressing up your face with a good bulging lower lip and shuffling your feet as you enter the classroom are good additions to the “I had a death in the family” excuse.  But while it sounds simple, only well-trained method actors should practice this excuse.  Trust me, I know.  I used this excuse so much one year that it was like a black cloud of death descended upon our family, taking relative after relative until the only ones left were my parents and 2 of my 3 brothers. The teacher started getting suspicious by around the third cousins twice-removed.

Also, it’s really tough explaining why you’ve had 5 grandmothers die lately so keep track and write it all down.

Getting Sympathy

As a card-carrying Y Chromosomer, you’ll be using drama to elicit sympathy, mostly from girls. When you’re young it’ll get you attention.  You’ll squeeze the paper cut until the blood runs halfway down your arm then wait for the girls to come running to comfort you.

Well, actually, you never outgrow that one; it still works well for me.

As a husband, sympathy is highly valued.  No matter how much of a manly-man you are, the slightest hint of a sneeze is an opening you shouldn’t pass up.  And since you’re likely to take after your dad, you’ll be relieved to know it works for wimps too.

There’s nothing more pathetic, yet for some reason generally accepted, than a man with a temperature of 99 degrees lying in bed all day, moaning and being served chicken soup while watching Gilligan’s Island reruns in his boxers.*

But don’t bother trying to heat the thermometer with a match. It never works (the 115 degree temperature is a dead giveaway). And besides, your wife knows you’re just being dramatic and is indulging you anyway (Bless her soul) so there’s no need to overdo it. We’ll talk some other time about the sad reality that you’ll not be able to get away with anything when you’re married.

You’ve already proven that you have a good aptitude for drama (for better or worse) so I’ve got heaps of faith in you.

Use it wisely.

And use it more on your mom than on me, ‘kay?

*While, incidentally, his wife deals with 4 kids, a job, the house, food shopping, and taking care of Mr. Pathetic while nursing a broken leg and still recovering from her most recent bout of shingles.