Happy Birthday Richie
At Christmas or before Richie’s birthday, people sometimes ask what his interests are. Um…I say, thinking hard.
I run through the things boys are usually interested in: Cars. No. Sports. Not really. Superheroes. Not anymore (or so he claims). Trains. Never.
Why can’t I ever think of anything?
Then, after he invited a friend over the other day, it hit me. The friend was quietly playing with J.J.’s Thomas the Train set, which Richie can’t even look at, he’s so uninterested in it.
But Richie didn’t care that this was what his friend wanted to play. He only cared that he had a captive audience.
Resting his chin on the back of the couch, he said, “Yeah, Robbie’s my friend. But not so-and-so. He’s a jerk. He told me I stink. So I said, “No you stink.” Now we’re enemies…but Robbie’s nice. Why is Robbie friends with so-and-so?...You can come to my birthday…It’s at a spray ground…Don’t worry. It’s not a baby place…Do you like Superheroes? I don’t. Except for Iron Man and the Incredible Hulk. And the Flash. And the X-Men. And the Green Arrow. And…”
Richie talked to his friend like this, nonstop, for two and a half hours. The friend didn’t mind. I guess it would be like having a talk radio show playing in the background.
Meanwhile, I finally realized what Richie’s interest was: talking.
The other day, he told me, “Sometimes, when I talk for a long time, I don’t even breathe.”
Ya don’t say. I never noticed that.
But oh the things he says.
The other day, we were at a festival, and you could sign a card to the U.S.A. basketball team. Basketballs literally surrounded us, so I assumed he knew what I meant when I said, “Do you want to say something to team U.S.A.?”
He thought I meant the government. “Dear Mr. President,” he said. “Please bring corn dogs to everybody’s houses.” Then he cracked up.
Saying things out of context is his claim to fame. The other day, J.J. fell off his little toddler car and cut his hand — where he had the stitches. It was bleeding, and Richie said, as if he was Dr. House cracking a medical mystery, “I think he has…blood pressure.”
But mostly he talks about his friends. “I like Drake,” he said. “Even though he doesn’t look like me.”
This week, Richie had his birthday. For his special dinner, he asked for salad, sausage on a bun and cherry pie. He actually hated salad until he saw his best friend eat it at lunch. Now, he can’t get enough of it. Happy birthday to a person whose primary interest is…other people, which is a pretty good way to be.