Long before blogs were on my radar, I used to craft rollicking good tales to a different audience every single night. I told these stories to my young son at bedtime, and he ate them up. They were known as 'make up' stories, and not because of my ongoing sponsorship deal with Revlon.
Ian, I thought you were more of a MAC cosmetics guy?
Some of my stories took on lives of their own, none more so than the one I wove about Pooh and Piglet's secret love child. We'll get to that in a moment.
Have you ever noticed that cartoon characters seem to be visually androgynous? Finding bumps on either Bugs Bunny or Porky Pig's smooth facade is like finding humility in Brian Mulroney's character (I'm not swayed by your crocodile tears, cryin' Bri). All television cartoon characters wear their 'parts' internally, though it's obvious that many of them are meant to be male. Go ahead, try to convince me that Porky Pig isn't a guy. I mean abedeebedeebedeebe, of course he's a guy.
Piglet, from the Winnie-The-Pooh series, was built much like Porky, but there was something about Piglet that made me think that there was estrogen flowing through her bacon. Yup, I just assumed that Piglet was a girl. This was quite convenient, because one of my stories told the saga of Pooh and Piglet having a child. The child was named Poohlet.
My son had small rubber Pooh/Piglet/Tigger/Eyeore figures with whom he used to play. They were such a huge part of his early childhood that we've kept them in case we ever have grandchildren. When Poohlet was born into the hundred acre wood klatch, there was a request to 'make him real'. Now, this was the mid 1990s, long before I owned a rubber factory in southeast Asia, so I had to be creative. I took a paper likeness of Pooh, and a paper likeness of Piglet, then Edward Scissorhanded them into one paper cutout character. Voila! Poohlet.
Poohlet had the head of one of his parents, and the body of the other. He wasn't what you'd call 'physically attractive', but he was hamsome. Poohlet became an instant hit with my son. Through my nightly tales, Poohlet took on a personality all his own. Everything was going just swimmingly until one day, while reading a real Pooh story, we discovered that Piglet was actually a boy.
Oh shit! (muttered silently)
My son asked me me how it was possible that Winnie-the-Pooh (clearly male) and Piglet (now also male) could have a child.
"Umm, Wendy, could you come here for a moment? Julian has a question." Then I would make my escape and mow the lawn, EXCEPT, Wendy was away at the time so I couldn't sidestep my son's innocent, yet dastardly complex, question.
I never relished the idea of explaining the birds and the bees to my son, mostly because, in the mid 1990s, I had yet to figure them out myself. I found myself trying to explain how two male characters could have a baby. I was trying to explain this to a pre-schooler. He was very advanced for his age, but probably not ready for all the details. Explaining the delicate details of Winnie-the-Pooh's gay tryst was akin to paddling a leaky canoe upstream in a river of fudge...not easy.
I decided not to delve into the 'ins and outs' of the gay lifestyle because I knew little of the birds and the birds. I decided to take the more conservative approach. I told him that Pooh and Piglet were just friends; room-mates, if you will. I told my son that Pooh and Piglet adopted Poohlet. I added that they were both single, but always wanted to be parents, and that seemed to satisfy his curiosity.
Yes, you really dodged a bullet there, Ian.
I probably had a six or seven year reprieve before any more talk of sexuality reared its ugly head, then one day it happened. My wife was discussing something of a feminine nature and our son was listening. Back in those days, the boy's hearing was so acute that he could hear a Crunchie bar being unwrapped five kilometres away. Julian decided to add his two cents worth to the conversation. His words, forever immortalized in the Varty/Nielsen annals, were:
"Mom, I know a lot about a lot of things, and gynecology is just one of them."
Wendy shot him 'the look', before proceeding to put him in his place. "No. You. Don't," she said in no uncertain terms. I was apoplectically speechless during the short, but intense, dialogue. Julian didn't contest Wendy's raw comeback, though I sensed that he truly felt that he knew plenty about the female anatomy. Secretly, I blame it on those back issues of National Geographic that I had laying around the house.
To this day I don't know what prompted him to say something so outrageous, but I guess it just runs in the family; after all, I know a lot about a lot of things too, though gynecology most certainly isn't one of them.