Pants Go In, Whales Come Out

My brother Andrew went through a no-pants stage a while ago. At first, he refused to wear them inside the house. Gradually, he started refusing to wear them at all. And when Mom cracked down, he got creative:

All of the pants in the house vanished. At least all of the pants in his size. My parents looked everywhere logical: under the bed, in the closet, in the laundry hamper, behind the hamper – and then started the less logical search: behind the chest freezer, in the fridge, under the garage shelves, in the backyard, inside the piano… no pants. Anywhere.


My mom gave it up as a lost cause. She called me at college to inform me that she was at Wal-Mart with Dad and Andrew, buying an exorbitant amount of pants to replace the wardrobe that had gone missing. The new wardrobe was to be kept in my old room, under lock and key, to make sure that he couldn’t “vanish” more than one pair at a time. Now that his pants were being rented, they became a precious commodity, and he kept better track of them.

Just a few days later, she was on the phone with me when she suddenly said, “Hold on a minute – where did you get those?!” She had turned her back for about 2 minutes. By the time she looked at my brother again, he had removed the new pants, produced one of the old pairs out of thin air, and replaced the new pants with old. The new pants were now missing, never to be seen again.

Now, here’s a switch. Ethan and I were reading through a news post the other day about an ignorant (and malicious) neighbor who had sent a letter to the family of a boy with Autism. I won’t post a link here, because if the letter doesn’t make you mad enough to throw things, you should get your head examined. Anyway, the basic gist was that the neighbor was furious this family would allow their son out in public, because he made the neighbor uncomfortable when he did things that other people don’t. Like making noises without words. The argument was that the kid should be locked up instead of “inflicting” his general appearance on others. (I personally feel like this neighbor should be locked up for being too ugly to “inflict” his or her face on the neighbors – but that’s a different story.)

Anyways. This isn’t about people who hate people. It’s about people with bad English who hate people. Because this particularly ignorant soul made a derisive comment about how this boy was always “whaling” in the front yard. That’s right. Whaling. Like with a harpoon, a boat, and a ship’s captain named Ahab. Whaling. And what Ethan and I want to know is, where did this Autistic boy suddenly come up with a whale – in the front yard – in the middle of landlocked Canada? We were puzzled immensely. “Timmy, where did you get that whale?!” (Timmy wouldn’t say.) Wailing I understand, but if I had a neighbor who managed to go whaling in the front yard, I wouldn’t even be mad. I’d be taking pictures.

“Thar she blows, mateys! In upper Saskatchewan!”

So this morning, we came up with a theory: Autistic kids have a void of some sort that defies time and space. In that void, they can produce or hide whatever they need to. That whale must have come from the same place to whence Andrew’s pants disappeared. It sounds crazy, but it’s the only viable explanation. It explains years of missing pants, car keys, CDs, and uneaten sandwiches (actually, those turned up in the VCR. If you were born after the 80s, go ask your parents. They’ll explain what a VHS tape is.)

Now, we’re on the hunt. We’re just watching and waiting, to see if we can catch him unsuspecting. Because if we can figure out how to use this void, the world is our oyster – or beluga, if we choose to take up front-yard whaling ourselves. Expect to find me in a few years, surrounded by 18 pairs of pants, some men’s briefs that the dog found in the void a few years ago, a collection of great rock music, and most of my life’s savings. Because I’m going after everything that’s disappeared in the past decade or so. And as soon as I find a way in, I’m gonna mine that thing dry. ♦



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