The other morning as I was drinking a cup of coffee my son, Clyde, came into the kitchen and said, “I just had a poop so hard it bruised my butthole.”
Not quite sure what to do with this information, I took another sip and said, “Maybe you should try drinking more water.”
Clyde scratched his belly and seemed to seriously consider what I had just said for a second or two before finally replying, “I dunno. Last week I drank water all day long at school, and then the poop just shot out of my butt.”
“Hmm,” I said, momentarily stymied. “Well then, I don’t know what to tell you.”
“That’s okay,” he said, smiling as he left the kitchen. “I just wanted to let you know.”
Umm . . . thanks?
Without a doubt, my son Clyde is the King of TMI—Too Much Information. You might think that this was impossible. That someone as young as Clyde—possessing neither a cell phone nor his own reality show—could not even be in the running for such a title, but you would be wrong. Because even though Clyde’s opportunities to overshare might be a little more limited than some, he easily overcomes this slight disadvantage by telling absolutely everything to everyone.
I know that this is probably a trait I should try and discourage. The thing is, though, that after spending my day trying to pry the tiniest little bit of information out of his teenage sister, Clementine, Clyde’s tendency to overshare can be rather nice. While I might get too much out of Clyde, it helps make up for the fact that I get absolutely nothing out of Clementine.
Talking to Clementine is like talking to the chief PR flack of an oil company that has just managed to drop a fully loaded tanker smack in the middle of the rain forest. They know they have to say something, but they’ll be damned if they’re going to give out any more information than necessary. And any information they do release is run through so many internal monitors that what comes out can hardly qualify as English.
“How was school?” I might ask.
“Anything interesting happen?”
“Is that a yes?”
“Just tell me this: is there anyone I need to call up and apologize to on behalf of our family?”
Ask Clyde, on the other hand, how his day went, and I’ll get a twenty minute description of what happened before the first bell even rang. What’s more, if I show the slightest interest, I’ll get pictures, and sometimes even a map. “Okay, see, this one guy—you know, the guy whose mom we saw at the store? He looks like this. Anyway, he went here, and then this other guy came up here . . .” The end result of his story usually turns out to be something like, “Well, anyway, they almost ran right into each other, but didn’t. And then I pooped. A lot. ”
Meanwhile, I find out later that Clementine’s “Mm” actually translated into “Two girls got into a fight in the cafeteria, and one of them broke the other one’s collar bone, and then the cops came and we had to spend the rest of the day in an assembly talking about non-violence.”
Surely there must be something other than the King of TMI and the Queen of Obscurantism.
Unfortunately, just like in a deck of cards, I think that that thing must be the Joker. And if that’s the case, then I’m sure that—as usual—the joke’s on me.