Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Howling

     During the month of October Ian's second grade class has been learning about moon cycles. Every night Ian goes outside and checks on the moon. Is it a new moon? Quarter moon? Gibbous or full? Moon studies seem to prompt other studies as well. We've had many wolf discussions this month, and I think it's safe to say that Ian is a bit obsessed.
     Last Thursday my niece got married and had a wedding reception in Memory Grove. It was a beautiful fall night, with clear skies and moderate temperatures. Doors in the reception hall were opened to the outside, and my rowdy son, along with his rowdy cousins, took advantage of the large patio beyond the doors. They ran in and out of the building, chasing each other, using giant pixie sticks from the candy bar as swords. Fueled by sugar and excitement, their imaginations carried them to far off places, where giant beasts stalked forests and humans weren't so... human.
     I was checking out the buffet table the first time I heard it. It started low and soft, rising in pitch, an untamed crescendo of beauty and loneliness, carried away on the breezes of the night. My hand paused over a brownie... I knew the sound, or rather, I knew what made the sound. I decided to ignore it, thinking that the more attention I drew to it, the more it would happen. I moved on to the strawberries. And heard it again. This time the head's of other people turned toward the dark song of the night. I knew I needed to intervene. I set my plate on a table and headed out to the patio. I found the lone wolf leaning on the railing, staring up at the moon.
     "Ian, you can't howl here. It's too loud. You need to wait till we get home."
     "But I'm a werewolf. I have to howl at the moon."
     "This is a wedding. We do not howl at weddings."
     After an explanation of etiquette, he agreed to stop howling. But knowing my son, I knew it wouldn't last. Throughout the evening the wolf returned and lifted his nose to the moon. The perfect sound coming from his throat echoed off the canyon outside and reverberated around the reception hall. I continued to remind him that this was not the time or the place. He would nod his head in understanding, and we would have about five minutes of howl-free time.
     When it was time for the bride and groom to cut the cake, the wolf returned, darting around the legs of the elderly, skidding to a stop six feet from the cake-smeared happy couple. He lifted his nose, and let loose the most impressive howl of the evening. This one came straight from the diaphram and would have made an opera singer proud. I grabbed my young pup and slapped a hand over his mouth. Dragging him outside I hissed, "You can't do that! I told you to stop!"
     Convulsions racked his body as he was gripped in some sort of imagination-induced seizure. I grabbed his shoulders and looked him right in the eyes.
     "Ian, you are NOT a werewolf."
     His eyes rolled back in his head. "Yes--I--a--am."
     I threw my hands in the air and stomped back inside, motioning to Scott that it was his turn. He got up and went outside to join Ian. A few minutes later father and son walked happily back indoors. Ian went to play and Scott sat in the seat next to me.
     "What did you do?" I asked.
     "I just pointed out that it wasn't a full moon. Werewolves only change when the moon is full. We're good."
     And we were. For the rest of the night.
     As for tonight? I picked Ian up from a birthday party at seven o'clock. He climbed in the car and rolled down his window. His face drifted up to look at the moon. The full moon. He turned to look at me.
     "Hey, Mom? Can I howl?"


Jenifer said...

I am CRACKING up! I was instantly transported back to the reception. Love it!

Linda Hart said...

That will be one the bride and groom will never forget! What little boys think of to do! They sure do make our lives exciting!