Plausible Deniability And The Great Empty Beer Can War Of 1987
My daughter has an extensive track record of trashing furniture. I’m not talking about scratching the finish, spilling water on it, or any of those kind of pussy minor accidents that I would gladly deal with in my house. She fucks furniture up. I mean, makes it fall apart into individual furniture molecules. Case in point, her dresser. She had a dresser with five drawers on the front of it, and she would CRAM clothes in there until the drawers would burst. I’m not kidding, her jeans drawer had a wad of jeans in there so dense that they were on the verge of gravitational collapse. And when I say the drawers would burst, I’m not talking about the cheap particle board bottom most dresser drawers contain these days. The solid wood front of the drawer would fly off like a button on Oprah’s pants. One time I reattached the front of the drawer with 4 inch wood screws. That lasted a week.
So her dresser failed its main purpose on this earth which was to contain clothes. Instead, it sat against the far wall in her room periodically erupting clothes like a fashion-conscious Mt. St. Helens. One day we’d experience a jeans eruption, the next a shorts explosion, etc. And even though the clothes would be wadded up so tightly that they were unrecognizable, you’d always know what had exploded because my daughter had written, in the six inch tall lettering common to kindergartners, “PANTS!”, “SOCKS!”, or my favorite “UNDERWHERE!!!” on the side of the white dresser with a Sharpie. Still, the dresser wasn’t without its girly charms: It was festooned with Barbie stickers and the top had seven or eight coats of nail polish with names like “Cotton Candy Pink” or “Vibrant Pink” or “Motherfucking PINK!”
Finally, I was walking past her room one day when I heard a noise coming from her room. As I entered, I distinctly heard the dresser moan in pain, “Kill me!” So it was time to get a new dresser. I took the old one in the back yard, shot it four or five times, and took it apart board by board with an axe. Then I dropped it off at Goodwill because a) They’ll dispose of it without charging me; and b) I’m an asshole.
I came back home with a large white dresser from Ikea that had eight large and very spacious drawers. I couldn’t bring my daughter to Ikea with me, of course, because they’ve heard of her and how she treats furniture. If I turned my head for a second, she’d disappear and the authorities would find her lifeless body stuffed in a economical pine cabinet floating in a fjord. But I picked well and she loved the new dresser. Once it was fully assembled, I sat her down and had the talk with her. No, not about sex. She can figure that out like I did: by going over to my friend Charlie’s house and looking through his dad’s back issues of Penthouse. The talk I had was about the vastness of the desert outside of town, the difficulty of finding a shallow grave, and other things she’d need to worry about if she fucked up this dresser like she had the last.
To her credit, it has been a full six months and we haven’t had any issues with the dresser. Until this weekend when my daughter came running downstairs and informed me that her brother had broken her dresser.
Me: “How do you know that it was him?”
Daughter: “He was in there this morning!”
Me: “For less than thirty seconds!”
Daughter: “Who else would have done it?”
Me: “Beats me, Dances On Dressers! Lead me to your teepee and we shall confront the young scout.”
And of course I got in there and it was obvious that she had jammed too many articles of clothing in there, the drawer got off track, she panicked, she pulled all the clothes out, jammed them under her bed, and tried to pin it on her brother. A nice try, but she failed to take into account that when I was growing up my Indian name was Gets Away With Murder. I know all the tricks.
What disturbs me is the fact that my daughter has stumbled across the concept of plausible deniability. My daughter used to specialize in implausible deniability, in which I would ask her if she’d jammed her cat into a small piece of luggage and she’d deny it even though:
- She was holding onto said piece of luggage
- The luggage was wobbling back and forth, emitting “meow” noises
- She was in the process of checking off the last box on a list with three things on it: “Find Bongo”, “Get sootcaise”, “Put Bongo in sootcaise”
I thoroughly enjoyed the implausible deniability because it made parenting decisions easy and it was a good way of gauging just how stupid she thinks I am. (Pretty stupid, as it turns out. Like Snooki-level retardation.) But now that she’s finally tumbled to the radical idea that a lie is more believable if it is consistent with logic, common sense, and the laws of the known universe, things are bound to get harder. And it makes me think about my dad.
Among the chores my dad asked of my brothers and I was mowing the lawn. As we had a very large back yard, this was a task that took three hours. Still, I enjoyed it because even as a teenager I knew the simple joy of honest work. That and I’d get higher than Jesus and listen to Led Zeppelin full blast while tooling around on the rider mower. And of course this led to some unfortunate decisions, such as the one where I backed over a formerly bushy, four foot tall shrub and reduced it to a pile of sticks and disembodied leaves. Oops. I just raked up the remains and piled them up where they used to live and finished the lawn, saying nothing to anyone.
Several days later I saw my dad near the former shrub and walked up to him.
Greg: “What’s up, dad?”
Dad: “What the hell happened to the shrub?”
Greg: “Hey, yeah! What the…”
Greg: “Looks like, I don’t know, some animal tore it to pieces or something.”
Now my dad was anything but stupid. He held a PhD in nuclear physics. But because I had plausible deniability on my side, I could deny everything. Maybe wolves did it! Maybe my older brother did it! Maybe my younger brother! Maybe rowdy neighborhood kids! Who knew? Not me! And he knew that short of producing videotape that showed me murdering a shrub to the strains of Whole Lotta Love, he had no way of pinning the crime on anyone. He stood there, slowly shaking his head.
Ditto the time I came across him examining the evergreen bushes by the side of the garage that were brown and dying from roughly my crotch level downward because I’d come home late on weekends, drunk, and didn’t want to wake my parents by flushing the toilet. So I peed on the bushes. “I don’t know dad, looks like a neighbor’s dog has been peeing on the bushes.” “Yeah, a really tall dog!” (Slowly shakes his head.)
When you have siblings, you can hopelessly cloud the issue with a minimal amount of effort. In fact, if you get good at it, you can frame a brother or sister for a crime they never committed, which is as good as it gets. This is what happened during the Great Empty Beer Can War of 1987.
My mom used to buy beer by the case. She did this for very different reasons than I have for buying beer in bulk: For her, it was cost-effective and meant she didn’t have to buy beer too often. The benefit to me and my younger brother was obvious: We could sneak a couple of beers without anyone noticing. The only problem? Disposing of the evidence while you’re lying on your bed, lazily wondering how many women you’d nail in your lifetime (my best guess at the time was woefully short of the mark). I got clever: I put the empties in my brother’s closet.
A week later I heard my mom talking to my brother in his room: “Don’t forget, on Thursday we’ve got to… What is this? Why are there empty beer cans in your closet?”
Brother: “I don’t know! They’re probably Greg’s!”
Mom: “Uh-huh. Sure.”
A couple of minutes later my brother came into my room: “Thanks a lot, asshole!” The next time I had a few empties to dispose of, I just tossed them into my closet. “Greg, do you need new jeans? Because… What is this? Why are there empty beer cans in your closet?”
Greg: “Ha! They’re probably there because a certain someone is trying to get clever with his empties.”
Mother: “Ooh, that kid!”
And, of course, a couple of minutes later my brother barged into my room. “Thanks again, asshole! What the fuck?” At that point I was free to leave empties pretty much anywhere in the house. I’d practically belch through my brother’s protestations of innocence without my mom tumbling to the truth. And then he’d try to frame me by leaving empties under my bed, or flagrantly out on my desk and that still wouldn’t work. He’d still get nailed for it. If you’re reading this, dude, sorry. I was 18 and an asshole.
So now the rooster has come home to roost. And by “rooster”, I mean my daughter. And by “come home to roost” I mean I’m totally fucked. If she gets good at this at all, I may as well just punish myself for having kids knowing damn well that they might turn out like me. I don’t know what I was thinking. One thing I do know, though: If my daughter takes up pot smoking, I won’t have to search through her dresser drawers looking for her stash. It’d never fit in there.
My daughter, when 3 years old, wrote with Sharpie all over the wall. She had ink on her fingers and the marker was still in her pocket. When confronted, she said, “Bubby did it. Spank him.” This was at three years old.
Oh man, some of the stuff kids come up with super early is freaky. I’ve been arguing with my daughter since she was FIVE on the subject of why she can’t watch R rated movies. I say she can’t, she says she can because she’s “a teenager”.
Ah, yes. Deny deny deny. My sister and I had gnarly catfights on a daily basis when we were kids. Brutal. But, as soon as we destroyed something in the house we immediately stopped arguing with each other and put our heads together to come up with a cover up plan. We once managed to tear my bedroom door from its hinges during a particularly bad fight. Our solution was to prop it up and wait. When my dad came home from work, he called us, and we chimed ‘in heeere’. As soon as my dad touched the door it fell forward, and we both said “Daddy what did you doooo?”
He was pissed, but we stuck to the story. He did it.
Good luck with your daughter. And just think, you’ve got boys to deal with too.
Holy shitballs, how the hell did you manage to tear a door off its hinges?!?
I had a similar thing happen with some miniature palm tree my mom loved. We sheared the top off of it with a thrown ball of socks. So we carefully balanced it on there. When my mom came in, we made sure we were there and standing near the “tree” so she’d see the top fall off when she closed the door. It did. She didn’t see it.
So we started, “Mom! Jeez, don’t slam the door like that. Who knows what you’ll break if you don’t… Say! Look at the tree! Look what you did, Mom!” Such idiots. She saw right through us on that one.
You busted up a Chiffarobe! You’ll need some explanation of plausible deniability when they come for you though. And Atticus Finch.
Of course everyone needs Atticus Finch.
I’m going to go out and buy a bird, just so I can call it Atticus Finch.
Don’t ever stop writing! I love how funnily you write up all the shenanigans that goes on in your life. Awesome read X)
Thanks for the nice comments, and thanks for using the word “shenanigans”, which is an awesome word in the same way as “donnybrook”, “brouhaha”, and “Walla Walla, Washington”.
My Dad looks like, acts like, and sounds like Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck’s version) with a lot more swearing.
Jean-Louise! he would say, who took my tweezers? Except it would come out: “oh jesus christ! who took my goddamn tweezers again?” My brother was a little shit. Which meant on the rare occasion I did something bad, he was an easy patsy.
My friends who are twins use to blame the other and the parents (also phds in nuclear physics) sometimes blamed the wrong twin and got fed up with it so they grounded both of them for any wrongdoing.
This was wonderfully written!
I knew a pair of identical twins once, and the first thing I asked them was, “Have you ever switched places and nailed each other’s girlfriend?” Yup. They thought it was hilarious. “Did you ever tell them?” Fuck, no!
See? Twins are evil. Funny, but evil.
Oh holy hell, we could not snitch in our family. If something happened and we couldn’t blame it on a neighbor we all had to take the blame. We even knocked out my youngest brother’s teeth and because of the “snitch and die” rule, he said he did it himself. You better hope those kids of yours don’t group up…divide and conquer, man.
What a hysterical post…great writing!
Wow, I’m not willing to parent to that extreme. I’m not saying there’s anything necessarily wrong with it, just that I can’t be arsed to put that much effort into it.
Also, there is such a thing as plausible deniability when it comes to how your kids turn out. The more normal my response, the less likely I’m responsible for one of my kid’s massive killing sprees. Plausible deniability, people. It’s the tits.
When me and my sister used to start screaming at each other, I could always out think her and was only a matter of time that I would reduce her a shell of her former self. We are all arseholes as kids.
But from an instinct of survival she produced a tactic to make sure I never won an argument ever again. She slapped herself in the face as hard as she could, started crying her eyes out, and went running to Mum.
I was fucked.
Well played, sis. Well played.
My favorite is from my niece. From everything to hiding food under her bed, to distroying her xmas gift within 5 min., it is always her brothers fault…she’s an only child.
It’s like Captain Tuttle from MASH. (Whoo-boy, nothing dates you like a good MASH reference.)