Taken at the PS1 art gallery in Queens. Installation by Leandro Erlich.
“Please daddy, I want to learn!” Billy pleads, trying to manipulate me into spilling the beans.
I had been sitting on my chair and he was asking if anybody could sit on my chair. “What?” I asked. “What are you talking about? Yes, anyone can sit on my chair.”
By chair he meant the perfectly ordinary chair parked in front of my computer. I don’t know why he was asking me this.
“Even bad people can sit on your chair?” He went on.
“Well, I suppose if they were really bad people, they wouldn’t be in our house would they, so they wouldn’t be able to sit on my chair.” I said.
BILLY: “Why wouldn’t they? Where would they be?”
ME: “Er, prison I suppose.”
ME: “No, prison, jail, where bad people get locked up forever and ever.”
BILLY: “Forever and ever and ever?”
ME: “Well, no, not usually, usually just for a few years. Say 1 year or 5 years.”
BILLY: “Why not forever and ever?”
ME: “Well, you’d have to do something really bad to go to jail forever.”
BILLY: “Like what Daddy?”
ME: “Er, hmm, nevermind. Do you want some food?”
BILLY: “Tell me Daddy. What really bad thing do you have to do? Tell me, tell me!”
How do I get into these situations? What can I tell him? Treason? He’s going to ask me what that is and I am going to start talking about secrets and he is going to ask me if he will go to jail forever for telling secrets and I’ll have to explain about kinds of secrets and governments and espionage and god knows what. And I can’t start talking about murder and rape. I really should engage my brain more when I am talking to Billy. I don’t like these sticky situations.
“I can’t tell you,” I say, “I’ll tell you when you are older, it’s not for children.”
“Is it standing on a flower?” He asks.
I laugh helplessly. “Not quite, no.”
My laugh wounds his pride and he stares menacingly at me.
Then, wary of even uttering the words, he asks: “is it for breaking a computer?”
I pat him on the head and suggest we fry some sausages. He agrees and we are finally free of this hairy subject.