Organized crime

Back when La Croix had a corner on the designer-seltzer market, I became an avid devotee and we quickly dedicated a shelf of the refrigerator to my passion for sparkling hydration. Last summer during lockdown, the kids expressed an interest in trying it, and Summerly fell hard for the stuff. The boys liked it, too, so we began buying an assortment of different brands and flavors to see which we liked best (count this experiment among so many other ways we’ve all invented exciting enterprises during Covid).

One day Liam went to get a seltzer from the refrigerator, sat down at the counter, and opened it. Summerly, sitting next to him, without even looking away from her lunch, put her hand out, and Liam removed the tab from his can and gave it to her. She put it in a mason jar on the counter and continued eating her burrito. I asked what that was all about, and Liam said, “That’s how I pay her for seltzer.”

“You pay her for seltzer?” I asked. “Yes,” he said cheerfully, “She loves it the most, so she charges us for it. We pay her with those,” he said, pointing to the mason jar. “Wait,” I said, “Let me get this straight. You have to pay Summerly for the privilege of drinking seltzer by giving her your can tabs?” They all nodded as if this were the most usual thing in the world. I pointed out that I was the one who actually bought the seltzer, and they responded, “We know.” To this day, I’m still trying to figure out whether this arrangement more closely resembles entrepreneurship or racketeering.

I bring this up because the other day we were playing “Alibi”, a game where one person leaves the room and the others think up an imaginary crime, assign it a date and time, and invent for themselves each an alibi. They also choose one person to be the criminal, and when the detective reenters the room and asks each person to provide their alibis, the criminal changes one detail of his or her alibi on the second round of questioning. On our first round, Liam was the detective, and when he asked Summerly what she was doing at eight o’clock on the night of September 30th, her response was “Drinking out of my wine glass and thinking about money.”

Here she is, my darling middle child, the daughter I so desperately wanted and who was so eager to get here she didn’t even give me time for an epidural when she decided it was time to arrive, now shaking down her brothers by running an extortion ring out of my kitchen and dropping her tithes into a jam jar coffer right before my very eyes. Here she is, this little pixie of a child who didn’t even cry when she fell on the playground and broke her humerus so significantly she needed surgery to have metal wires put through her bone, now imagining herself as a Miss Hannigan type sloshing her way toward the bank. One thing’s for sure: this child is force to be reckoned with. Wall Street, you’ve been warned.

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