As we walked past the mailboxes and down the steps, the younger announced, “I’m looking forward to doing my Evil Plan after school.”
This was the first I’d heard of any such plan. I laughed. “Your ‘evil plan’? What’s your ‘evil plan’?”
“I’m going to make potions that will be poison, for real, and trick bad people who come to our house into thinking they’re just drinks.”
“But does anyone bad ever come to our house?” I asked, idly.
“Well, we’ll only do it if someone particular we don’t know who is bad comes to our house.”
“But they might not be bad, we might just not know them,” I offered, attempting to embody a hospitable presumed-good-until-proven-evil policy towards guests entering our home. “They might actually be nice.”
“Yeah, but I wanna do that trap. So let’s say that they’re mean. Then I would use that trap.”
Realizing that my initial objection implied that if we were able to verify that the unsuspecting visitors to our house were in fact evil, then it would be acceptable to poison them, I added, “but even if bad people did come to our house, we still wouldn’t want to give them poison, would we, because that might make them really sick.”
She looked at me curiously, “No, that is what I would want. That’s my trick. Because I’m evil. I’m the evil chief.”
“Well, I don’t think you really want to do that,” I insisted, piously.
“Yes I do.”
“Well,” I declared, primly, “well, anyway, I don’t want to poison anyone!”
“Well, you have to!” she retorted. “Because you’re my evil helper!”
“But what if I don’t want to be your evil helper?”
“You have to be because I’m the chief.”
Here, allow me to break off the narration to ask the following question: why am I such a hand-wringing, moralizing kill-joy? Obviously, this is a make-believe scenario that the younger is entertaining … so why can’t I rub my hands together gleefully and cackle, “Ah yes, Chief! We will poison them all!”
Worst. Evil. Henchman. Ever.
“But what if I don’t want to poison anyone?” I repeated. So, so whiny. She paused, considering my request. Then, magnanimously: “I’ll find something else for you to do.”
That was that and we discoursed of other things: of monkeys, and whether they could be trained to fight, and of the younger’s dream, which involved a thief who left a trail of “tiny disco balls” in his wake, and a magical “little robotic wooden guy,” whose intentions were ambiguous. Eventually, however, the younger circled back to the gleeful anticipation of executing her evil plan.
“Let me see if my trap works.”
“Your trap?” (I was still thinking about the magical little robotic wooden guy.)
“My potion is my trap.”
“And I’m going to take some net and put some glue over it and wait until someone bad comes to our house and they’ll stick to it and then I’ll wait until the glue dries.”
I pondered this scenario. Entrapment-via-glue is, of course, a classic cartoon trope. Like this, yes?
And yet, as a preschooler accustomed to gluing things, the younger is well aware that glue does not dry instantly (is not “is it dry yet?” a constant refrain of the four-year old?). Therefore, cartoon and preschooler-logic combined to produce the priceless mental image of the younger sitting patiently next to her captive, testing every now and again to see if he or she were stuck yet, the captive obediently waiting for the glue to dry.
That’s what I was thinking. But what I said in reply was, “You’re going to do that as well as the poison?”
“Yup. And you’re my helper.”
“But what if I don’t want to be evil any more?” Whine, whine, whine.
“That’s your job, being evil,” she explained matter-of-factly. “That’s your job,” she repeated. “You can’t switch, I’m the boss. I have to tell you if I want you to switch or not.”
How, I thought to myself, marveling, did I spawn this utterly self-possessed creature? This girl is so not going to have impostor syndrome when she grows up.
Still, because I’m a throw-rain-on-your-parade-goody-two-shoes-type, I complained, “But what if I say, ‘Boss, I don’t want to be evil any more, I want to be good!’”
She sighed. “If you said that, yes I’ll let you do a different job, but if you don’t, I’ll send you still to this job.” Impressive, I thought: firm but also receptive to her employees’ requests.
“Uh huh. Cos I don’t know if I want to poison anyone for real.”
“Well, we’ll just see if anybody drinks it.”
I must say (and I realize I’m biased), she really is an excellent Evil Chief. Not even a wobble. Nerves of steel. Patient with her dithering minion.
Oh, and, I forgot to say, you really must come visit us sometime soon! What’s that you say, you don’t really know me very well? Oh, that’s no problem at all, we’re very hospitable here. Surely, there are some of you ASECS stragglers who’d like to stop by for some refreshment on your way to LAX? We’ll be waiting!