A Goofing-Off Afternoon


Justin, Owen and I were in the kitchen–Justin and Owen, eating pears for snack, and me trying to do my math. A thought popped in my mind; I usually only think of bananas when I think of fruit that’s yellow, but there are actually other fruits that are as well–like the pears that we’ve been having lately, and some plums; I thought I read in a Laura Ingalls Wilder book that she picked yellow plums.

I asked Justin and Owen, “How many kinds of fruit can you think of that are yellow?” They both started talking at once: “Peaches! Yellow apples!” Owen said. “Bananas–yellow apples!” Justin said. “I bet I know of one you don’t,” I said. “I bet you’ll never guess!” At first they were too busy naming off theirs to pay attention, but then they got interested. “It’s a certain type of one kind of fruit,” I said.

They kept guessing the same one over and over again when none of the new ones were right. Finally, after the suspense had built up, I asked, “Want to know what it is?” They agreed, so I disclosed the great secret: “Yellow plums!”

Owen let out a gasp. “Yellow plums?” he said incredulously.

“Yeah, don’t you remember in the Laura Ingalls Wilder book, it said that there were tons of different kinds of plums that Laura picked, purple ones and red ones and yellow ones?” I asked, referring to “On the Banks of Plum Creek”, which I had read to them. “Ohhh yeahÂ…!” Owen and Justin both said.

That started up our game. Next I did the color orange. Justin guessed the orange right away quite naturally, but I wouldn’t do something that obvious. They went through several other guesses, when Owen had a good idea. “Is it a—what is it—yeah—paw-paw?” he asked. I almost said yes, but I switched halfway through and said “—Not a paw-paw, no.” He was onto me; he immediately asked, “Is it a papaya?”

“Yes,” I said, and Mom, Owen, and I all burst out laughing. “You gave it away, Cadie!” Mom said, who had come in to make supper. “When he said paw-paw, I thought he said papaya at first!” I said, making Owen giggle harder.

For a red fruit I just thought of a cherry; I thought it might take them a while to guess it because it’s been ages since we had cherries. “Apple!” Justin said. “Is it, you know, that seedy thing?” Owen asked; he was trying to describe a pomegranate. They both wound up guessing apple several time over, as well; the “Red Apple” is such a common and so often stereoptyped fruit that it kept coming into their heads every time they thought of red. Probably springing from the thought of an apple, Owen asked if it had a long stem coming out of it. Even when I said it did, he didn’t get it. But Rundy gave it away when he walked by and said, “It’s a cherry, of course.”

“Yes, but they didn’t know that!” I said. I did a tomato next, thinking to get them over that one, seeing as a tomato actually is a fruit—technically. But Justin knew that; no more tricky Cadie for them. Justin said that he was thinking of something white, before they had even guessed mine. “White?” we asked in surprise. There was only one thing I could think of that was white right off the bat, seeing as most things have color to them. I said, “Well, do you mean a cauliflower…? Although that’s not really a fruit. ”

“Nope, NOT cauliflower!” Justin refuted.

“Do you mean white on the inside? Some things are white on the inside, like even apples.” But he kept repeating, “It’s white on the outside.” Owen and I couldn’t guess it, but Mom did; the answer was cantaloupe.

“I know one—it’s black!” Owen cried jubilantly. Mom made a face of surprise. We all guessed lots of ones that weren’t really black, because we figured it was just a dark color that he counted as black. It turned out it was a prune, which do look pretty black, I suppose.
But the one that gave us the most trouble guessing was another of Owen’s, which he said was “Something white and soft and fluffy.” That puzzled us quite a bit at first, partly because we thought he was talking about a fruit at first. And what fruit in the world was white and soft and fluffy? Except for a banana, that is, which we did guess once we thought of it. But then he clarified that it was not a fruit. “Something white and soft and fluffy” sounded queer, like he was talking about white cotton candy or something. But I knew it couldn’t be that, especially since he probably didn’t even know what cotton candy was. I tried to think of what Owen would count as “fluffy”.

“Popcorn?” I guessed. No, it wasn’t popcorn. White…fluffy…soft…Whipped cream, that’s what he must be talking about! But no, it wasn’t that either. “Ice cream?” we guessed. There seemed to be so few things that met all the qualifications, every time a thought popped into my head that did I was sure it must be that. But then Justin guessed, “Flour?”

“Yes!” Owen said. “’Cause I saw Mom scooping that stuff!” (Mom was actually scooping cornmeal for cornbread, but that didn’t make a difference.)

Then we went on to playing I Spy. I looked long and hard for something that would be considered a “nothing” by them, that they would overlook. They would immediately, I knew, guess the things in first sight; like the clock and things on the table. It couldn’t be something with even just a little of my color on the table, because, with the table being so close, they would carefully scrutinize it. It had to be someplace where their eyes didn’t normally wander to—yet not so obscure that it would be almost impossible for them to guess it.

Finally, I spotted a tiny little dandelion laying on the floor, beyond MomÂ’s feet. Perfect! So I said, “I spy something yellow.” Just like I thought, they started out by guessing the clock . . . then everything else that caught their eye–measuring cups, plastic wrap container, or whatever. Then they systematically turned to scanning the walls and the things in/on the cabinets for anything yellow. When none of those things were right, they tried to think of something more sneaky or clever. “MomÂ’s cornbread?” Justin guessed. I laughed and said, “No, not the cornbread.” Finally, when they got desperate, they got down to specks of yellow. Perhaps a little speck of yellow on a medicine bottle? Or a tiny little yellow lid on some container? “It must be in this room,” Justin kept saying, as if he couldnÂ’t believe it really was. “Look up and down; itÂ’s something hard to spy,” I said. I gave them a hint by saying, “Mom just walked past it!” Now they were really interested. If Mom just walked past it, they must be able to guess it. I think Mom laughed when they finally figured out what it was.

When Owen was the one who was “Spying” something we had to guess, he kept saying, “Nope! Nope! Nope!” with his arms crossed confidently at everything we said. “Is it such-and such?” we’d guess.

“Nope!”

“Is it such-and-such, over there?”

“Nope! Nope! Nope-Nope-Nope!” He was hardly even listening to what we were guessing, as if he was sure we would never possibly guess it. After a while of this, Justin asked, “Is it even in this room?”

“Nope!” Owen the Nope-Machine said again, and then he burst out laughing. He thought it was most hilarious, because, of course, heÂ’d only said “Nope” because he was so used to saying it. We were pretty sure thatÂ’s why he was laughing, but you never knew with Owen. He mightÂ’ve been saying “Nope!” so cockily like that because we were guessing in the totally wrong room. Once we had it re-affirmed, though, that it was in the room–like it was supposed to be–we could go back to our string of guesses. He went back to his string of “Nope”s until suddenly it changed to “Yup!” We had gone through so many guesses and nopes, it was hard to tell which guess went to that one “Yup.”

“Yup what?” I asked.

“Yup, it was the phone!”

We all took turns, or tried to. Owen kept interjecting, “Oh, I have one!” as if he just thought of the best one in the world, and wouldn’t wait to say it. “No, Owen, it’s my turn!” Justin would say.

Another one I did was the blue part in the rainbow of a suncatcher. The whole thing was dim, so it didn’t stand out much. They guessed blue objects until they were sure they had guessed every single one in the kitchen. They seemed determined to guess every single one, in fact, going to the point where they started yanking open drawers, pulling out things and asking “Is it this little bit of blue?” It seemed like they’d decided I must be able to see through cabinets. Finally they were at their wit’s end, and gave up. But when I pointed it out to them, Owen cried out, “Oh, I was going to guess that, I just didn’t yet!”

“You should’ve guessed it sooner! You said you gave up!” I scolded, partly exasperated, mostly amused. We pretended to punch each other playfully. I think that turned into me saying, “Hey, you buster!” and tickling him like crazy. Sometimes Owen acts in such a way, pretending to be “cocky”, which if you don’t get mad you can make him burst out laughing instead.

There is only so long you can play I Spy without it getting old, so after that we quit.