Dennis the Menace has never been one of my favorite comic strips. His outlandish deeds were always too unbelievable for me. Besides, I have my own version right here at home. His deeds are just as unbelievable, but I’ve witnessed them all for myself. For instance, when our little menace was a tyke, he stepped on a hot burner while raiding the kitchen cupboards. He has the ring-shaped scars to prove it. He’s gotten his head caught in the railings of our living room. He lost Dad’s new fishing pole while using it to retrieve his hat that blew into the river. And he’s blown up our microwave oven. Once he and a friend rolled around the family trampoline with roller blades to practice their jumps, tearing it to smithereens. (I made them sew it up as punishment!)
Cankers are something that have always plagued our poor boy. Once he self-administered canker sore medication, only to realize too late it was Wart-B-Gone. That’s why we started locking the medicine cabinet. He’s always had trouble with his ears, too, getting outer ear infections which often end up sealing shut his ear canal. We’ve made many trips to the emergency room over the years when he’s been in terrible pain with this malady – always after midnight. At nineteen years of age, though, you’d think that he’d had enough of the ER. But no, he stuck a pencil – eraser side first – into his ear and the eraser broke off inside. That little tidbit cost $500 to have it removed! He must really like that ER. He’s been there so often. Once the ambulance took him when he took his brother’s bike and tried to jump it over a tall pile of rocks, landing instead on his neck.
He was actually quite decent in music. Mrs. B told us that he ought to continue it in high school. He played the cello in elementary school. He wasn’t quite gentle enough with it, though, as he once broke two cello strings within 24 hours. They cost $35 each to replace and you know that’s the parent’s – not the school’s – responsibility. He broke a clarinet that we bought for him in middle school and we finally had to have him quit band at the end of the year after he broke an Alto Sax. “I just leaned it up against the music stand, Mom, and it fell over.” (Almost $200 for that mistake.) It was just too expensive to keep up with him.
He’s usually pretty coordinated, except for the time he was walking along the top of the bike rack in middle school and slipped, straddling that pole on his crotch. And while he’s a crack shot, he once tried to convince his brother to be his moving target. He swore up and down that it didn’t hurt to be shot with an air soft gun. And to prove it, he shot his own leg! That was the end of THAT conversation.
We discovered how athletic he is when he was 9 months old. He was fussing in church and we gave him a ball to occupy him and keep him quiet. Nothing doing! He got rid of that by throwing it clear across the entire chapel. It landed up with the Deacons waiting to pass the sacrament. He often got bored during the real game of baseball. He’d lie down in outfield and wait for the ball to show up. The chewing out he got from his coach didn’t deter him, however. He was always practicing throwing that ball. He loved to throw hard and fast. In fact, while he waited for Mom and Dad to get their wills signed and sealed by a notary public, he decided to get in some more practice. He threw his pitches against the side of the brick wall – until he eventually missed and shattered the business’s large plate glass window. Thank goodness for homeowner’s insurance! Don’t know how a menace’s folks could survive without it.