"Buddy, what's going on, why are you walking so weird?"
"Dad, aren't you worried about the coconuts," he answered, glancing nervously upwards.
"Remember what we heard on the radio?"
Months earlier, while driving to school, some DJ mentioned that every year coconuts kill more people then sharks. GoofBoy can't remember his chores, his homework, or the names of his friends, but this factoid stayed with him. As he mentioned it, I remembered joking about it: "Oh-oh, watch out for the coconuts."
When he and carpool buddy get out of hand I threaten to bang their heads together like a pair of coconuts.
GoofBoy hadn't gotten the joke, and instead had mulled over the danger for months - and completely inaccurately.
"Buddy, do you think coconuts kill people by falling on them?"
"Uh-huh," he said nervously.
"Buddy, the people who die from coconuts die because they are allergic to coconut and they eat something with coconuts in it. Also, those aren't coconut trees, they are palm trees. So you have nothing to worry about. You don't have to worry about walking under them."
"Wow, so coconuts are a sneaky double-threat?"
"Buddy, didn't you hear what I said. There are no coconut trees in Los Angeles. Nothing to worry about," I said exasperated.
He didn't mention it again, but I did notice furtive glances upward throughout the trip.
I let it slide. I remember misinterpreting parental instructions. My mom told me not to run in front of cars. I interpreted that as meaning that cars, like dogs, could smell fear and that if I was going out into the street I should walk slowly and confidently. Fortunately we lived on a quiet street.
Still, I didn't tell GoofBoy that in Miami (where MamaGoof and I are enjoying a little getaway) coconut trees are common. I wouldn't want him to worry.