As children, my wife Doris and I had different kinds of things on our minds and asked different sorts of questions. She tells me that before bedtime, she would sit on her mom’s bed while her mother prayed for angels to watch over her as she slept. When it was time for Doris to climb down from her mother’s bed and go to her room, Doris wondered if the angels called in to watch over her stayed around her mother’s bed or came with her, where they could maintain their vigil throughout the night. She slept better when she settled on the latter notion.
My questions were of a different sort. Good Hoosiers that they were, my parents cooked a big pot of ham and beans for dinner at least once a week and sometimes more often. This often had the expected effect on my youthful digestive tract. On a day after such a filling meal, while walking in a line of students from my kindergarten building to the main school, when an expected, related incident occurred (and I ask you here: how does one write for a sophisticated and genteel audience about the digestive issues most of us share but are embarrassed to talk about?), I was left wondering if the resulting odor traveled with me as I walked on or if it stayed more or less where the incident had occurred. If the former, then I would be responsible for its existence and need to develop an act of denial, either detecting the scent myself and demanding the culprit to own it publicly, or showing no sign of sensing a bad smell and hoping my classmates had enough couth to do likewise. If the latter, then I could hope that those who came behind me in line might be accused of the deed and have to deal with the consequences.
I’ve lately wondered if the different sorts of things on our minds as children reflect important, basic differences in Doris’s and my character. That’s probably the case, I’m thinking.