Inventing a Better Light Bulb

“I do this, Daddy. It’s scientific, really.”

And we’re entwined in the green afghan that my Grandma made while we rest in the top bunk.

“I do this,” and Cayden leans over and peaks out the curtain.

“I can tell what time it is, always.”

He says it’s five-thirty. He’s correct.

“Last night I woke up at two; I could tell because it was dark.”

“How do you exactly know this, Kid?”

I didn’t know he had a seventh sense. I’m genuinely curious, and I smile.

“I can tell when the sun’s about to rise.”

“Me, too.” I continue smiling, a new thing we’ve found together.

“Let’s play truth or false, Daddy.”


“Go ahead.”

“True or false: dinosaurs are extinct.”

I know where’s he’s going with this one.

“No—birds are the only animals to have not gone extinct, and they’re reptilian. T. Rex had feathers. NEXT.”

He can’t fool me.

“Are there more molecules in ten drops of water than there are stars in the universe?”

“Silly question, Cayde. You ARE talking about the universe here.”

He laughs. I kiss him on his head.

He remarks that he tried to trick me, by saying ‘universe’ instead of ‘galaxy’.

“You can’t fool me, Dude.”

“The universe is very different from a galaxy, you know.”

“Yeah, I KNOW Cayde. Unlike you, I’m smart.”

“Heeey,” and he punches me on the shoulder.

He snuggles closer.

“Your turn, Daddy.”

“You sure it’s five thirty? I think you might be wrong.”

He looks out the window again, and he’s correct.

“Megadyptes forsteri is the Latin name for the king penguin,” I pronounce.

“Nope, Daddy. Mega- is that big penguin or something. King is something with an ‘A’?”


“How big was that penguin?”

“Eight feet.”

“Taller than you?”


Cayden asks me a helluva question, and we’ve already talked about Hitler and Guitane, Gandhi and Lincoln and King, so this is par for the course. Hell, last week we talked about Hitler being a vegetarian and his only having one testicle. We also talked about how Hitler was blinded by mustard gas in WWI and–not leaving behind the opportunity to talk about bodily functions–Cayde reminds me that Hitler was also infamous for his flatulent ways.

Cayde asks: “So if everyone that has died came back to life, how many people would be on the planet?”

This takes some math. 1.78 trillion?(I have facts) Not exactly sustainable if you think about it. We’re already tipping the globe at seven billion.

“Am I right, Cayde?”

He’s satisfied.

“Think you’re close, Daddy,” as if we’re both experts on censes and the tireless logging of the dead.

“Last question to you, Cayde,” and we snuggle closer.

Cayden pops up: “True or false: did Thomas Edison invent the light bulb?”

“False, Dude. You gotta do better. Don’t make me tell you about Tesla.”

It’s five thirty, we fall asleep again.

“Love you, Kid.”

“Love you, Daddy.”

Thomas Edison didn’t invent the light bulb; he simply made it better.




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