Tuesday, September 25, 2018

"What Did They Do to You?"

          I was in the kitchen with my wife the other day, desperately seeking praise for something I had done that I thought was worthy of more fuss, when my wife looked at me and asked, “What did they do to you?” I can understand her asking. Something must have happened to me in my childhood that would cause the need to be lauded just because I helped her chop some chicken salad, she reasoned. It couldn’t just be because I’m a Middle Child.
          Of course I knew instantly who “they” were: my parents. But I don’t blame them for my chronic Middle Child Syndrome. Well, maybe a little. I mean, there is total agreement with my brother and sister as to who my parents’ favorites were. My brother was my father’s and my sister was my mother’s. Second place wasn’t as clear cut. I definitely got a bronze medal from my father, but I might have eked out a silver from my mother.
          Please don’t misunderstand. In no way was I mistreated by my parents. My brother and sister weren’t given things that I wasn’t. Other than attention. They weren’t awarded any special treatment by my parents. At least not that I’m aware of. My parents just didn’t have great favorite child poker faces. They were easy to read. Sure, there was that Middle Child poem my mother had taped to the kitchen wall in the house I grew up in. But I’m pretty sure that was just a decoy intended to throw me off.
          In order to avoid reliving this same problem with my own children, and especially my Middle Child, I have always been very careful to follow a very simple strategy. I simply act like I can’t stand any of them.
          By the way, I really am a very good chicken salad chopper.

Hear more at “Pay No Attention to this Podcast:”
My brother & sister confirm who were the favorites (at 17:50 mins)
A discussion of the Middle Child poem, and a rewrite (at 4:00 mins)

Friday, September 14, 2018

Nobody Gives a Crap.

Profiles in Middledom: #2 in a series, featuring Middle Children (real-life or otherwise) who have earned their place in the pantheon of birth order oblivion.

Required Reading: every
Middle Child's favorite
bathroom book.

     Middle Child Thomas Crapper is often cited as the inventor of the modern flush toilet. But lavatory historians will tell you, that’s a load of crap. While Crapper was a prominent London plumber who did do much to popularize sanitary plumbing in the 1800’s, he’s hardly the first to sit in the “Oval Office.” He was the first to display flushing toilets in a showroom and held three patents for water closet improvements, including the floating ballcock and siphonic flush toilet -- but none was for the flush toilet itself. (By the way, if you think the word Crap derives from his name, you’re shit out of luck. Crap is actually of Middle English origin, predating the creation of Thomas Crapper & Co. in 1861 by hundreds of years, so there’s no direct link -- just a too-good-to-be-true coincidence.)
His Royal Hiney-ness?: Well,
now you know why we call

it "the John."
     But fear not, Middle Child. Our flush with greatness remains intact, because it was another Mid Kid who lays claim to the porcelain throne. Sir John Harington was a godson of Queen Elizabeth I who liked telling risqué stories. (An early case of potty mouth, maybe?) As a result, he was banished from the court and exiled to a small town near, wait for it -- Bath. Can’t make this shit up.

"Going to the crapper" since
World War I:
American GIs

in England saw the name on
cisterns and used it as slang.
     During his time away, somewhere between 1584-91, Harington built himself a house and created the world’s first flushing toilet. When the Queen eventually forgave him and visited his house, she was so impressed with the invention, she had one installed in one of her palaces. Still, it took another 200 years of improvements for the idea to catch on. In the 1880s, England's future King Edward VII hired a prominent London plumber to construct lavatories in several royal palaces. Yep, you guessed it -- Mr.Crapper. And since I can’t resist making another toilet-related pun, the rest is shitstory.
     So the next time you use the "crapper" or the "John," you can do so proudly, knowing a Middle Child helped make it all possible. No ifs or ands. Just plenty of butts.

Friday, September 7, 2018

In the Beginning...

Ham: Noah's least favorite son.
     Feeling like the odd man out in the family is nothing new for a Middle Child. It’s been going on since the beginning of time. How do I know this? The Bible tells me so! It’s filled with many tales of the world’s original outcasts. Remember Ham, Noah’s Middle Child? Of course you don’t. According to the Book of Genesis, one day Ham finds Noah drunk and naked, so he tells his brothers, Shem and Japheth. His brothers avert their eyes and cover their father. So what does Noah do? He gets pissed at Ham and puts a curse on Ham’s son! Oh, that’s fair.

Being a Middle Child is the pits.
    And what about Jacob’s son, Joseph? With eleven brothers, he was one of many Middle Children in the family. In a very rare occurrence for a Mid Kid, he was also his father’s favorite, and given a many colored coat by his father to prove it. This did not sit well with his brothers. First, they stole Joseph’s gaudy garment, then they threw him in a pit and sold him into slavery. Nice.
Murder He Wrote: things don't end well
for the world's first Middle Child.

     Last, but definitely least, there’s Adam and Eve’s second son, Abel -- widely believed to be the world’s very first Middle Child. (According to the Bible, Adam & Eve had a third son named Seth. He was born when Adam was 130 years old. Go Adam. I know that sounds really old, but the Bible also says Adam died when he was 930 years old, so it’s all relative . He probably died blowing out the candles. But I digress.) Everyone knows the story of Cain and Abel, the world’s first case of sibling rivalry. In a nutshell, both brothers made sacrifices to God, Abel’s was favored over Cain’s, so Cain killed Abel. As a result, Abel holds the dubious distinction of being the world’s very first murder victim. And the Lord said, “Let the Middle Child treatment begin.”