Into this troubling mix of Single-Minded Father, Ignored and Underappreciated Mother, Troubled, Self-Involved Teen, and Robotic Half-Men Sticker Books we add a fuse. We subsequently light this fuse. Then, we sit back like drunken hillbillies watching a crippled hog sink into a pool of mud designed for just that purpose.

The fuse in question is the Portrait of Pierre Renault. Rather, it is the discovery, by the scientist, of his son's extensive collection of Pierre Renault fashion photography. The lighting of this fuse is a subsequent misunderstanding between the father and teenage son concerning said discovery.

So, son, you sure have a lot of pictures of that guy. Who is he.

Pierre Renault, his hair is awesome or whatever.

Given the inflammatory nature of the son's response, we can hardly blame his father for the unerring path of infallible logic he then followed, led painfully by his scientific mind to the only interpretation possible -- My son is a FruityPie.

In the mud soaked hog that followed (i.e. shouting match), Teenage Boy failed to convince his father that his fixation on Renault's hair indicated an overwhelming desire to appear attractive (for eventual mating purposes) and that by studying the locks in question he might make himself irresistable to members of the opposite, repeat opposite, sex. Papa scienceheimer failed to appreciate the irony of his mistaken assumption and grounded the boy until further notice--a punishment which lasted approximately 3 hours.

The shouting had subsided almost completely (Underappreciated mom trying, unsuccessfully, to convince iron-willed father that he was being an ass) when Teenage Boy made a decision which would serve all 3 of his pursuits.

I will run away.

  1. My life on the road will give my hair a much needed wind blowing
  2. My adventures will translate well into prose and, if I desire, epic verse.1
  3. I might meet some girls.

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1 This wasn't the first time I'd heard this particular story, by the way. My father used it as a standard bedtime tale. His favorite variation on the standard was the introduction of actual verse from the young man's travels after the fight. They were always dry, dull, long, and intended to get me to sleep faster. For example, if I was still alert at this point in the story, he might expound on Teenage's physical exit from the house.


onto the bedside table the fellow
climbed in the manner of all young
men bent on escape from any of the various
ills which tend to befall the flower 
of masculine youth in whose sweating
grasp only photographs of young french
actors on horseback survive the breaching
of the window's grisly and transparent grin. 

The pain of 13 years imprisoned in the relative luxury
of a well-funded household free of any strain
save that of an evaporative father (which all have suffered
at one time or another) and a mother who listens
too intently to one's rehearsals of the opening
credits of various documentaries one dreams of making
and several which already exist, but are themselves
conspicously free of any opening credits 

Step quietly, young man in the throes of escape.
Smile carefully, and only after placing
sufficient distance between yourself
and the banging gavel of your antagonist 
who even now regales your mother with tales
of paternal success and compassionate remand. 

and so on. My father delivered these verses in a faltering cathedral wail perfect for Easter Vigils and ill-prepared choir recitals of old testament readings of faith and deliverence. Unfortunately, his purpose was (ostensibly) to lull his only son to sleep, and the Canticle of Escape failed miserably in this regard. I would usually blast my father with a few stage snores and he would leave me alone, pretending to believe I'd fallen asleep.