by jkatejohnston

1 August 2013

Dear Max,

I have a note here that says “Esther Williams. Solitaire. Crotchdad.” What can it mean?


We were fishing. Enzo peered into his yellow bucket filled with pond water and a freshly caught live little bluegill. (They’re beautiful fish.) “My bluegill swims just like Esther Williams.”

“How do you know who Esther Williams is?” said Teresa.

“I just know.”


I was showing Enzo how to play solitaire and I explained that it’s called solitaire because you play it alone. “That’s like totally French,” he said.

“How do you know solitaire is French?”

“I don’t know. The cards look French.”

(Come to think of it how do I know? I can’t speak three words of French. Well, it just sounds like it. Voltaire, Perrier, Derriere. But how did he know it?)

I tried to bring it up later. (I was so impressed by his sensitivity to language.)

“What made you think solitaire was French?”

“Dude, it was a lucky guess. Plus the cards just looked French.”


The three of us were down at Trout Creek. I was floating along in Enzo’s innertube, Enzo was on the rope swing, and Teresa was fishing for crawdads with a hotdog on a stick.

“I got one,” said Teresa. “He’s a biggie.”

I paddled over with the plastic colander and scooped up the crawdad as she slowly raised her stick. Then I balanced the colander, crawdad and all, in the curve made by my belly and legs and paddled back to the little island where Enzo had made a crawdad habitat (a hole filled with water). As I was paddling the crawdad was scrabbling around in blue plastic trying to escape, and then I looked down and the crawdad was half on me and half in the colander. I screamed and colander and crawdad went flying. I stayed on the innertube somehow. Enzo was delighted.

“What was it crawling toward, your crotch or your boobs?” said Teresa.

“My boobs.”

“If he’d been crawling toward your crotch he would have been a crotchdad,” said Enzo.

A few minutes afterward Teresa heard him saying to himself quietly, “Crotchdad…crotchdad.”