Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Achilles' Heels Aren't Just for Greeks Anymore

We had an epic errand run today that ended with a very important (but not entirely useful) discovery. Rather than bore you with all the details of how we went to the grocery store to stock up, dropped off some mail in a mailbox, went to the Borders in Annapolis to get a reserve book which is the subject of an awesome podcast, traveled from there to Third Eye Comics to get my comics fix, wandered from the comic shop to Best Buy where Jacob could try out the drums, and ate lunch at Wendy's, I'll cut to the chase and say that I've discovered an Achilles' Heel for Jacob.

If you don't know and didn't follow the link above, ancient warrior Achilles was made practically invincible when his mother dipped him as a baby in the River Styx. The water made his skin impenetrable but, of course, his mom had to hang on to something while dipping him, so his heel did not get covered. He became a famous warrior surviving many battles till that literally fatal day when he was shot in the foot with an arrow, killing him.

Lots of other nearly invincible beings have similar weaknesses. Think of Frankenstein's Monster who, like the Scarecrow in Wizard of Oz, is afraid of fire. Or Superman, who goes haywire in the presence of Kryptonite. Or werewolves, who are hard to kill unless a silver weapon is employed. Or 1950's housewives, whose mastery of the kitchen can only be vanquished by the presence of a mouse.

What about Jacob? As we left Best Buy, I discovered that Lucy needed a diaper change (no, a poopy diaper is not his weakness). So rather than try to make it home, which would take 25 minutes, and rather than change her in the van, which was freezing cold, I decided we should go to lunch at the nearby Wendy's (no, fast food is not his weakness). Our first stop would be the bathroom for a quick and refreshing change. As we approached, Jacob shrunk back and asked if we could go in the ladies room. I told him we couldn't, and didn't understand why he was so reluctant to go into the men's room. Was he too used to going with mommy? Was he simply mistaken?

Then I heard the problem. Someone was drying his hands. The sound of hot air hand driers is often pretty loud and we could easily hear it outside that bathroom. Jacob is quite cautious about them. So I told him we could wait until the drier was done blowing. The guy came out and we had to wait another minute before going in. It was the standard minimalist men's room: one stall, one urinal, one sink, one hand drier. We got into the stall and I went to work. Someone else came in, did his business, washed his hands, and started up the drier again. Jacob paled. I told him we were safe in the stall and we would not leave until the drier stopped. As I finished up another guy came in and started it up again. So Lucy's clean diaper was in place for a while before we were ready to leave the men's room stall. Luckily, we did make it out and had lunch.

It's nice to know that Jacob has a weakness. The only problem is the lack of ways to exploit it. Really, we want him to be comfortable going into a bathroom. We want him to be able to wash his hands and not dry them on his pants. Further, the only real inconvenience was to me. Any suggestions on how to use this knowledge (other than writing a blog post, of course)?


  1. Wow, I wish I had an easy answer for this one. The only thing this makes me think of is when Hannah was tiny and terrified of dinosaurs in the closet when she was little (yes, instead of monster she substituted dinos). Tom got super creative and came up with a story about the friendly dino he knew who would look inside little children's windows so he'd be ready to protect them from the mean dinos. It worked. Over time. But the constant repetition turned it into a favorite bedtime story and the mean closet dinos were forgotten.

    Perhaps an epic tale with Jacob as the hero (or another suitable hero) against the evil hand blower drier?

    On another track of creatures with one fatal weakness, I can't wait to see what you think of The Reapers Are The Angels! Thanks for the link and kind mention!

  2. We haven't made up any stories with him yet, except for my wife making little picture books out of travel photos. We could make one called "Conquest of the Air Dryer." It would be fun to write. Maybe we can make an "e-book" edition and publish it here on the blog!

    I'm in the middle of a bunch of books, but The Reapers Are The Angels will probably preempt some of them, if not all of them.

  3. Can't wait to see what you think of it!

  4. I like the epic story idea! Maybe something about how the hand dryer blows away the big scary germs. Or if Jacob stands under it, all that air may charge him up for a heroic deed. Like being able to fly. Or Fists of fury? Or An Iron grip?