My youngest son is interested in the planets, and so we have a series of short books written for pre-schoolers that teaches him about each planet. Every night before bed we read some of these books, usually beginning with his favorite planet, Saturn, and then cycling the others in and out of the rotation. These books are filled with short facts that should not be comical in the least.
“Uranus is much larger than Earth.”
I’ve always pronounced Uranus with the long A sound. It is a pronunciation I’ve clung viciously to, refusing to be swayed to the short A sound just because part of my more familiar version is a homophone for describing someone’s posterior body part. When I am wearing my grown-up face, I say the word with all the conviction and apparent obliviousness that is appropriate so I don’t seem like a tittering child. But, on the inside, I titter.
A war for class and taste is being fought on the hills and valleys of my brain. The part of me that has a mortgage, job and life-insurance policy holds grim dominion over my actions and usually my words, but an inane man-child is entrenched deep in my broader psyche, and he thinks the word Uranus is hilarious.
“Uranus is very cold.”
A smirk plays embarrassingly at the edges of my mouth, and if you’re listening for it you can hear my voice twinge just a little bit. At that moment, my four-year-old who is enraptured by this information on alien worlds is the adult in the room.