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Family Guy: Sammy's first time away - and I still set the table for 6

"SOMEONE pass the potatoes," I announce. "You know what we should get?" says Sammy, examining a bit of dinner on the end of his fork and using the bridge of his nose as a telescope.



Of course, I haven't a clue, but it's not really a question when it comes from the second youngest of our four and purveyor of all contained in a lifetime's worth of Ripley's Believe It Or Not books.

"A suction tube that takes your socks off," I offer, "then fires them in a rocket-propelled capsule directly into the bin?"



Conveyor

"No," says Sammy, but cocks his head in a way that shows the idea is not unworthy of consideration.

"A head prop, so you can take your elbow off the table and eat with both hands?" guesses my wife, using her chin to press an invisible button in the air that makes Sammy sigh, roll his eyes and collapse his arm all at the same time.

"A trapdoor under Sammy's chair?" a brother lobs in helpfully.

"No," Sammy says, depositing the contents of his fork onto a slice of bread and rolling it into a tube, "one of those conveyor belts you get in a Japanese restaurant. Then you'd never need to ask anybody to pass anything," he chortles, cheeks full of food, revealing dimples.

"Can you just eat like a human, please," I sigh, unfurling an arm towards the potatoes and clicking my fingers.

Sammy's leaving on a school tour to Europe in the morning. He's never been away for a whole week.

"How will he survive?" I ask my wife later, "without breaking his teachers' minds?"

"I hope they know what they're in for," she says.

"The way he rolls his dinner up in a piece of bread," I say, pretending to look horrified. "And that noise he makes when he blows his nose, like a dog that's been in the pepper."

"The elbows on the table, the lolling head," says my wife in mock panic before looking out the window and adding: "He's going to miss his birthday."



Birthday

The next day, Sammy fidgets on the front porch next to his packed bags.

When I go to hug him goodbye I'm suddenly surprised at how bony he is for someone who's able to fit as much food in his mouth in one go as he can.

"The world record..." he'd once tried to explain through a face full of coconut creams -- and I wish I hadn't put my fingers in my ears for the end of that one now, as I wave the car off through the rain.

"We'll have your birthday when you get back," I shout, suddenly remembering.

I go upstairs and check his room. His brother who he shares with has already kicked the mess over to Sammy's side and is now downstairs blissfully hogging the PlayStation.

That night I forget and set the table for six. "Maybe we should fling food all over the floor where he usually sits," offers his older brother. "It's what he would have wanted." The dog stares dolefully at the floor under Sammy's seat.

"Someone pass the potatoes," I say, rather half- heartedly. But there's nothing but the sound of munching and a scraping of cutlery on plates.

"A sushi-go-round," I think in the direction of Sammy's empty seat. "It's called a sushi-go-round."


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