Dave Barry on Dinosaurs
from "Dave Barry's Greatest Hits"

Our son Robert spends a lot of time being a dinosaur. I recall the time we were at the beach and he was being a Gorgosau­rus, which, like Tyrannosaurus Rex, is a major dinosaur, a big meat-eater (Robert is almost always carnivorous). He was stomping around in the sand and along came an elderly tourist couple, talking in German. They sat down near us. Robert watched them.

"Tell them I'm a Gorgosaurus," he said.

"You tell them," I said.

"Gorgosauruses can't talk," Robert pointed out, rolling his eyes. Sometimes he can't believe what an idiot his father is.

Anybody who has ever had a small child knows what happened next. What happened was Robert, using the pow­erful whining ability that Mother Nature gives to young children to compensate for the fact that they have no other useful skills, got me to go over to this elderly foreign couple I had never seen before, point to my son, who was looking as awesome and terrifying as a three-year-old can look lum­bering around in a bathing suit with a little red anchor sewn on the crotch, and say: "He's a Gorgosaurus."

The Germans looked at me the way you would look at a person you saw walking through a shopping mall with a vacant stare and a chain saw. They said nothing.

"Ha ha!" I added, so they would see I was in fact very normal.

They continued to say nothing. You could tell this had never happened to them over in Germany. You could just tell that in Germany, they have a strict policy whereby people who claim their sons are dinosaurs on public beaches are quickly sedated by the authorities. You could also tell that this couple agreed with that policy.

"Tell them I'm a meat-eater," the Gorgosaurus whispered.

"He's a meat-eater," I told the couple. God only knows why.

They got up and started to fold their towels.

"Tell them I can eat more in ONE BITE than a mommy and a daddy and a little boy could eat in TWO WHOLE MONTHS," urged the Gorgosaurus, this being one of the many dinosaur facts he got from the books we read to him at bedtime. But by then the Germans were already striding off, glancing back at me and talking quietly to each other about which way they would run if I came after them.

"Ha ha!" I called after them, reassuringly.

Gorgosaurus continued to stomp around, knocking over whole cities. I had a hell of a time getting him to take a nap that day.