So the other day we had a fireman come knock on our door. I answered it and all the kids swarmed around to see what was up. He told us that there has been a lot of arson in our neighborhood lately (we live just outside what is apparently one of the roughest parts of the city) and particularly there had been a lot of fires started just across the field at the neighboring farm. He was wondering if we had happened to see anything suspicious, or any shady characters â€œskulking aboutâ€ lately. I told him that no I hadnâ€™t seen a thing â€“ and he left me a little packet of materials about arson and his phone number in case we saw anything that should be reported.
And that was that. I took the packet inside and plunked it on the counter and went off to finish whatever it was I was doing. But later that afternoon I discovered that the children had been occupying themselves for the last few hours by planning what they would do if the fiendish person named â€œArsonâ€ showed up at our house. They had worked up all kinds of elaborate schemes with which to foil his plans â€“ and they told me that they even knew what he looked like because there was a picture of him in the packet of literature that the fireman had left.
I thought it was so funny that I postponed the crucial moment when I would have to tell them that there actually was no such person as Arson â€“ I let them finish telling me all the ways in which they would make him wish heâ€™d never been born and how heâ€™d think twice before messing with the Merkles again. But eventually I thought that I needed to clear up this misunderstanding. I explained to them that â€œarsonâ€ was an activity and not, as they were all assuming, a proper noun. I told them that itâ€™s like murder or stealing or cheating . . . itâ€™s something that you DO.
At which point, one of them said, â€œWow. No wonder his name is Arson then.â€