“Wouldn’t you like to ride that roller coaster?” Jim asked as they drove past the fair. “It looks amazing.”
“I’m sure it would be buckets of fun,” Grandpa said.
“Fun doesn’t come in buckets, Grandpa,” Lynn said. “That’s silly.”
“It did when I was younger,” Grandpa said.
“Oh good, a Grandpa story,” Jim said. He shook his brother’s arm. “Neil, wake up. Grandpa is going to tell a story.”
Three sets of eyes turned to watch the back of Grandpa’s head. “Is everyone ready?” he asked.
“Carrie’s asleep,” Lynn said. “But she’s too little to really understand what we’re talking about anyways.”
“Don’t wake up Carrie,” Jim said. “She’s really grumpy when she doesn’t get enough sleep. It’s kind of scary.”
“Go ahead and start the story, Grandpa,” Neil said. “Please.”
“All right then,” Grandpa said. “Long ago, when I was a lad and the earth was young…”
“You make it sound like you’re as old as dinosaurs,” Lynn said. “That really can’t be true. People don’t live that long.”
“Well, sadly, I’m even older than dirt,” Grandpa said.
“How can you be older than dirt?” Neil asked.
“When I was young, the earth was still covered in packing peanuts, just the way they sent it from the factory. The dirt came later when everyone got busy and fell behind on washing up,” Grandpa said.
“Where did the dirt come from?” Jim asked.
“Out of nowhere, like it always does,” Grandpa said.
“Dirt is mostly made up of minerals and decayed things,” Lynn said. “And no one is older than dirt.”
“Let Grandpa tell the story, Lynn. We still haven’t heard about the buckets,” Jim said.
“Fine,” Lynn said. “But it’s not a true story.”
“Stories don’t have to be about things that really happened to be true,” Neil said.
“That doesn’t even make sense,” Lynn said.
“Shall I continue?” Grandpa asked.
“Yes,” Jim said. “Please do.”
“So, when I was a lad, no one liked to do anything. We all sat around and looked at each other when we weren’t out poking through the packing peanuts for something to eat. I once spent ten years digging a hole in a rock with my big toe for something to do.”
“And then what happened?” Neil asked.
“And then someone found the fountain of youth,” Grandpa said.
“Is that how you lived so long?” Jim asked.
“No, the fountain of youth doesn’t make you old.” Grandpa said. “Of course not. The fountain of youth made things fun.”
“How did that work?” Lynn asked.
“Well,” Grandpa said. “Fun used to be dispensed twice a month in buckets. You would pour it over the activities that needed it the most. Eventually it soaked in and people liked doing strange things like being scared or sitting around listening to noises.”
“People don’t like doing things like that,” Lynn said.
“Sure they do,” Grandpa said. “They ride roller coasters and go to haunted houses and tell scary stories. They put together strange contraptions made of metal and wood and people sit around and listen to the sounds they make. They call it music.”
“I guess when you say it like that,” Lynn said.
“Where are the buckets now, Grandpa?” Jim asked.
“They don’t need them anymore,” Grandpa said. “People know how to have fun.”
“Where is the fountain of youth?” Neil asked.
“I forgot,” Grandpa said. “Old people forget things all the time, you know.”
“Grandpa, you aren’t really that old,” Lynn said.
“How old are you, Grandpa?” Jim asked.
“Oh look,” Grandpa said. “We’re home. Everybody out. I’ll wake Carrie.” He never did answer the question.