That’s what nerd said

There’s quite a bit of sibling adjustment happening ’round here. The kids have missed each other so much—more than I think either of them realized—but both have grown somewhat used to being the only kid in the house, and so we are seeing some natural jockeying for position now that they’re together again.

For Monkey’s part, I think he has blossomed in his sister’s absence; he is the beta to her alpha, and with alpha absent, beta has discovered that he can monopolize the conversation if he feels like it (neat!). He is much more assertive now than he was when she left, and Chickadee finds herself a little puzzled as to why she cannot just steamroll over him at the dinner table the way she used to. She is also finding that he’s more entertaining than she remembers; whether this is due to absence making the heart grow fonder, Monkey now being a fellow teenager, or Chickie being more tolerant (or some combination thereof), I have no idea. But I’ll take it.

What has NOT changed is this family’s penchant for 1) being inappropriate and 2) torturing each other. Um. Yay?

Monkey’s newest and most ardent love is Dungeons & Dragons. There’s a small group of nerdlings at Hippie School who play together, and for a while there, they had a college student who came in once a week to run campaigns for them, and that was ZOMG THE GREATEST, because he’s in COLLEGE, MOM, and HE KNOWS DRAGON STUFF. Unfortunately this Nerd Sensei has a schedule this semester which does not accommodate their weekly lunchtime game, and LO, A SADNESS FELL UPON THE LAND.

But my boy is nothing if not a problem solver: He decided he would take up the fine art of DMing (that’s Dungeon Mastering, or being the guy who runs the game) so that the group could continue to play. This means that although Monkey attends Hippie School 3 days/week and is taking classes online in addition to that, he now spends roughly 90% of his time planning campaigns. Because: PRIORITIES.

This also means that a significant portion of dinner every night is now dedicated to Monkey detailing various traps, monsters, and quest details with a high degree of glee and self-satisfaction. Because he takes this job SERIOUSLY and he is VERY CLEVER and because we love him, we try really hard to stay awake while he explains everything.

Well, Otto and I do. Chickadee tries to find ways to drive him insane. Stick to your strengths, after all!

A few nights ago he was just BURSTING to explain to us that he’s invented a new monster that will play a pivotal role in the next campaign. NO ONE HAS EVER INVENTED ONE BEFORE, he told us. Were we ready for this brilliance? REALLY READY? Check it: It’s an octoplatypus. Part octopus, part platypus.

Otto and I made the mistake of trying to be logical. Wouldn’t the platypus part drown in the deep sea, and the octopus part dry up and die on the land? How does this work? DOESN’T IT LOOK REALLY CREEPY? It was a good-natured discussion, though it was apparent that Monkey was losing patience with us and our lack of imagination.

Chickadee listened carefully, finally offering only this: “If it’s a combination of an octopus and a platypus, the name is wrong. You should call it an octoplatypuspus.”

Monkey was horrified. “IT IS AN OCTOPLATYPUS.”

“Puss,” Chickie added, quietly.

“NO,” he said. “That is DUMB. It’s an OCTOPLATYPUS.”

“Puss,” Chickie echoed, louder this time.


(Gosh, who could’ve seen THIS coming?)

Monkey attempted to continue with his story (because there’s a chamber! with two doors! and you have to roll a D20 to somethingorother whatsis!) without naming the creature very often, but every time he DID say “octoplatypus” there was a distinct “puss!” echo from across the table.

He tried to stay mad, but it really was funny. The more agitated he became, the greater glee his sister took in interjecting “PUSS!” at every appropriate juncture.

Finally, Otto cleared his throat. “Chickadee,” he said, sternly. “Stop it. I want to hear him say it and YOU DON’T SAY ANYTHING AFTER. Okay?”

She nodded.

Monkey declared, “OCTOPLATYPUS!”

“E is my favorite letter,” said Otto.

There was a pause, then three of us burst into laughter. “THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID!” gasped Chickie.

“I don’t get it,” said Monkey. Eventually I explained that “pussy” is sometimes used as slang for “vagina.” (And just in case you’re wondering, yes, that DID make me the villain of this scenario, somehow.)

“YOU ARE ALL VERY INAPPROPRIATE!” my son exclaimed. He was not wrong. Eventually we adults found our composure and explained that okay, we were all going to be appropriate, now.

But somehow, the octoplatypus(pus) is now living on in infamy. At random points throughout the day, one family member will say something—anything, really—and be followed by a quiet “puss!” from another family member. If that doesn’t evoke an appreciative snicker, someone else will add “that’s what she said.” It’s out of control.

“Puss” is the new family “gorgonzola.” I’ve got to find a way to make this stoppus.


  1. Korinthia Klein

    Regardless of what inappropriate name you give it, I think Monkey should draw the thing because I want to see it.

  2. RuthWells

    Thank you for the smiles today. For some reason, Monkey declaration of “YOU ARE ALL VERY INAPPROPRIATE!” reminds me of Owen Meany.

  3. Liza

    I hope Korinthia meant the octoplatypus.

  4. Kellie

    And as I read this, I”m humming in my head – Do be do beo do baaaaaaaah. Does the Octoplatypuspus wear a fedora? :)

  5. Liza

    Also, if Monkey shows interest in learning about online role playing games that are deeply nerdtastic, I have friends who run a very friendly, PG-13 MUX. (Text-based role-playing game. It is a great way to improve one’s writing, as well as all the nerdly fun.)

  6. Stimey

    I like you guys.

  7. kapgaf

    And does the octoplatypus(pus) have a duck bill at the end of each tentacle ? and I agree with @Korinthia Klein that Monkey should draw it so that we can know for sure.

    Our family silliness is puns on a theme – someone will be saying something serious about a subject (electricity, fish, whatever) and another one will start : “I’m really wired”, “stop plugging the subject” “cod you speak up” “you’re in the wrong plaice”…. The children love/hate it but started doing the same as soon as they were old enough.

    Enjoy yourselves, but tell Monkey that he musn’t drag-on or you’ll have to pussy foot around the subject…..

  8. Katie in Cali

    Sounds like the next James Bond villain female lead. Maybe this time she can slap him around!

  9. CuriousCat

    Poor Monkey. He was being so clever and you were all so inappropriate. Perhaps he’ll write the three of you into one of his campaigns; perhaps you three are thrown into a locked dungeon because of your “” and the only one who can save you is…………..i don’t know. Sir Monksley of Mirdom, great slayer of the Octoplatypus and other um, pusses? Well, I’ll leave the details up to him.

  10. Megan @ Mama Bub

    Nerd sensei. I love your family.

  11. Brenda

    Love this. Both the horrifying idea of a part octopus part platypus, and the inappropriateness.

  12. Leandra

    OMG, that made me snort laugh several times while reading it. What I”m really curious about though is whether there is some kind of natural progression from Minecraft to D&D. My son, who is 10, has been OBSESSED with Minecraft for the past several months (and still is) but he came home from school this week and informed me that he wanted to learn to play D&D. Is it some kind of subliminal message hidden among all those cubes?

  13. Little Bird

    I garauntee you that there is a conclave of nerds that would LOVE to take a new generation of nerdlings on campaigns. Had I known of younger kids that wanted to learn and play, I totally would have gotten my fellow nerds involved, you know, back when I played it.

  14. beth s

    For all the other readers with sons who want to start D&D I have a nerdtastic solution. We got the D&D based board game for xmas and have played it nearly 3 times a week since then. It is MUCH easier to start with and according to my husband, will build into understanding how to play actual D&D game. My son and I both love it. Plus, you can even play it with only 1 player.

  15. TC

    You lie. You do NOT want to make it stoppus. We can see right through you.

  16. MamaSpeak

    Female Bond Supervillians wear good lamé bikinis, picture please!

  17. Juli Ward

    It sounds like Otto told Chickadee to hush so that he could get his joke in!

  18. Mir

    That is exactly what he did. Cheeky.

  19. Amy-Go

    DAMN IT Ruth beat me to the Owen Meany comment. Puss!

  20. Tracy B

    O.M.G. I have never laughed so hard. And just a side note: I played Dungeons and Dragons with my cousin and his nerdy friends when I was a teenager and I can’t remember having more fun. The imagination just takes over—so I get Monkey’s new character. And because of the powers it has it’s able to live in the deep sea and on land when necessary. But the whole puss thing…I dunno what to say. I mean I’m sure there is a power it can obtain that will completely keep those away. :)

  21. Celeste

    I have a teenaged DM who runs games in our dungeon, er, basement, with his friends. I’m going to miss all the noise next year when they are off to college.

    It’s wonderful to see Monkey doing this. It’s a leadership role!

  22. nicole

    your family is awesomely inappropriate

  23. Jan in Norman, OK

    And, if you combined the octoplatypus(pus) with a flounder, you would have an octoplatyflatypus(pus).

    And, if the octoplatyflatypus(pus) was a really sharp dresser, it would be a nattyoctoplatyflatypus(pus).

    And, if the nattyoctoplatyflatypus(pus) talked a lot, it would be a chattynattyoctoplatyflatypus(pus).

    (Someone stop me….please…)

  24. Kana

    Awww, D&D and your darling youngest – a match made in nerd heaven. <3

    A sort of pedantic patience and love of rules/sense of propriety are the common characteristic of all the DMs I've ever met. (Most of the players, too.) There's just something about an elaborate-enough set of rules that bring comfort to a complex, arbitrary-seeming world…The faith that if you just have all the rulebooks, read them all closely enough, and bookmark the important parts in case there's a dispute later (50% of D&D is niggling over minutae), you will finally have control over part of your universe, and things will finally be done PROPERLY.

    From his reaction to pus-pus/pussE distractions, I'd say he was made for it. Poor little lamb; if there's ever a family that deliberately does things inapproriately, it's yours! Albeit hilariously – thanks for the great story!

  25. Rocky Mountain Woman

    HAH! I had to smile because my grandson goes on for HOURS about the games he plays, I have no idea what he means, but I just love that he wants to tell me about it so I smile and nod and act like I have a clue…

  26. Jenne

    I heart inappropriate! And just when I thought life couldn’t get much better than a 30-minute-trapped-in-the-car discussion with my 12-year-old daughter about erectile dysfunction, and why are the old men (who shouldn’t be having sex anyway) are ALONE in all the Viagra commercials? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of the product?

    Does this mean Monkey is over Minecraft? Cause my little Peanut Butter Cup was hoping they could play online – and she wanted to tell him how cool his Minecraft themed gift from Chickie is.

  27. dad

    And don’t forget the fisherman’s dream: A species made from the cross breeding of the leaping Coho salmon, sturdy Walleye and the tenacious Muskie. It’s called a Kowalski and is reported to be capable of learning to swim in less than a year.

    Put that in your Dungeon and smoke it.

  28. Genevieve

    Please read all of Jan’s to Monkey, Chickie and Otto!!!!!!!

  29. The Other Dawn

    Perfect! Just perfect! I don’t know how people who can’t be silly like this get through life. It must be very grim.


  30. Laura

    I read that and all I could think was that Octoplatypussy would be some new D&D Bond villainess. I CAN’T WAIT. Who would Bond be in that movie?

  31. Brigitte

    Ah, if only we’d had a Nerd Sensei in my youth, instead of a Dungeon”master” who barely knew how to play . .

    Oh, the inappropriate jokes we make when my warm and fuzzy, purring kitty is asleep on my lap!

  32. Kathy

    This made me LOL, and think of my own special version of son-dom! Our local pizza place is Pina’s … everytime my son suggests we go there, as in “Let’s go to Pina’s!” we all chant “PENIS?” It 1.) makes us all laugh hysterically; and 2.) makes him shriek “PEEEE-NAAAAAAAAS!” All in the name of FUNNY!

  33. Chris

    Oh going back to the other story made me think we hadn’t heard from your dad in a while so happy to come back and find him in the comments.

    I started watching old James Bond films as a teen during the Sunday afternoon re-runs. Having an extremely clean, no nicknames for anything or anyone upbringing – I totally missed the creative naming of the female characters. Was embarrassed later when someone laughed at me for pointing of the coincidence of an inappropriate name in a more recent bond film – i havd missed the theme up to that point.

  34. Amanda

    Wait, there are families that are appropriate? I mean, I suppose there are, but I always guessed those were the ones that had the adults that were no fun.

  35. not supergirl

    Inappropriate is my favorite.

  36. Zuska

    Come on over for dinner! Inappropriate is my family’s middle name. Right now, the number 69 is incredibly hilarious in our house. Especially when it is actually the correct answer to a random question.

  37. Jennifer

    I am not familiar with any of these games, but I have a son who is 7 who is in love with playing all kinds of sporting games, that then become the basis of what he speaks most of the time. I think it is so funny how families dynamics can be so different but yet so personal all at the same time.

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