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My Son
by Peter L Oughton

I love my son dearly, although I am bound to admit that my verbal reaction upon seeing him moments after his birth (“Good heavens, he’s bloody ugly!”) pleased neither the midwifery staff nor, indeed, my wife.
In his favour, I do have to say that he certainly improved for a bath and a hair wash and, I am pleased to report, developed into a handsome chap.
At the risk of sounding like the stereotypically proud father, one of the things that I have always loved about my son is his inquisitive nature, which manifested itself at an early age.
Let me give you an example of this inquisitiveness.
Many years ago, when my son was around six years of age, my wife and I took him to the coast for the day and, most unfortunately, a bee stung him right in the middle of his chest. The sting developed a pinkish hue and, indeed, at a distance, could even be mistaken for a third nipple.
You may be shocked to learn that I did consider changing his name to Scaramanga but, by somewhat painful means, my wife dissuaded me from that potential course of action. With the benefit of hindsight, that was probably a wise move on her part!
Anyway – what to do about this beastly sting?
Fortunately, I had read about bee stings and how, in an emergency, one might seek to alleviate their effect. Accordingly, I very carefully removed the embedded stinger, sucked out the horribly bitter venom and then dabbed the affected area with tea from a flask, which acted as a makeshift astringent.
Job done – one seemingly contented son and one mightily relieved father!
Shortly thereafter, I was concerned to see my son looking very detached and thoughtful, and wondered what might possibly be wrong. Was he not satisfied with my amazing piece of first aid?
In response to my enquiry, he asked if it would be OK for him to pose a question about bee stings. I assured him that I would do my utmost to answer his question, provided, of course, that it did not defeat my limited grasp of the subject.
He looked at me intently and said, “Well, after the bee stung me, you pulled out the stinger and sucked out the venom.”
“Yes, that’s quite correct”, I replied, wondering what could be coming next.
After a brief pause, and accompanied by a look of mild embarrassment, he said, “So what would have happened if the bee had stung me on my willy?”
I thought for few moments, and then, with measured paternal gravitas, replied, “Well, my boy, let me assure you that that is when you find out who your true friends really are.”