I Asked My Son What He Wanted to Be When He Grew Up and He Said, “The Eiffel Tower”

By Ron Riekki

I, of course, encouraged him to be anything he’d like, thinking the Eiffel Tower wish would subside, but even into his teens he kept saying he was going to become the Eiffel Tower.

We took him to Paris, showed him the great Alexandre Gustave barbed wire contraption of France, but he just stood there all day in the cold sun, memorizing every inch of its iron. I told him it was just a bunch of Xs standing on each other’s shoulders trying to reach up to heaven, but he kept silent, as silent as the Eiffel Tower.

My son kept growing.

At one point in high school, he was seven-foot tall. I told him he could be in the NBA one day, that he could play in Cleveland with LeBron. He said he wanted to be in the Champ de Mars one day. He wanted people to play on him.

In college, my son was twelve-feet tall. When he walked down the street, he became a respectable parade. He once was so hungry that he ate our refrigerator, the entire refrigerator.

When he graduated, he was twenty-feet tall. Then he stopped growing.

I told him he would have to get a job, that he needed to settle down.

He moved to northern France. I’ve lost touch with him.

A relative sent me a postcard of the Eiffel Tower, written on the back, Is that him?

Maybe it is.

I visited it. I flew to Paris. I stared up at my son, standing there, the thermal expansion of his side facing the sun, and I felt proud and hungry and tired.

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Ron Riekki‘s books include U.P.: a novelThe Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book), and Here: Women Writing on Michigan’s Upper Peninsulahttp://msupress.org/books/book/?id=50-1D0-3479#.VKZ4kmTF-PU. His play “Carol” was included in The Best Ten-Minute Plays 2012, his screenplay The First Real Halloween was best sci-fi/fantasy screenplay for the 2014 International Family Film Festival, and his short story “The Family Jewel” was selected for The Best Small Fictions 2015. Twitter: @RonRiekki.


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