5 For Friday: Go Ask Daddy About DaVinci Paintings, Salmonella Spritzers and Fishy Sensory Issues

My kids are, like, worldly.

Not worldly, in the sense that they eat caviar and listen to NPR. They know stuff. Or at least, they know stuff to ask about. Heavy stuff, like, art. And things that lead to salmonella. And inquiries of arachnid origin.

OK, so maybe that doesn’t make them worldly. But Elise did almost invent the iPhone, Marie organized a stamp-out-school-lunch petition, and Grace learned to play the recorder with the wrong hands in the wrong places, and re-learned it all to put her right hands in the right places.

These are the kids who wondered about horses’ safety in water polo, didn’t know San Francisco was in California, and laid down with me to watch a movie on the couch, then asked, “dad, why is everything sideways?

“Because you’re sideways, lovey.”



Let’s get to questions.

1. Where is the Mona Lisa?

She’s all the heck over Pinterest, as a frazzled-haired teacher with bugged-out eyes, a toothy rendition titled “Mona Teetha,” and even a picture of her with milk jug in hand and milk mustache, captioned, “Got Milk?” The painting has been stolen and had acid thrown on it over the years.

Because this Leonardo Da Vinci painting is so famous, it’s often parodied and targeted. This is not unlike Beethoven’s ninth symphony, final movement, which has been used to pimp everything from Bruce Willis movies to fiber products for regular bowel movements.

The actual painting, oil on poplar, circa 1503-1519, is on permanent display at the Musee de Louvre in Paris. If you don’t want to mess with the French, you can always download this Mona Lisa pumpkin-carving pattern I found online.

2. How do people comment on your blog?

With disdain, disappointment and malice.

Not true. My commenters are very considerate, and I appreciate every single one. There’s widget thing I can add that creates a whole new set of fields for comments, but it seemed kind of complicated. I want to keep it simple. All they have to do is enter their name, their email address (which is never shared), and if they want, a link to their own blog or website.

Unless you’re the two Russian spammers who have subscribed to my blog. I know them by creative usage of the English language and lots of links to shady websites. Prevyet, comrades!

3. Do people put raw eggs in water, then drink it?

It’s a boneless chicken spritzer.

Get it? Boneless chicken?

OK. Eggs have lots of carbs, and are a good source of protein and good fat. When you cook an egg, it lessens those nutritional values. You know, like raw vegetables, which are better for you when you eat them raw. You get all the benefits that nature intended for the chicken embryo.

But because nature doesn’t care for those who eat chicken embryos, nature invented salmonella.

Let’s stick with scrambled egg burritos, shall we?

4. Are tarantulas poisonous?

I think most people don’t leave them on their skin long enough to find out.

When you have hairy legs and big fangs, you don’t make many fans. Luckily, I have no fangs. Tarantulas are disgustingly venomous: They stalk their pray, leap on it, and sink their hollow fangs into it. The venom liquefies all its prey’s guts. Voila: It’s bug stew, a la tarantula.

Tarantulas get a bad rep from being big and creepy, and liquefying bugs’ guts, but unless you’re allergic, a tarantula bite is no worse than a bee sting.

5. Do fish have ears?


Fish have ears inside their heads, which is sort of like having an umbrella in your car when it starts raining while you shop. Kinda useless. Fish instead use lateral lines on their sides to sense changes in water pressure. I kind of wish people had these too, or at least you girls did, when you play soccer.

Only, your lateral lines can tell you when a kid from Mt. Pleasant or Odell is bearing down on you with cleats high. Can you imagine? You’d be all ducking and weaving and making kids miss when you had the ball. Oh wait … you do that already. Maybe you already have lateral lines.

Just don’t grow any hollow tarantula fangs, and we’re good.


  1. This is soooo funny!

    “But because nature doesn’t care for those who eat chicken embryos, nature invented salmonella.”

    I actually laughed out loud, under the dryer in my fancy-schmancy hair salon. Everyone looked at me. It was worth it.

    1. You’re the best, Renee, and thanks for the tweet love, too.

      I think I might have read that salmonella line in a science book – or I could have made the whole thing up. Either/or.

      Love the image of you in the fancy-schmancy hair salon reading that, ripping out a good laugh, and having the snooty women around you look down their noses at you, then back to the pages of New England Home magazine.

      Did I mention you’re the best?

      1. You did. And I am. We are. 🙂

  2. anotherjennifer says:

    I’ve seen the Mona Lisa in person. Not quite sure why the fascination.

    You know what’s weird. My 4 year old just asked me about whether or not tarantulas are poisonous. I am so stealing your answer. Thanks!

    1. She’s kinda like Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson to me – I just don’t see it. I think it’s about the details of the landscape behind her, not sweet LIsa.

      Quick story: A former sports editor boss of mine took the staff to the UNC Greensboro soccer complex for a meeting. We stood in the stands, and he stood against the railing, boring us with whatever he had to talk about. I don’t even remember.

      The women’s soccer team started warming up behind him. Then, they each began shedding their t-shirts and continued to work out in their sports bras.

      All the while, he kept talking. He probably felt the captive audience hung on his words, not the action and spandex behind him. Sometimes, it’s just about the scenery.

      Oh, and you don’t even have to credit me on the tarantula answer. Just use it and look all cool.

  3. I love these posts! So funny and informative at the same time. Your comrad buddies keep life interesting I’m guessing. Can’t wait until next Friday!

    1. Thanks! I try to avoid boring and misleading as much as I aim for funny and informative. I think my comrades are one male, one female, and I imagine them as brutally handsome and strikingly beautiful, sent by KGB to spam my site, but unable to fulfill their duty because they’re laughing about salmonella.

      See you next Friday! (Well, Tuesday, too. I hope).

      1. Of course on Tuesday! I am sure you are correct about your Russian friends. You know in a way this makes you somewhat like Rocky or Bullwinkle though I’m not quite sure which yet 😉

      2. I was hoping you’d remember Tuesday. I imagine them in a high-tech underground bunker, assigned to sabotage my blog, but instead of spamming me hard, they’d just laugh and wish they were in America eating cheeseburgers.

        I’m definitely Bullwinkle in this scenario.

  4. AnnMarie says:

    Tarantulas scare me so it’s good to know that their bite is no worse than a bee sting but liquifying bug guts? Yuck! Speaking of comments on your blog…I have sucked it up and I’m sorry. Between school ending, camps beginning and a small vacation, I am soooo far behind. I’ve missed your blog! My kids have asked me a ton of times and I always say, “Good question.” Now I have an actual answer. Thank you. 🙂

    1. I should have also included that the hair on a tarantulas legs and back, if they come off on you, cause incredible itchiness. So, there’s that. You seat’s been saved here while you were away, and I even fluffed the pillows and left various chocolates stashed in the seat cushions. I knew you’d be back.

      Life definitely gets in the way. I am catching up too – I vowed to visit every site of contributors and commenters who were part of the 6 Words project the first time. That in itself was awesomely overwhelming.

      My kids now ask me a question, then wonder, “how long until we see the answer on your blog?”

      Welcome back. Now I need to get to your place!

  5. Letizia says:

    I always love the titles of your posts; they make me smile 😀

    1. SEO be damned; I’d rather induce a smile than entice a Google spider.

      (p.s. Google spider, if you’re reading this, I’d probably like to make you smile, too. Unless you’re a tarantula trying to turn my guts into soup.)

      Thanks Letizia! Now, let’s work on pairing up pop-up libraries with pop-up pizza.

  6. Tamara says:

    It would be cool if you could be a guest father in our house for all of the questions the three-year-old asks. And something tells me you’d answer her, “What is prayer?” and “Who is Jesus?” better than I do, because as those questions clearly imply, she has no religious education at all. And if she asked me about tarantulas, I couldn’t keep the disgust out of my voice. It happened with snakes once and I think I got her scared of them even when they’re nice!

    1. Guest fathering – I’m all for it. It’s all contingent on the menu and snacks arrangement, of course.

      I think some people have that sound of disgust when they try to answer the religious questions, too! Religion and tarantulas give a lot of people the shakes. I’m no preacher, but I try to, when the subject is religion with these kids (and my readers), to focus on:

      1) Faith, above denominational restrictions or judgement;
      2) The lessons of Jesus’ life – he tells a good story, always has a great comeback, and is the ultimate in wisdom, patience and compassion. Who wouldn’t want their kids to know about a dude like that?

      One more thing: So much emphasis is placed on his birth and death, and not enough on all the words he said in between. I believe he’d have a kick-ass blog.

      Boy, I’m wordy today in my responses.

      The snake thing is tough, because as you’re trying to see if it has a rattle or diamond shapes on its back or a triangular head, it might already have its fangs sunk into your calf. I don’t cut off snakes heads, but I do give them plenty of elbow room (for a creature with no elbows).

  7. Kimbra says:

    Let me even think I see a tarantula and I would have a heart attack before finding out if they even bite.

    Loved the “do fish have ears? My littlest ask this all the time along with do birds have ears

    June is Hydranencephaly awareness month – help spread the word

    1. I know – they just make a statement by being there, you know?

      I wonder if fish and bird kids ask their parents, “what are those big things hanging off the sides of mammals’ heads?”

      I hope that everyone who reads this post will also click on the link to your site, to learn more about Hydranencephaly, and also to see what an awesome writer and mother you are, too.

  8. laurie27wsmith says:

    As always a great post, I can see this through the years, it will be ask coach granddaddy. Love the story on the women’s soccer team, priceless. As to the Mona Lisa I think anything that Da Vinci created would attract attention, there’s probably a shopping list hanging on someone’s wall that would fetch a million or two. It would have little doodles scrawled at the bottom, probably smiley faces but with some patrons face on it.Tell the girls not to worry about tarantulas, we have a ‘White Tailed spider’ here and its bite causes your flesh to rot around the bite area. It has been known to be fatal and people have lost hands and feet, (not to be confused with mislaid hands and feet). nasty little critters. Once again, very entertaining.

    1. Thanks, mate. I’m in no rush to be coach granddaddy, but I’ll gladly take the post. I wish I had video of the soccer practice.

      I think anything John Lennon wrote on will fetch $5,000 at least. I’d pay at least $5 for your shopping list, though, Laurie.

      We have the brown recluse and black widow. You have the white tailed spider? That’s half the box of crayons, and a lot of venom. I don’t know what will happen with the blue and green spiders, though.

      Glad to see you here as always, friend.

      1. laurie27wsmith says:

        Yeah there’s no big rush to fill the grandpa vacancy, although I am one ‘d rather watch the young ladies play soccer. That shopping list was around the other day, must have misplaced it. We also have the red back spider, cousin of the black widow. then there are a multitude of others, Trapdoor and Funnel web, both nasty bloody things. There’s plenty of green ones, tiny little things oh and The Huntsman, not venomous but when they land on your face in the middle of the night you don’t care, the list goes on. Looking forward to your next post Eli,

  9. katbiggie says:

    Wow. I actually learned a lot from this. Most importantly that I no longer need to be deathly afraid of Tarantula bites (because they are so prevalent in SC!!) I actually just read in a book with my son the other day about fishes ears on the inside of their heads. Oh wait, that was a book about snakes. Snakes’ ears are also inside, so they smell with their tongues. My six year old knew that. But he also knows what “oviparous” means and had to teach me.
    Glad Another Jennifer led me to your blog. You’re fun.

    1. It’s like, educational, huh? I had no idea tarantulas lived in South Carolina – I was thinking the Amazon forest. I wonder if they get as far north as Fort Mill.

      Animals are strange – smelling with tongues, hearing with lateral lines. What’s next, sneezing with toes and burping with belly buttons?

      Oviparous – I think I had that on a salad in a Greek restaurant once. I don’t think I liked it.

      We’ll have to send Jen a pack of bacon to show our appreciation. Well done, Jen – glad to have you here (and to have found your blog, too) Kat!

  10. Rorybore says:

    I once ordered a tequila sunrise, thinking I was all cool and trendy…..only to discover the “sunrise” was a raw egg in the drink. And I thought I’d have trouble getting the tequila down.
    of course I drank it. defeat is not an option in front of your drunk dorm mates.
    A friend of mine had a pet tarantula and we were sitting watching a movie one night and the spider was on his lap. I kept seeing him flinch every few minutes and finally asked “is it biting you?” he just calmly said “yep. movies’ a little loud”. What the…??? The thing must have bit him 20 or 30 times thought the course of the movie. he was unfazed. I never went back.

  11. I always thought tarantulas were poisonous…still, I don’t want one anywhere near me! Your posts are quite informative! 🙂 I think we all like comments on our blog…I do love Comment Luv though. It makes it very easy for me to click over and visit the commenter, which I like to do. However whether someone has something like that or not has no bearing on whether I comment on another blog…I comment on blogs I like, period.

    1. I don’t even like the idea of the little hairs get stuck on you and making you itch. These questions are so good, I need to make sure I give them their due.

      I don’t even know enough about Comment Luv to make a judgement about it. what’s the one everyone hates? I’ll just stick to my standard generic one.

  12. Loved the tongue in cheek style of yours as you write of such interesting topics. Your post has allowed me to wonder about aspects which I would not think of normally. So thank you.


    1. Tongue in cheek is the only was I know, brother. if I can make just one person wonder about aspects they would not think of normally, I’ve done my job.

      Your blog’s pretty deep – look forward to getting into it.

  13. Rosey says:

    LOL on the boneless chicken funny. 🙂

    I’ve seen the Mona Lisa in person and it was small!! With all of the attention, I expected it to be far bigger, not sure why. Atrocious the attempts that have been on her painted life, isn’t it? Makes me shake my head and wonder what people are thinking.

    1. Glad someone got it!

      Yeah, I think I pictured the Mona Lisa at least as big as the Velvet Elvis. She gets more shots taken at her than Amanda Bynes lately.


  14. That was wildly random, all my kids ask about is food and music. My mom used to have a Mona Lisa in the house and she scared the crap out of me. Her eyes followed me down the hall and I used to spray her with bathroom cleaner. It was a great day when mom finally took her down.

    1. All *I* ask about is food and music. OK, food.

      Holy crap, you had the Mona Lisa in your house?? Maybe your mom was that French art thief. And you were the one who poured acid on her!

      You’re more famous than I thought, Julie.

  15. Tricia says:

    The questions are just starting here with the three year old and I’m saving your answers. Though I love Tamara’s guest daddy idea. Because I don’t plan to do any spider research to answer those ones!

    1. There ought to be a guide to kids’ questions – I’d be happy to write it, or, as Tamara suggested, serve as the guest daddy (especially if there’s something good for dinner).

      Toss any spider questions my way … I’m getting a few of those, as well as about piranhas, and, get this, “can a woman get pregnant if she’s not married?”

      This’ll be fun.

  16. Too funny! Ive seen the Mona Lisa in person and I didnt think it was as big of deal as people make it. lol

    1. Thanks! Mona Lisa’s as overrated as Paris Hilton (although I’ve always had a soft-spot for her. Paris, that is).

  17. Boneless chicken spritzer…I’m way too old to dare someone to drink one, but I can’t think of any other reason to say “boneless chicken spritzer”, and I really want to say “boneless chicken spritzer” to someone sometime!

    1. There is absolutely no age restriction on saying “boneless chicken spritzer.” I checked. It’s a good thing, because if there were an age restriction, I’d probably be in violation.

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