It was one of those classic moments of parenthood: late last week, Betty, a tenth-grader, allowed it to be known, far too late, that her biology assignment is due this Tuesday (tomorrow).
The assignment: To make a realistic model of the human skeleton and label all the major bones.
Build a fucking skeleton. In three days. Go.
Wonder Woman bought some modeling clay and a spool of wire. Betty panicked and took to her room. The dogs barked helpfully. Freddie shrugged and took to his room too, to play Rock Band on his XBox 360 and irritate the hell out of the rest of the house. (More on this revolting phenomenon later; suffice to say if I never again hear "Black Hole Sun" while listening to out-of-rhythm clacking on a toy drumset, it will be far too soon.)
After talking Betty off the ledge, and forcing her participation with threats both mundane and dire, we started bending wire and kneading clay, muttering imprecations at the ridiculousness of the assignment ("I've got to make ten metatarsals out of this crap? What does a fucking metatarsal even look like?).
We just now finished. While the skull looks more like something from Olduvai Gorge than a recently deceased homo sapiens, it at least has a clearly labeled cranium, mandible and maxillus. The vertebrae are little cubical clay beads strung on a wire, rather than the incredibly complex cervical, thoracic and lumbar processes shown in the diagram we got from Wikipedia, but at least they get bigger farther down the spine.
I have instructed Betty, on pain of punishment, to turn in the assignment tomorrow
while reciting to her teacher the following verse, which occurred to me while I was trying to ramrod a clay model of an impossibly complex bone into something at least vaguely resembling its real-life counterpart:
Songs are made by fools like Elvis
But only God can make a pelvis.