When the twins were born, I was delighted with the outcome. Not only did he have his son, Tyler Nathan Mall, but now another daughter, Meredith Susanna Mall. They probably wouldn’t bond together as the sports team I had imagined, but he was happy nonetheless. When the twins arrived on March 10, I was so excited he rented an airplane to fly a banner over the city, announcing their birth. While the world wasn’t exactly watching, I still had enough notoriety to pull off such a stunt.

“Sometimes I go to extremes,” he admitted, when asked about the event on a local TV newscast. “But I can’t help it. My family is now complete. Every significant event in my life has been a celebration, and I won’t let this one pass without notice either.”

The airplane stunt was not the only effort perpetrated by I at the birth of the twins. I had also taken out a full two-page spread, one for each of the twins, marking the event in Rolling Stone and even a few UK and European music magazines as well. One would think he was trying a comeback in the music press. “Oh, no. I’m out of the music business for good,” he insisted to another reporter. “This is just another big event in the life of I Mall. Once upon a time, I didn’t have to go to such extremes to get notice, notice followed me. But these days, my family and I live a quiet life, and for the most part, like to keep to ourselves. I’m just very excited, and felt that I needed to tell the world. Perhaps someday, my kids will be as famous as I once was; perhaps I still am,” he winked.

Angela took I’s renewed notoriety in stride. She had seen him undergo these sudden transformations from mega-star to simple family man many a time over the course of their marriage. I was a widely swinging pendulum that never sat still and explored many of the opportunities that he was able to imagine. “At least he’s not doing drugs,” she confided to her sister-in-law Emily. “That was his darkest moment, and it wasn’t even intentional. He was beside himself with grief, embarrassment and had reached the bottom of the pit. He just didn’t know what he was doing.” She was referring to the infamous “suicide incident” in which it was widely reported that I had taken his own life. “With my help, he pulled himself out of the doldrums and has been a good man ever since. Yes, he does go a bit overboard sometimes,” indicating the airplane and magazine ads, “but he means well. What’s wrong with spreading joy?”

Emily agreed, “I only wish Spike was as joyful as I. His stint in ‘the joint’ (as he calls it) during his teens is still eating at him, even though it produced a good outcome. He learned to play drums from that experience. And that led to him being pretty famous on his own, as well. I’m afraid that the public eye was not the spotlight he sought, though. His time at the juvenile hall was a great embarrassment to him, and he lives under the constant fear of it being revealed, even though it was years ago.”

“Even I doesn’t know about it,” Angela admitted. “To this day, he just thought Spike was living at his grandmother’s house for two years. I’s a smart guy, but sometimes the obvious passes him by.” Angela and Emily both giggled.

“Spike took a long hiatus from music, as you know, but I’ll bet you didn’t know that he’s working on a solo album, did you?” Emily revealed.

“That is news!” declared Angela. “Drums and what?”

“Drums are the focus, but he’s exploring all kinds of rhythm instruments as part of the project. He’s calling it Spike that Rim Shot. I truly hope he comes up with a better name. That one is just awful!” The ladies enjoyed another round of laughter.

The laughter woke Tyler, and soon Meredith was joining in the ruckus. “They just have to do everything together, it seems,” complained Angela, lightly. “You would think they were joined at the hip. Even their poop schedules seem to be in sync. I helps out sometimes, but he draws the line at diaper duty. Can’t really handle the smell.”

“One thing, I’ll say,” Angela continued. “He’s not into roughhousing with them just yet. Of course, they’re only six weeks old, but with Chrissy’s broken arm a couple of years ago, I don’t think he wants to takes any chances. I’ll bet that changes once they are old enough to start playing some sports. I was really excited to be able to do that with them someday. Chrissy’s been quite a helpful one, though. She loves playing the big sister role, and she doesn’t mind the messy diapers. She can’t quite fasten the pins, but she loves to rinse them out and watch the ‘poopie’ go down with the flush.”

Both of them enjoyed a good laugh at that one, while they together changed the twins’ diapers.

Six months later, I was restless and troubled. “The twins are crawling all over the place, and even making some attempts to stand up. Before long, they’re going to be walking, running, sprinting everywhere. I’ve got to baby-proof the whole house again, before it’s too late!”

I’s knack for exaggeration often motivated him to do good things. His heart was in the right place, even if a review of the situation did not call for such extreme action.

“First up, I’m going to built a six foot fence completely around the property. That way, they won’t get out into the road and get hit by a passing car.”

Angela noted wryly, “They’re not dogs, you know. They don’t just dash wherever they want. Even when they are old enough to run and play, and that’s going to be a couple of years at least, they are built in with some common sense. Unless, of course, they inherited the lack thereof from their father.”

“Very funny, ha, ha. I’m just saying you can’t be too careful. OK, maybe a six foot fence is a bit extreme, but we can go with a nice brick and stone wall. It’ll be decorative and functional at the same time.”

“And, who, pray tell, will see this project to completion?” Angela asked.

“I’ll do the job, you just watch!” I stated, firmly.

Three months later, as the Christmas holidays were approaching, the half-completed fence was not providing any protection from the wild masses, nor protecting the near-toddlers from the ravages of rushing traffic. Angela complained, “You promised you’d see this one through, and I’m not seeing any progress. Should I call in the Dads again to save your bacon?”

I hung his head. “I guess I do need help. I’m lucky our dads like to do this kind of stuff. I have the enthusiasm for the job at the outset, but can’t seem to make my way through the finished product. Give them a call.”

A few days later, the “crew” was at it, shoveling a new trench for the cement base, building the pillars and setting the stones between. In a matter of three days, the fence project was completed. Henry added some of his own ideas to it, including electrical outlets so that a string of Christmas lights could be lit up during the holidays. Henry had also designed an area where a Christmas tree could be mounted at each end of the fence. It was simply a round chamber, sized to fit a tree trunk up to a reasonable size, and of course, electrical outlets to support the Christmas lights. Henry had long ago learned his lesson about electrical issues and made sure the entire setup was up to code, and hidden from view and tampering. He was proud of his achievement.

“This will last you for years, long after the youngsters are grown. And, it can be used for other decorations year-round,” Henry stated.

“Other decorations?” I inquired. “I don’t see anybody putting up any else during the year, except for a flag on the holidays.”

“Oh, I’ve got a place for the flag as well,” Henry explained as he pointed out the location. “But I’m thinking you could observe the other holidays in much the same way as you decorate for Christmas. Put up colored lights at Easter, red, white and blue lights for the Fourth of July, Orange and Black lights for Halloween. Maybe even some decorative flags to indicate the season. You never know. It might catch on.”

I was a bit wary. “The neighbors would run us out of town on a rail. Even I hate to see it when someone still has their Christmas lights up in the middle of January.”

“Go ahead, try it and see. Right now, Christmas is the obvious choice, but when St. Patrick’s rolls around next year, put up some green lights for a couple of days. It will be festive. You can even invite the neighbors over for some corned beef and cabbage. That will win them over. Use that picnic area we built. The weather will be nice, and it’s designed to be used year round.”

“A picnic in March? That seems a little extreme. How about nice party indoors?”

“No believe me, a picnic in March would be perfect. You can’t always count on the weather, but I’d say there’s better than a 50/50 chance that it’ll be right. ‘March comes in like a lion, and goes out like a lamb.’ We’ll be sure to catch the lamb part. Hey, maybe a nice little lamb roast to go with that corned beef. Mmm. Sounds tasty!”

I had his doubts, but also knew his father’s extreme visions had something to offer each time he’s had them.