Is this kid a wisecracker or simply wise?

Zac Smith, reader columnist. Photo taken by
Zac Smith, reader columnist. Photo taken by The News Tribune

I love Henry. You would, too. He’s funny, intelligent and engaging. He has a killer smile and infectious laugh. I hear the ladies think he’s pretty cute, too. Henry is one cool dude. He’s also seven.

That last fact is important because it helps explain another quality Henry possesses: total honesty. He says what’s on his mind. He couldn’t care less what you or I think or even if he’s right. For example, a while back Henry sat across the table as my friend (Henry’s uncle) and I carried on a conversation. I didn’t realize Henry was listening until he pointed at me and proclaimed, “You sound like an office worker.”

My buddy and I chuckled because nothing could be further from the truth. At work I’m not even allowed in the office due to something called “woeful inadequacy.” With that in mind and still laughing, I asked Henry, “What does that even mean?”

An expression of equal parts astonishment and disgust came across his face as he looked me in the eye and gave his perfectly measured response. “It means. You work. In an office!”

As my buddy and I howled with laughter, Henry just shook his head, no doubt wondering how an adult unable to grasp such a basic concept has survived on his own all these years. To him it was so obvious. Never mind that it wasn’t true. It’s how he saw the situation.

As the day wore on, I found myself thinking about Henry and his refreshing honesty. True, you can get away with a lot when you’re clutching a juice box in your 7-year-old hands, but why are we less honest as we get older? At what age do we decide it’s not important to tell others our true feelings anymore? Why couldn’t I emulate Henry more?

Unable to come up with any solid answers, I decided to take a page out of Henry’s playbook and share my thoughts on a few matters. Some are about me, some are about life. But they’re all the honest truth:

My two biggest fears are snakes and letting people down, although if I had to face one I’d take the latter over the former. Looks of disappointment hurt but they don’t squeeze you to death and swallow you whole.

The best James Bond is Daniel Craig. Yes, he is. Go cry yourself to sleep on your Sean Connery pillowcase.

Speaking of crying, I bawl so hard watching “Rudy” I fear my neighbor in the unit next to me will pound on the wall and remind me we’re not allowed to have pets in the building.

I tell everyone my ancestors hail from Ireland but truth be told I have no idea. It’s an educated guess based on my middle name (O’Brien), my affinity for Jameson whiskey and the fact that I believe eating Lucky Charms in the morning gives me the ability to speak in an Irish accent all day. But I could be French. Or Jamaican.

I’ve learned strength is found in mercy, healing is found in forgiveness, and respect is found in admitting your mistakes and apologizing.

I think it’s a shame Bono from U2 still hasn’t found what he’s looking for. C’mon buddy, either lower your standards or tell us exactly what you want and we’ll help you find it. Constantly singing about it achieves nothing.

Love is a gamble, but in the end it’s worth it.

I believe one of the biggest lies laid upon us is Orville Redenbacher asserting his movie theater popcorn is as good as the real thing. That’s like saying bathing with Irish Spring soap is akin to running through a clover field on a warm summer night in Kilkenny, Ireland. It’s not. Trust me. After all, I may or may not be Irish.

Without a doubt, steak is the ultimate food, Mike Royko was the greatest newspaper columnist, and “Only You” by Yaz will always be the perfect love song.

I saw Henry last week so I pulled him aside and said, “I’ve learned a lot from you, Henry. You remind me it’s OK to speak my mind on any occasion, big or small, and I want to thank you for that.”

He stared at me and replied, “I don’t get it,” before running off to play with his friends.

Like I said, I love that kid.

Zac Smith is a water quality technician for Lakewood Water District and can neither confirm nor deny that Jameson helps his Irish accent more than Lucky Charms. He is one of six reader columnists who write for this page. Email him with comments, suggestions or what you think Bono is really looking for at 76petrolhead@gmail.com