"Mama, why is the sunset pink sometimes?"
I know, I know, that would have been a great opportunity for a science lesson in the hands of a competent parent.
"Well Danny" , I explained matter-of-factly, "The Sunset Company takes requests, and some days people ask for pink."
"The Sunset Company. Every state has at least one-we have two because we have two time zones. Anyway, every day people call up and place an order for what kind of sunset they want and the style that gets the most calls each day is what they give us."
"How do they make the sunsets? Is that even possible?"
"Well of course it is (roll eyes for effect) how do you think we get different types of sunsets? Gee whiz, I thought you knew about the Sunset Company."
"So how do they make the sunsets?"
"Easter egg dye, mostly. You know, those little tablets that come in the kit?"
"Well, they mix it with water in huge buckets, and then they hook up teenagers and dung beetles to pulleys and they drag the sunset colourings up into the air and dump it out just as the sun is setting on the horizon."
"How old do you have to be to work at the Sunset Company?"
"Fourteen, because you don't actually need to drive, though sometimes they ride the dung beetles."
"Can we call them now and request a pink sunset tonight?"
"Sure, but it is kind of late, and it will depend what other people wanted-you know, you're not the only kid in Nebraska asking for a particular sunset."
"How do they do it in other states?"
"Some states like Kansas automated their sunsets and they aren't as nice anymore. Nebraska bought some of their dung beetles. Then, we swiped a good part of their water and tried to stick them with the bill."
"Never mind. But yeah, handcrafted sunsets are nicer. OK, I'm going to call now."
(Go to phone, pick it up)
"Hello, operator? Get me the Nebraska Sunset Company-no, no, not the one in North Platte, I need the one in Weeping Water. Fine, fine, I can hold while you ring them. Yes, hello, I'd like to request a sunset. About 7 PM? Great, we'll be watching."
"Did you call them?"
"Yes, they said to look out the West window around 7 PM and you should see a rather pink sunset, but they had to mix in some orange because they were running low on dye."
Yeah, he totally bought it. I've spent the better part of the last two days answering questions about the Nebraska Sunset Company, and how much better the sunsets used to be before the government got rid of the old red food dye in the 70's.
I hope he doesn't grow up to hate me.