Before I get started on the many and varied tales of this past weekend, I’m going to take a moment to direct you towards my latest gig. I’m really excited about this one, both because it’s a company I admire and because the writing is turning out to be loads of fun, so if you’d come by and visit me at the Iddy Biddy Blog and say hello, I would probably tell you how pretty you are. (Cliff Notes version: It’s a blog about going green for those of us “regular” folks who either cannot or will not immediately give up everything less-than-ideal.)
Okay. So. This weekend! Oh, how we laughed! Oh, wait. No we didn’t.
Look, this may be a little bit disjointed, as I got a phone call at 2:00 this morning and never really went back to sleep, so I’m currently running on PG Tips and, um… well, just the PG Tips, I guess. Hahahaha! See? Now I’m laughing!
It started last Thursday, when Chickadee came home from school sick. She rallied on Friday, and although she still seemed off to me, she no longer had a fever, and insisted that she felt fine. So we met up with friends at a local church for trunk-or-treating (I don’t know HOW this concept hasn’t caught on up in New England, because it’s brilliant—who wouldn’t want to just make a big loop from car to car to car in a church parking lot over hoofing all over the neighborhood?), after an ENTIRE DAY of Chickadee INSISTING she was FINE. And you know what happened, right? Fifteen minutes in, she was too cold, she was too tired, her stomach hurt, she didn’t feel good. (See also: Goes unpunished, no good deed.)
So we came back home and put the kids to bed
and ate our weight in candy, assuming that all would be well in the morning. In the morning, Chickie was still limp and whiny (though still fever-free, which was a little perplexing), and said she didn’t want to go with her dad (who was coming to take them to Atlanta for the weekend), and was generally pitiful. My ex arrived and we managed to jolly her along, and off they went.
That night they called to report that they’d hung out at the hotel and watched movies, and she guessed she felt okay.
While the kids were gone on Saturday, Otto and I decided to hit the local flea market. We have recently gotten it into our heads that we’d like to replace our kitchen table with a diner-style set—you know, the cracked-ice formica top on a chrome base, chairs with glittery vinyl, the whole thing. Of course, as it goes with anything even vaguely retro, if you want to buy it new you need to sell a kidney. But if you can find it used, well, it might be cheap. (Guess which one we’re hoping for?)
So we hopped into Otto’s truck, a 22-year-old Little Pick-Up That Could, which we use mostly for moving brush down back to the woods or for hauling stuff to the dump every now and then. In the year and a half that Otto and I have been married, this truck has broken down three times which I can immediately call to memory (maybe more), but lately it’s been running fine. (This is not a primary vehicle, by the way. Mostly it sits in the driveway and every now and then someone rings the doorbell and asks how much we want for it. Which is endlessly amusing.) We drove over to the flea market and parked and then were immediately sucked into the Flea Market Vortex.
We didn’t find a table and chairs—or anything, actually—but somehow we managed to spend several hours there. We had plans to watch The Big Game with friends, later on, so as we pulled out of the lot I called to make arrangements, and as I hung up the phone I waved my hand at the truck’s vents, which were drawing in an inordinate amount of dust, I thought, kicked up by the dirt road we were driving down.
Then we got on the main road, and instead of the “dust” stopping, it became a giant cloud. OF SMOKE.
“I’m going to pull over, here,” said Otto, cool as can be. “We seem to be having a little problem.” As he skidded to a stop off on the side of the road, he added, “We should probably get out.”
I was out the door and twenty feet away from the truck before he came to a complete stop. I have a strict policy about riding in vehicles which are currently on fire, and that policy is: OH HELL NO. (Otto’s policy on things that are on fire is to remain maddeningly calm, as we already know.)
Otto popped the hood and smoke billowed out, though there were no visible flames. After some poking and prodding (and after someone pulled off to offer us gas, which, um, thanks…?) he decided that some leaves and debris had gotten stuck down by the heating coil, and he poked and prodded some more and then took his three-quarters-finished soda out of the cup holder and poured it down the vent holes. Because he is fancy.
And then he started it up again and there was no smoke. So we drove home.
“Why does everything CATCH ON FIRE with you?” I accused, as we rode back.
“Listen, nothing caught on fire before you were around,” he answered. “I think it’s clear that the flammability in this equation comes from YOU.”
I had no snappy retort for that.
Well, at least we had a fun story to tell when we showed up at our friends’ house with a whole lot of chicken wings! And that was important, because Georgia really blew it, which meant we spent a lot of the game yelling at the television, inbetween eating wings. And chips. And drinking beer. And saying unkind things about the opposing quarterback.
(Also, commentators love to say useful things like, “Now, what that Georgia team needs to be doing, here, is getting the ball into the endzone.” Like that’s startling news. At some point we may have countered with, “What that Georgia team needs to be doing, here, is NOT THROWING THE BALL TO THE OTHER TEAM SO OFTEN.”)
We went home dejected. But full.
Yesterday we met some other friends for lunch, and started to relate the truck incident. Otto’s pal—who is the only person ’round here who has known him for longer than I have (20 years to my 19)—interrupted to say, “And I bet he did the typical level of Otto panic, too, which means that while you’re over there FREAKING OUT he’s just saying something like, ‘Hey, we might have a small problem, here.'” And then I laughed until I cried, because YES, that’s Otto, so calm you’re simultaneously grateful and overcome with an urge to strangle him.
We were eating at a local restaurant with an outdoor seating area that includes an old rowboat that has been converted into a pond/fountain. We were enjoying our food, right next to the boat, when a family or three arrived with a gaggle of children. The adults immediately turned the children loose, whereupon they gathered ’round the boat and commenced doing everything the sign said not to do.
The sign said “Do not put hands in the water.” The sign said “Do not throw litter into the water.” And the sign sign “Absolutely no throwing of rocks into the water.”
Go on—GUESS what these kids were doing?
This particular restaurant is also at the corner of a couple of fairly busy streets, and two of the kids in this group couldn’t have been older than four. The most egregious offender periodically took a break from chucking rocks into the water to walk the fifteen feet over to where the dining area led to the street, and I couldn’t decide which I would find more enraging—the fact that the parents were allowing these kids to to be little brats or that one of them was going to get run over by a car.
Otto started gently teasing me about my inability to stop seething over what was happening, but as I pointed out to the other diners in our party, it’s people who parent like that (which is to say, not at all) that cause OTHER people to give me dirty looks when I’m out with my kids. (My kids who could behave that way in public EXACTLY ONCE and then be strung up by their thumbs.)
Finally the moment came where I was ready to shove every single one of them face-down into the fountain, and Otto was actually trying to address one kid before he flung a rock the size of a baseball into the water, and THEN an adult walked up and said, “Did you throw a rock in there?” And all the kids looked up and acted innocent, but said adult corralled them elsewhere. Which was FABULOUS, you know, because they’d only been destroying the restaurant’s property for about half an hour, by then.
Later that night, the kids called to report that they’d had a great day—they’d gone to the zoo and had a wonderful time. Chickadee said she was feeling much better. I told them I’d see them today, and bid them goodnight.
Aaaaaaaand then they called at 2:00 in the morning to report that Chickadee was throwing up. There is nothing more helpless-feeling that your sick kid on the other end of the phone. I am now waiting for the morning update, but I’m hoping the fact that I haven’t heard, yet, means they’re all sleeping in.
So, um, yeah. If anyone knows where I could get my hands on one of those dull moment things, let me know. In fact, I might be willing to purchase in bulk.