I’d like to buy a “dull moment”

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.


  1. Neil

    But then you would have nothing to blog about. You would hate those dull moments.

  2. Otto

    For the record, Declan (the truck) returned to service Sunday afternoon, just as happy as could be to bound over logs and ditches hauling yard debris into the back 40.


  3. Megan

    I LIKE unflappable-in-crisis types. They provide context for all of us Chicken-Little-Sky-is-falling-RIGHT-NOW types, and context is very important. If I’m going to panic I want to be properly admired for the pitch and volume of my wailing and that only happens if someone else is there with a soothing counter-tone.

  4. Leandra

    I think Otto was trying to tell you that you are hot. In his nice, calm way.

  5. Melissa

    My boyfriend is the calm one and, ten years later, I think it might finally be rubbing off. I am much better at handling the unexpected after watching him resolve things so much more quickly that I can because of his cool head. My first impulse is still to freak out, but I think I’m making progress!

  6. Half Assed Kitchen

    If I poured soda over the top of my head would it quell the smoke billowing out my ears? Because I’m sure it’ll happen several times today.

  7. Katie

    Ugh, 2am phone calls are the worst! Good luck finding your dull moment!

  8. Kelly

    My gosh I wish I had more beer & wings on Saturday – I had to just stop watching and focus on Amelia and her friends who were visiting. At least Amelia looked cute in her UGA cheerleader outfit!

    Sorry Chic is not feeling well – I’ve heard a stomach thing is going around, in addition to all the other random viruses going around.

  9. dad

    Otto brings new definition to the expression “cool under fire.”
    What a guy!

    Sometimes I appear to be cool under pressure but it’s only because I’m unconscious. I understand that I get no credit for that.

    I’m happy Declan is unscathed and hope Chickadee is on the road to recovery.

  10. Astrogirl

    I think that Declan was just in need of a tasty beverage.

    I feel ya girl, I also married an infuriatingly cool-headed guy. Smoke billowing out of wood stove, threatening to set up smoke alarm and wake sick kid? “Hmm, we should probably open some windows.” Ant’s nest found above our bed? “I’ll just grab the vacuum cleaner and get rid of that.” Bear feeding at bird feeder not 5 feet from open front door? “Oh look, honey, a bear.” I guess at least one of us needs to stay calm in these situations. Because, GOD KNOWS it sure as heck ain’t me!!

  11. Amy-Go

    Leandra beat me to it! Of course, I was giong to say he thinks you’re smokin’, instead of hot, but same sentiment. ;)

  12. MomCat

    J.R.R.Tolkien wrote about this….something about good and happy times not making much of a tale to tell.

    While we love to read your adventures, I hope to come to your blog soon and find more entries about how happy the kids are, what you cooked and all the great press you are getting. Oh, and big buckets of money taking up too much space.

  13. Lmerie

    Oh yuck – bratty kids on your kids free dinner! Not fair!

  14. Crisanne

    I hope Chickie is feeling better. Nothing like a car ride to soothe an unhappy stomach!

  15. Karen

    And I thought it was just me who can’t stand to see other people let their children run wild in public. I turn into a seething monster when I see stuff like that, mostly because I spent the better part of 16-18 years making sure my kids were not like that. I always gave the three of them the “If you misbehave in this place I will beat you within inches of your life” speech right before entering a restaruant or a store. And all it took was one good sharp look with the “evil eye” for them to straighten up if they even looked like they were going to do something. but, alas, it is easier for these idiot parents to just turn a deaf ear and a blind eye on their wild children. And the rest of us just have to deal with it.

  16. Jamie AZ

    Here’s hoping there’s a dull and boring week in front of you. Or hey, maybe even the rest of November!

  17. Chuck

    Hmmm, I think by Otto saying that the flammability was caused by you, he was secretly telling you he thinks you’re really hot. Hope Chickadee feels better soon.

  18. BethRD

    Maybe I’m clueless, but why would they call you at 2 AM to tell you that Chickadee was throwing up? Would you have called *them* at 2 AM to tell them she was throwing up? I mean, it’s not life-threatening, it’s just one of those things. If someone woke me up at 2 AM to tell me about a minor kid sickness that I couldn’t do a single thing about, I might be miffed. I’m more than happy to be there for vomiting children (have been and will be again I’m sure) but if I can’t be there, I think I’d rather be unaware. I would think that one of the few benefits of having your kids have visitation with another parent would be that occasionally throwing up in the wee hours of the morning would be someone else’s problem entirely.

  19. ImpostorMom

    That game was awful. Or so I was told by my husband. I was busy taking my ungrateful toddler to the aquarium and then out to dinner with my mother. I’m glad I missed the game but the toddler rewarded my generosity by acting like a complete devil during our dinner out, despite my best efforts to keep him in check. That’s what I get for over stimulating a not-quite-2-year-old and then expecting him to sit still through a meal.

    I love that restaurant with the boat fountain btw, they have the best food and mango shakes to die for.

  20. Jenny

    Hey, when the other team is Florida, making fun of the other team’s quarterback is a sport unto itself. He is the Chosen One, after all….

    Here’s to a nice, quiet, vomit-free week….

  21. Lylah

    I have no dull moments to give you. But I do have plenty of sympathy and bourbon.

  22. Flea

    “I think it’s clear that the flammability in this equation comes from YOU.”

    Cracks me up.

    Hope Chicky is doing well.

  23. Sheila

    BethRD, I’m with you.

    At least Daylight Savings Time is over, so I bet you feel as refreshed as if you’d slept till 3:00am!

  24. tuney

    I have an aunt and uncle (they were formerly in the antique business) who have a dining set like that. You could probably get it from them… it’s in mint condition, really. Only thing is, they have the matching stove, fridge, and a couple of other kitchen appliances that complete the set, and it’s ALL in Pepto pink. Right down to the vinyl on the chairs. It’s quite a sight to walk into that kitchen, but I’m guessing that wouldn’t go with your awesome, newly-plastered decor. I’ll keep my eyes open down here in the sticks, if you would like. And no, I am not a stalker. Heh.

  25. Heather

    My husband was furious about the game – however happy that we had not gone to Jax. On the plus side maybe I will be able to add a third ticket next year.

  26. Foodie

    You didn’t see the table full of dull moments out at the flea market? *Duh!* Hope chickie had a better day. ;)

  27. The Mom

    Can I just ask when was the last time you called the Ex at 2:00 am becuase one of the kids was sick? That one always gets me. Just sayin’

  28. Sunny

    wish I had a dull moment too.

  29. Dawn

    Nothin’ to see here.

    Car broke down while I was picking up D2 from work. It is nigh on impossible to get a boost around here at 10:00 p.m. I’m just sayin’.

    Also, what The Mom said.

  30. Brigitte

    Took a peek at Iddy Biddy, but was too blind to see where to say “hello”. I did read something recently that was an easy green thing to do. It made me feel good, as with my budget, I’ve been doing this for decades, and it looks like you and Otto are into it too: buy used!

  31. Randi

    Ohhh – poor chickadee! I hope she feels better soon!

    And Otto named his truck Declan. What an inventive name! Out of total curiosity – what does he call his other vehicles?

  32. ~annie

    As soon as my daughter turns 18 and becomes an independent adult (276 days!) I’m sure I’ll have plenty of dull moments to hand out. You’re the first on my list to unload them on!

  33. Shannon

    My in-laws constantly get inquiries that say “do you want to sell your *insert vehicle here* on their door. They’ve started referring to their driveway as “*insert last name*’s used car lot”. But that’s what happens when you insist that “oh we need this truck as a spare/for hunting” and have 2-3 non-primary vehicles.

  34. megs

    I am the mom of a 13 month old and started a blog this summer. I named it “Never A Dull Moment”…I assume things get even more interesting once they can talk back :-) AND we live in RI and I joined a playgroup where we did trunk or treating. It was great!

  35. Vicki

    Well, I hope when he brings her back she’s not barfing anymore. That will eliminate some of the action. My dad had a truck on time that caught on fire with my two brothers and I still in it. Talk about grabbing kids through the window and tossing them in the yard…hehe.

    As long as things are never dull, you’ll never run out of blog fodder…

    Come check out my new blog for something to brighten your day. It includes pregnant belly pics…*said in sing-songy tempting you with candy voice* :-)

  36. Daisy

    In the realm of eduction we say, “Here’s hoping for a dull Monday!”

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