Thursday, February 26, 2009

dash lights, schmash lights

Last Friday Bryan and I spent the evening doing what all party animals in Elk City do – watching some thrilling high school basketball. Now that he teaches high school, he feels some obligation to make an appearance at some of their games. I go along with him because – I love spending time with my husband. AND those concession stands have good nachos. Okay, it’s really all about the nachos.

So after his school’s team was completely slaughtered, we went home to do the other thing party animals do in Elk City – (get your mind out of the gutter) go to sleep at 10:00 on a Friday night. We were driving home on a sort-of back road when an approaching car flashed its lights at us. Except that the lights were red and blue. Ooops.

The car passed us and then did a U-turn, lights flashing insistently as if we hadn’t seen them before. Bryan pulled over while I looked through the glove compartment for our insurance card that I had a sinking feeling wasn’t there…it wasn’t. The officer came to the window.

“Is there a reason you’re going so fast tonight?” he asked.

“Um, not a good reason,” Bryan told him. Bryan was apparently going for humor as his out in this situation. But hold on – it gets better.

“Do you know how fast you were going tonight?” asked the officer.

“Well, we don’t have any dash lights so I’m not really sure but my wife just asked me how fast I was going right before you pulled me over…” I wondered why Bryan didn’t just tell him that we also had an illegal handgun and dead body in the trunk while he was at it. It’s true – our dash lights went out about 10,000 miles ago. We haven’t gotten them fixed because they only allow you to see information that isn’t really that important – like how fast you are going, what gear you are in, how much gas you have left, stuff like that.

“You were going 46 and the posted limit here is 35. Do you have your license and insurance?” And the answer to that question was no. We had a card but it had expired a month ago. Guess I dropped the ball on that one since I open the mail.

The officer finally asked, “When was the last time you had a ticket?”

I really didn’t want Bryan to answer this question because I knew the answer - a few months ago. And a few months before that, and possibly a warning just last month. So I answered for him. I put my head down so that I could see the officer and said, “I haven’t had a ticket in over a decade, officer.”

He looked at me and then looked at Bryan again. He handed back our expired insurance card and said “You two slow it down and have a good night.” Maybe he thought Bryan having to go home with me was punishment enough – I don’t know.

But we were both very thankful.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

let's have a round of applause for awkward moments...

I’m a big fan of manners and doing “the right thing” in situations, whatever that means. I’ve been trying to teach Wesley manners (he calls them ‘matters’) since about five minutes after his birth. I’m not talking manners like: don’t use the corner of the tablecloth to get meat out of your teeth (and you know who you are…) I mean more like: send a thank-you note for wedding gifts, etc.

Last week, I was outside playing with the kids. Okay, really I was trying to keep kids from hitting one another with plastic golf clubs but the point is that we were all outside. And there was a lot of noise. The sounds of plastic clubs banging on the wooden fence, the sounds of children shouting and crying, dogs barking, the voices in my head telling me to just get in the car and drive away, lots of noise. And over all that noise, I heard a female grown-up voice yelling something.

At first I was confused when I heard it but then I answered, “Are you trying to find us?” Our yard is surrounded by a six foot wooden fence so I couldn’t really see anyone.

The mystery voice answered me, “I came to tell you that my husband died. He had a massive heart attack and died.”

It felt as if I had just woken up and someone was trying to make me solve an algebraic equation. I realized after a minute that it was my next door neighbor. I searched my memory for her name – was it Dorothy or Delores or Norma???

Here’s what makes this situation awkward – I can’t see her, we are shouting at eachother over a six foot tall fence, I don’t know her husband (he worked in the oil field and was rarely home), the kids are all suddenly intrigued by the voice on the other side of the fence and shouting who-knows-what back at her, I wasn’t even sure I had her name right, and I wasn’t entirely sure that she was SAD about this death. For all I knew, she could have been thrilled. I mean, the guy was home like three days a month and then it just seemed like he spent the whole time cleaning out his truck. Maybe she had a great insurance policy and was packing her bags for Fiji.

I went with my gut and tried sympathy. “Oh, Norma, I’m so sorry. Is there anything we can do? How are you holding up?”

Luckily this seemed to be what I was supposed to say.

Is there a protocol for situations like this? There should be. There should be a book that tells how to handle awkward situations of all kinds. In fact, I’m going to write one, maybe. It will cover everything from “Giving condolences for a death to a mystery neighbor over a six foot tall fence” to “How to politely decline an invitation to view a stranger’s ‘Scab Collection.’”

It’s sure to be a bestseller.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

life is great, blah blah blah

Sometimes my husband gets on my case about my writing. He thinks I write about negative stuff too much. Or that I come off as a negative person from my writing. And I argue that it isn’t that I’m negative – it’s just that I don’t think being super positive is very funny. Imagine if I wrote something like this:

Today was a good day. When I stepped on the scale, I had lost 40 pounds overnight! My kids were healthy and behaved perfectly all day long. In the afternoon I opened the mail and there was an envelope full of money – cash! Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, a delivery man arrived with a big bouquet of flowers from Bryan. The note said, “Just because I love you and appreciate all you do.” When Bryan got home from work he told me to just take it easy while he cooked dinner and did the dishes. Then the kids went to bed and we both read for a few hours until bedtime, where I drifted off into a sound slumber that was uninterrupted for at least eight hours.

Who would want to read that crap? I almost fell asleep just writing it. Not everything in this life is wonderful and smells like sunshine and rainbows and unicorns. In fact, some things smell like armpits and rotten cheese and I like to write about those things. They make me laugh.

Sorry, Bryan, but that’s just how I roll.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Urethra, I have found it!!!

Sorry, I had to quote Kelly Bundy from Married With Children for the title. I realize that the word should actually be “eureka.”

I have an idea for an invention and I’m going to share it with you.

This week both of our boys got some kind of virus. It has not been fun. It started on Tuesday. Wesley had to go back to the doctor’s office to have a repeat oxygen level test to make sure he is recovering from walking pneumonia (which means that last week was a giant ball of laughs, too.) He doesn’t like to go to the doctor so I knew he would put up a fight. He was very quiet and un-Wesley-like while we waited in the exam room. When we were finally finished, I took him out and loaded him into the car. They locked the door behind us since we were the last customers of the day. As soon as I buckled the straps, Wesley said in a really puny voice, “Mommy my tummy hurts. And my mouth hurts.” I figured it was because he had worked himself up so much about the doctor. I was wrong. He opened his mouth and puked all over his car seat and himself. I was torn – do I stick my hands under the fountain of puke and try to unbuckle him to get him out of the car or do I just wait for him to finish erupting? I decided to get him out. We went back to the doctor’s office and knocked on the now locked door. They were gracious enough to let us use the restroom. I stripped Wesley down to his diaper and tried my best to wipe him off. It was not a shining moment in my career as a mother.

There really is no worse sound to wake up to than that of a two year old ralphing in his own bed. Luckily, Wesley’s bout with the virus only lasted 12 hours. Unfortunately, I have about seventeen loads of laundry to help me remember each of those 12 painful hours. And then Wyatt got the bug.

Back to the invention. There are machines that help predict earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. There are even dogs that can warn people when they are about to have a seizure. I think what we need is this: some kind of device to predict when a little kid is about to throw up. It would need to give about a two minute warning so you could get said kid out of the car seat or off the couch or off grandma’s handmade rug imported from Turkey. I think a really good name for it would be the Puke Predictor. And we could get that Billy Mays guy who yells everything to do the commercial for it. “ARE YOU TIRED OF YOUR CHILD THROWING UP IN INCONVENIENT PLACES? THEN THE PUKE PREDICTOR IS FOR YOU!!” This invention would all but eliminate incidences of what I call PWAW – or puking without adequate warning.

Feel free to go ahead and actually create one of these devices. I only ask two things: when you make your millions, send me a free Puke Predictor, and when you get to go on Oprah to show off your clever invention, let me be in the studio audience. That seems fair, right?