I wonder, sometimes, whether I'd be a rich source of material for a stand-up comic.
Everybody Loves Raymond was very much a "strumming my pain with his fingers, blah blah blah something about my life and his words" show. It was so very much our life, I laughed and laughed while watching it, and so did my husband, but every now and again, we'd slant a glance to the other person and say, "Humph, well, humph."
Nevertheless, clearly, this must mean our life was not only common, but funny, right? Sitcom level funny.
Here, let me give you an example. This is my morning, and it is a typical morning. This story takes place within about a five minute period of time. That should be about as long as it takes you to read so WOWZA, I'm all 24-cool, in real time.
Scene: our house, early morning, all people and animals awake and preparing for departure
“Okay,” I say to DH, “Can you grab that and bring it downstairs because I need to get the daybags for the kids to go to the sitter’s.”
“Isn’t Sweet Pea going to Grandma’s?” he asked me.
Oh. Oh shit. So she is. I agreed to this visit on a workday for two reasons: (1) despite being here, in town, within 10 minutes of Grandma 52 weeks out of the year, Grandma is afraid that our elder daughter will forget her just because she will be out of town for a short while, (2) Sweet Pea is always seeking an alternative to the sitter’s because she hates doing a baby thing (I guess the fact that her younger sister is there renders it a Horrid Baby Thing---and I’m not sure when we got out of the “I’m a baby too!” stage, anyway) and she dislikes the sitter’s potty. That will have to suffice. We can talk potty another day.
Okay now I am frozen in a panic of, “How do I revise my plan and instead prepare for two kids gong two places, and OH NO! My business meeting at 1 and how will this work and crappity crap crap cr...”
My copy of She’s Gonna Blow---a book about how mothers can chill out and manage anger born out of frustration and stress---stares balefully at me from my nightstand, and I trail off my last crap. Would this be seismic activity, or a Strombolian or Hawaiian eruption pending? It’s still confusing to me.
Okay, I can do this. Either my mother-in-law can keep Sweet Pea until after my meeting, or she can bring her to me and I can run her over to the sitter’s---quick calculation, it’s a 20 minute drive there, 20 minutes back, add in 15 minutes for traffic, hmm okay maybe if I skip lunch I can make it---or I can have her drop the kid off at the sitter’s. First one might be a conflict for her, second one is a conflict for me, and third one is a can of worms.
My guardian angel, God, or my current hallucination speaks to me in my head, “Be decisive, tell people what to do.”
I glance once more at the clock and kick it into overdrive. I grab the diaper bag and backpack and ensure each is filled with the kid’s daily needs: two spare outfits, sunblock, spare undies/diapers, lovies, random crap in the bottom I’m too scared to look at, oh yes and wipes. Okay all set. Throw in lunch and good to go.
I grab the baby, tell the older child to come on and we hurry downstairs. By the time we reach the bottom, the little one has fallen asleep on my shoulder.
Dog, oh no, dog. I hurriedly put the dog I the back yard just as Grandma knocks on the door.
“Hello, how are you, great great,” I say, in a rush, patting the baby’s back, trying to keep her asleep. I usher in my mother-in-law after it occurs to me that it would be beyond rude to simply shove my older daughter out the door to her. I quietly close the door, trying to be graceful and easy in my movements, trying to keep the baby asleep, yes, but mainly to set the model for “be quiet now and don’t wake the baby” to my daughter and mother-in-law.
Then the doorbell rings. Chaos breaks loose. The dog barks madly and hurls his body crashingly against the back door, his barking escalates to deep throaty “let me at ‘em” growly barks. My daughter begins hopping and saying, loudly, “The doorbell! The doorbell!” My mother-in-law adds, ‘Were you expecting someone else?”
I say no, and yank open the door, irritated, with a sharp “Yes?”
I see a man with sunglasses and blue cable shirt, “Hi,“ he says, “I’m the cable guy and I’m here about the cable.”
I grimace out a smile and say, “Yeah okay we don’t have cable, and don’t want cable, thanks, goodbye!” and start to close the door.
“Wait!” he calls.
I crack the door a bit, “Yes?”
“I’m here to turn off your cable.”
“Okay, umm well see I don’t have cable and haven’t ever so nothing to turn off.”
“Did you just move in?” he asks quickly, before I can close the door.
“Yes,” I admit.
“Then it’s the cable the previous owners had.”
My mother-in-law is shuffling behind me, talking to my daughter. The baby twitched a few times on my shoulder and has come full awake now, not ready to. She begins clawing at my shirt, and her wails start to escalate.
“Okay,” I say conceding, “What do you need?”
“I was just telling you, because all I need to be is in your backyard, and I didn’t want you to be alarmed or anything,” he tells me. Where we live, this is code for “and shoot me dead on the spot with no repercussions.” This is why meter readers wear neon colors with 200 pt font that says, “METER READER.” Over their flak vest, of course. Wait, this makes it sound like I live in a war zone. No, no, just the Wild Wild West where concealed handguns are not only legal, but common, and likely to be used. My neighborhood is perfectly nice, just well-armed.
I start to say okay and close the door, when I recall the dog is out back. Crappity crappity…no, no, she’s not gonna blow.
I look at him and say, ‘Okay, here’s the deal. Now is not an okay time. The dog is out back and I can’t let him in right now. You’ll have to come back in five minutes.”
Wow! That felt GOOD!
(When I told my husband this story, at this point, he interjected, “And did that work???” I said, “Actually, yes, yes it did.”)
The cable guy looks happy, and says, “No problem!” running quickly to his truck. I think, yeah it’s fine, he’s just happy to escape the crazy lady with the chanting child, screaming baby, peering mother-in-law, and barking dog.
I close the door. Okay. Now. I look a my chanting child and peering mother-in-law. I pick up the backpack and say, “Here’s her bag. She wanted to eat breakfast with you, I’ll pick her up after my meeting at 1, should be about an hour-ish, I’ll call, this is really great, love and kisses baby, you two have fun, BYE NOW!” I close the door behind their backs with a sigh.
I grab my bags and the baby, let in the dog, and walk to the front door, where I meet cable guy who is very prompt about his five minutes, no wait, it’s only been two, barely.
“All yours,” I say, as I head to my car.
I throw bags into the front seat with the abandon of an airline cargo loader, and strap the still screaming and now struggling baby into her car seat.
Once I sit in my seat, I take five deep breaths. Whatever type of eruption it could have been, it wasn’t.
Lots of seismic activity, but no eruption. Still, it’s only a quarter past 9. So we’ll see.
By Julie Pippert
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