The woman in the pizza shop carries her kid on her hip like it’s some growth, a Mini-Me, an evil puppet you can’t control that just talks like that and won’t stop.
Because I’m not employed and my wife is over-worked and we’re living with my mother-in-law, I make a show of any tasks that are mine, adding flourish with grunts and drawing the work out so it takes longer than it should, acting tired when I’m done, complain I need a nap, complain a second time when I don’t get one and go on about why I didn’t as if someone cares, and then blog about it.
I’m now in charge of coordinating play dates with the other kids’ moms but bad with the details, slow with the texts, I get lost in the developments because they all look the same and take the long way to kill time, then have to rely on Lily’s 10-year-old friend to clarify the way — I expose them to a live show by The Fall in a car that has no air conditioning and makes us leave the windows down so everyone’s loud and either laughing or fighting back there, wedged in and rolling into each other with every turn like they’re at the amusement park with hair everywhere, screaming — I juice the volume to see how long it takes until someone says something, but no one does. They’re lost in their worlds and I’m lost in mine.
Charlotte is picking her nose with a plastic straw and I cross the center line when I turn to yell and all the teens out here are learning to drive in these souped-up cars that say SWERVE on them, which is a terrible name for a driving school — like Honey Bucket for portable toilets or FATBURGER for a restaurant. Don’t put fat in the name, start there.
We watch the backstory leading up to WWI, our man Kaiser Wilhelm II and his English, German, Russian cousins — how a chill set in when Queen Victoria died, how she bound them by her mere presence and pretty much kept them in line. How just one ass can yank the whole train off the tracks and leave it overturned, how we forget we’re pretty much all related.
At my mother-in-law’s I think about assuming control of the kitchen which is like taking Asia if you’re playing the game Risk, it’s hard to lose when you’ve got Asia.
But I have no control and nor should I, and that leaves me fidgeting with the blinds and taking the tomatoes out of the refrigerator and describing why they don’t belong there in a way that’s not as nice as it could be and may not be right — changing the station from the news to Classical, playing with the downlight settings on the microwave — I would be hard to date.
Dawn is in the basement with a headset talking to her computer that’s either a video she’s on or a phone call it’s unclear, but she’s in the same sports commentator go-to-battle pose as air traffic control batting back the emails and the IM’s as they come in, tamping them down — and upstairs, it’s wind chimes if I’m lucky and the smattering of ad voices or news commentators if I’m not.
I sit on the back step looking out over the lake, below a deck that’s on stilts with the screen door open and a Sleeping Beauty VHS spilling out, mixing with the night sounds, the final scene with Maleficent cackling and baiting the prince, burning everything, turning herself into a dragon. The fairies launch a counter-spell that charms his sword and he throws it into her chest and she topples over screaming, disappears into the bottom of the screen.
I agree to cuddle with the kids upstairs because they’re scared, and Charlotte rocks back and forth saying she misses mom but concedes to me, gestures for my place on the bed, and settles in near midnight.