Archive for May, 2011

Removing “Catfish” from the Endangered List

May 15th, 2011 at 7:26 pm » Comments (6)

The battle for the Catfish has officially been won. I spent last week regretting not publicly speaking up and getting in the faces of some awful coaches. Instead, mom and I wrote emails to league officials and raised a much quieter, civil, well mannered hell.  But I worried. Maybe those league officials didn’t really do anything. Maybe those poor Catfish were still being verbally assaulted and wouldn’t I somehow be responsible…?

So I HAD to find out. Y’all needed to know, too, right?

It all worked out well. Mike would be coming back from a trip earlier than expected on Friday. I explained what I wanted to do and politely asked if he would feel better if I took my mom “for back-up.” My mom is five foot two inches tall, adorable, has kind blue-green eyes, and truth be told, she is sometimes not assertive enough with her housecat.

Mike said that he’d feel better if I took her with me to “hold me back” – and that was quite different.

We were going to see the Wasps beat the Catfish, and to see if the coaches were treating the players right. We were self appointed, self righteous Catfish advocates.

If we’d been better at this, we would have worn black and red, the colors of the Catfish and blended in with their other supporters. But I wore two shades of pink and dressed for winter because  it was in the high 70s and I’m always cold, and my adorable mother wore a white t shirt and capris because it was in the high 70s and she is not always cold. But I was pleased with my pointy toed boots, both for warmth and for potential buttkicking purposes.

The Wasps beat the Catfish badly.

As we knew they would. But… this time… the coaches were positive. My mom observed that the positive sentiments all seemed to be choked out through gritted teeth – which was true – but they were there nonetheless. It continued this way, despite the more and more lopsided score. We really needed to stay and infiltrate the after game meeting. That was where the real verbal abuse had taken place after their previous game.

If we’d been better at this, we would have had a strategy for blending in to the team meeting after the game.  But instead we sort of stood at the fringes, with our backs to the meeting and pretending to watch another game even though we’d just sat and watched THIS team’s game. I had my phone recording the whole thing. We looked, uh, quite suspicious. Earlier on in the season, it wouldn’t have been an issue, but by now everyone pretty much knows everyone and who goes with which kid.

The coach remained positive. Encouraging. Upbeat. He wasn’t good at it at all. In fact, he probably had to Fo Up in the dugout right after, it seemed to be so unnatural. But hey, that’s okay! I was thrilled. Someone had talked some sense into that guy, and it showed.

We were about ready to go when one of the Wasp’s moms walked by us. I froze. I know her, and did NOT want her to stop and say, “well, hey, Kelsey. What are you doing here, your kid is not a Catfish…?” and then what? Gah. I was holding a folding chair, so I just casually put it right in front of my face and the sun was in her eyes as she passed, so I hope she didn’t see me at all. I don’t think she did.

Then I turned the recording off at a really quiet moment and it made a very suspicious, ‘video ending’ sort of sound. I noticed a long shadow approach and fall across my mom’s back. I turned and a very tall man with a big beard was right behind me. He had on sunglasses, but I could FEEL the suspicion through the lenses. They knew someone had ratted them out for being nasty, they just did not know WHO, for sure. And here were two highly suspicious mommy types.

But our work was done. So Mom and I took off our superhero capes and went home.

Long live the Catfish!

Save the Catfish

May 13th, 2011 at 10:18 am » Comments (8)

Last week, there was an Incident at a baseball game. My only regret is not physically throwing myself right into the middle of it and yelling my outraged mommy face off  in such a way that would have possibly benefitted small children.

Not my own small children. My own small children would have been shocked and embarrassed forEVER, not that I mind this possibility.

I was getting ready to watch Caden-7yr’s team win a game. Behind me, a team I’ll call the Catfish, was having their after-game meeting. The Catfish are having a bad season, and they were playing the only undefeated team. These little guys are eight years old and younger, and just got beat 19-5 and pretty much had a rough night.

But it was only just starting. Their coach LET. THEM. HAVE. IT.

He was personally offended with their performance. He was MAD. He yelled and demeaned those babies – by name – and pointed out their individual shortcomings. He gave them the option to opt out of the team. It went on. AND ON. And ON. Not one positive word. Nothing encouraging. Nothing  at all, but this man’s personal feelings about how they had failed him. In the end, he thought they did the ‘all hands in, cheer’ thing wrong also, and even that proved how bad a team they were. My heart broke for these poor kids.

My mother and I cannot possibly watch Caden-7yr when this is going on behind us. I’m turned around completely in my chair giving this man a dirty look. Wondering why in the world these kids’ parents are standing there and taking this and NO ONE is standing up for these kids.

I don’t care if they did play badly.

They didn’t deserve to be spoken to like that. No one does. It was THAT unacceptable.

I considered getting up and getting in the middle of it. A LOT. And I so should have. Mike was on the other side of my mother and probably would have helped me out if needed. (He was busy watching OUR kid play and missed all of this somehow.)

What stopped me was the parents. I looked at all of them, and not one of them seemed to be in disagreement. Not one of them seemed as outraged as my mother and I were for THEIR children. They seemed glassy eyed and bored and disinterested, but not offended. And that confused me. If I DID get up and go raise hell right there in the Catfish Post-Game Berating Session, there was a REAL good chance that no Catfish parent would be nice about my attempts to defend their kids.

Shoulda anyway.


Even if I WERE the only person (and my cute little mommy, too, actually) there who would have stood up for those little kids… I should have. I hate the lingering burn of regret that comes with not doing the right thing. You know? I just HATE that feeling. I’m thinking about it today because the Catfish play a team that will undoubtedly beat them by a lot, and I’m worried about this little team of precious boys. I’m tempted to go tonight and jump in if necessary if this coach does it again and maybe belatedly right a definite wrong. Save the Catfish! and all that.

What I DID do that night was all but exhaust my best Dirty Mom Look . Ack. No. Um… Mom-Style Dirty Expression On Face Look. Right, see, it just doesn’t have the right sound. And then I took a picture of the coach with my phone so his identity could not be disputed, texted a coach in the league who had me write a long, long email to the league officials describing every last bit of what I heard that I could remember, which was a LOT since I couldn’t let it go. And then I asked my mom to do the same, which she did, and I don’t know if it did any good. I got a positive “oh, nuh UH that is unacceptable, thank you, we will address it” sort of email response, instantly, but is that enough? I don’t know. I should have recorded the whole thing. I should have done a lot that I didn’t.

I might go save some Catfish.

Mike Serves His Sentence

May 11th, 2011 at 6:18 pm » Comments (5)

Yesterday I wrote about Mike doing hard time – for 30 minutes – in after school detention. It all went down today. Susan, I wondered about if he would have to sit in a little chair too. I think the first time he had to do this, a few years ago, he DID. But not today. He was very stingy with the details that might have made this a more interesting post, so there’s not a lot to say.

He did send me a  text right afterwards about how the vice principal told him that in 28 years, he’s only the 3rd parent to ever show up and serve time.

Okay, “serve time” is my phrase.

I wrote back asking if she was counting him one time or two, since he was a re-offender.

Then he didn’t sound so cocky after that. He apparently did not point out that he had been in before and she should worry about recidivism.

And since there were no fascinating details to make this longer (which is probably completely intentional on Mike’s part), I shall now tack on a weird Seth-5yr story that has nothing to do with anything except that it makes me laugh.

The other night Seth-5yr ate something awful and ended up getting sick in the middle of the night. That’s not the funny part. What? You think I actually tell y’all all the weird illnesses we get? Nope! I leave some out. Which is why you don’t know about how all of us were exposed to pink eye on Mother’s Day in the 3yr old Sunday School class and the measures we took  to save ourselves. Anyway.

Seth-5yr recovers from the food thing and then the next night is pondering the Sheer Nastiness of Fo Up. He’s recalling JUST how disgusting it is… which I am editing out for you, you’re welcome…. and then says, “I wonder if Jaysus even yikes Fo Up.”

He thinks for a minute about Jesus’ perspective on vomit and then says, “No… I don’t think Jaysus DOES yike Fo Up.”

I said, “well, no one really does.” I think this is an absolutely hysterical and wonderful  conversation already, so I say this from behind my hand so that I don’t laugh and ruin the entire thing. I’m also trying to remember the scripture about a dog eating Fo Up, but can’t remember the point of it, so I don’t mention it.

(You try having 3 boys and not knowing there’s actually a scripture about a dog eating fo up, just go ahead, I dare ya.)

Seth-5yr thinks some more about this, as it’s a big thought – if he and Jesus are truly in agreement about vomit… and then he says, “Would bad guys yike Fo Up? You know. Wobbers. Hmm. No. I do not teenk that wobbers would even yike Fo Up. You’re right, Mom. No one really DOES yike Fo Up. Not bad guys, not wobbers,  not Jaysus. And not me.”

And then he ran off and I laughed and made a mental note to tell y’all about it.

Triple Detention

May 10th, 2011 at 4:45 pm » Comments (4)

I was feeling ALL guilty about that last post and then realized that apparently none of us like ALL of our neighbors and now I don’t feel so bad. I’m pretty sure I’m fairly unlikeable also, as a neighbor and otherwise, but I’ve worked at it and see this as an accomplishment.

It didn’t take much. I just smiled and nodded and pretended not to notice the 7,000 hints from the people across the street the night they came over and introduced themselves and kept saying that they really needed a babysitter that very night so they could go to a party. Their kid was adorable. I would have liked to spend the evening with that little guy. But I couldn’t really encourage that sort of parental bad behavior. That would have been a bit, too, um, neighborly.

Speaking of parental bad behavior.  Heh heh. If I were talking about me… I’d confess that I just ate a stripey fudge cookie IN BED even though I didn’t even like it.  I’m in bed where all the covers are because I am always cold, and the kids are in here on the other computer playing games on nickjr. I’m supervising. Right. I did resist the urge to brush the crumbs over to Mike’s side of the bed. But I wasn’t really talking about me and MY bad behavior, so confession over.

I was going to tell you how a grown man ends up serving detention in an elementary school. Because that’s where Mike will be tomorrow afternoon. Hands folded in lap, staring ahead at the wall – NOT his iphone – for thirty whole minutes, presumably with Ethan-11yr on one side and Caden-7yr on the other side. I envision a unique father-son bonding time, while doing hard time. Seth-5yr escaped this fate, as he is in preschool and too young to be held accountable for the sins of his father.

But the other two? The other two were given detention for 3 tardies in 6 weeks that are pretty much all Mike. The boys get up, eat, get dressed, and sit around and act calm in the morning until Mike takes them to school. Yes. They really do.  When Mike’s gone,  and I take them, we leave the house really early so I can walk them in and have plenty of time to kiss their little faces off before saying goodbye. So the tardies are all on Mike. Certainly this morning’s tardy is, since he slept badly, was running late, and thought he’d make up some time the old fashioned way and ended up getting pulled over and getting a ticket.

The kids got in the car this afternoon, shoulders slumped, and handed me their assignment slips for detention. They were crushed. They couldn’t have done anything differently. It seemed so unfair. They’ll be in detention truthfully proclaiming their innocence and how flawed the justice system is.

I was NOT happy. My calls to Mike went unanswered. When he called back, I described the gnashing of childlike teeth and the scene of despair and pointedly asked what he would be doing tomorrow afternoon. “Uh… I guess I’ll be doing detention.”

Right answer! A grown man ends up in detention in an elementary school because he mans up and volunteers to be there rather than let his kids endure what should be his punishment.

But it’s all right. He knows the drill. He was there a few years back.

He’s a re-offender.

But the correctional staff is comprised of adorable elementary teachers in cardigans and ballet flats, so I won’t worry too much about him. Since his sentence is only 30 minutes, so I do hope they don’t let him out early for good behavior. He’s way too busy, that man, and he could benefit greatly from an enforced 30 minute mental break every few years or so.

I wonder if he has any requests for dinner tonight. Not hat he EVER does, not that anyone EVER does have a cooking request of me, but this is different! Last supper before the big detention and all…

Oh nevermind. I forgot. He has a dinner thing he’s attending.

Maybe I should make them all matching tattoos with hearts and the word ‘mom’ inside.  That would be appropriate.

Despise Thy Neighbor (Wait… right? no? huh.)

May 9th, 2011 at 1:56 pm » Comments (9)

Over the years, I’ve badmouthed my neighbors to you in ways that fall way, way short of Christ-like. It’s true. I could probably do a search and provide links with all the times I’ve trashed these people to you.  I don’t like how they have poker night once a week and there’s nowhere to park. Not that I need a place to park. But still. I don’t like how their guests wander around drunk and make stupid comments. I don’t like how their commercial grade icemaker drains and  floods our yard all the time, or how they grow really tall weeds and let water stand in puddles and breed mosquitoes just on the other side of the fence from where my kids play.

An apology is overdue for this horrible, gossipy, behavior. It’s unacceptable.  I don’t sit around mad about these people. But whenever I DO think about them, it’s always negative, never nice, and then I mentally list off all their unappealing habits. And I should stop that. And repent for dragging y’all into it.

But here’s the thing.

I think they’re growing weed, now. Or, more accurately, preparing to grow weed. This actually bothers me far less than the standing water problem, hello West Nile Virus, we don’t need any other weird illnesses here.  Mom was over last night and I invited her to peer through the fence cracks with me in order to more fully investigate their preparations.

WHAT? Is that not how you honored your mother on Mother’s Day? It worked for us. We spied on the neighbors, and discussed their possibly illegal and unsavory behavior that is based on, well, not much, and then we went inside and watched the finale of the Amazing Race.

Ethan-11yr had requested hamburgers with bits of bacon smushed into the patties. I obliged – squished two forms of meat from two different animal sources together, ick, ick, ick – and Mike grilled them. I ate sushi and potato chips.

Which might  sound like a far more disgusting combination to some of you than pig + cow, but eh. I liked.

There was supposed to be an apology coming your way… from me… and… nope. There’s no way I can sincerely do it. Maybe soon. I can’t stand my neighbors. But at least this way, if there is a genuine transformation in my attitude toward them, I can let you know about it then and we can admire the miracle together.


God is big, but don’t hold your breath. I’m stubborn on this one.

Hopefully, I Never “Measure Up” As a Mom Again. EVER.

May 7th, 2011 at 3:21 pm » Comments (7)

I took 3 boys to Hobby Lobby today. The aisles and aisles of breakable stuff normally preclude my taking them with me if at all possible. I’m clumsy. They’re not known for looking where they’re going. It’s an errand to avoid if possible. But today we had made it. Nothing had gone wrong.

We stood in line at the register, a few people ahead of us and 2 cute college girls behind us. One of them smiled, nodded at the boys, and said, “They’re really cute.”

I thanked her. Because that’s what you do. Not because I particularly agreed right at that moment.

The line was moving very slowly. I heard Caden-7yr behind me say, “Whoah…!”

And then…. life slowed down considerably. In slow motion, I took in the sight of Caden-7yr with a tape measure he had picked up from a display and noticed it was held up, inches from my backside, tape stretched WIDE.

The “whoah” was a sound of surprise at the large-ish number attached to this particular – highly inaccurate – measurement of my butt.

Behind all of this stood two open-mouthed, bug eyed college girls who looked as if they’d both just decided not to ever have children.

Caden-7yr can be very influential.

I grabbed the tape measure, pushed the button to make the tape retreat back inside, and said, “Are you KIDDING me? Don’t! EVER! Do! THAT!”  I was sorta laughing, so it didn’t come out all that harshly. I couldn’t help it. Mortifying, yes, but also SO funny.

One college girl said, “Oh. My. GAWD.”  She was bothered FOR me. I think she was bothered for all women everywhere. And she didn’t really seem to think my children were cute anymore and she didn’t really seem to find it humorous. I can’t blame her.

I smiled at her and shrugged and scooted us all up, where I put everything in the basket onto the counter to be scanned. We were almost out of there when the other college girl said, “Excuse me? Your butt is NOT big. I just hope you know that. I mean, I KNOW  I would want someone to tell me that.” Her eyes were still very big.  I think Caden-7yr scarred these girls for life.


The cashier, who had not seen anything before this, snapped her head up and looked around, trying to make sense of this interesting declaration. I thanked the cashier, thanked the college girl, and got my butt out of there.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms.

And I’d just like to say to you, on this very special day,  with big eyes and great college-girl type sincerity, “Your butt is NOT big. I just hope you know that.”

I think maybe that will always be an awkward thing to say, regardless of time or place. (But we gave it the ol’ college try.)

It’s not really THAT kind of church

May 6th, 2011 at 5:27 pm » Comments (3)

A text, received this morning, from a lovely lady at church that I do not know very well at all:

Are you available for the 9:15 3some?

I NEEDED to have a reason to curl up in a ball and laugh until I snorted. Usually I only do that with LaLa. Ooooh, for the love of “autocorrect” features.  What she meant was, “are you available for teaching the 9:15 3s room?” And… yes, i am. As soon as I grow up a little and think of a 3yr old- appropriate Mother’s Day craft that will not drive me crazy.

After that, I had a lazy morning with Ethan-11yr. We played Monopoly and he kicked my butt, despite still being clearly challenged by a brain injury. If I had wanted to take advantage of that, then maybe I coulda won, but I’m not really that competitive. It was a good opportunity to see what is still difficult for him, and where the improvements are. Then I took him to lunch and to a science museum. He was quiet, thoughtful, sensitive, and he rushed to open and hold every single door for me – including the car doors.

I’m not sure where this came from. But I like it.

Which I told him, repeatedly, and then he started to get a little irritated.  It was the lipstick on the cheek that was too much, but come ON- opening doors without prompting? How could there NOT be lipstick on the cheek?

It was Clinique pink spice, under MaryKay berry sparkle gloss, but muted by the previous eating of a chicken/veggie wrap without the chicken. For those of you who care.

Oh, Go On. Have Another!

May 5th, 2011 at 5:32 pm » Comments (7)

A couple of days ago I stood by the back fence with a drill in my hand that suddenly seemed very heavy. I’m in the middle of installing cabinet door handles all along the back fence that will serve as supports for the grapevines. I’ve trained the grapevines to grow in three horizontal lines down the fence on either side of a gate, and these darling little handles will help them stay put. But the other day, the thought of having any extra strength to lean into that drill… daunting. I stared at the fence and then went and put the drill away. The energy is still not quite there.

But I’m not a floppy mess in fleecy bunny pants, at least. The 5th thing kicked my butt for a full 24 hours, and then today I got up and went to the gym and refuse to give it another day. HA! I’ll show YOU, you stupid childhood illness. THIS is what a grown woman does when confronted with a childhood illness. Yeah.

We were halfway home from school today when Caden-7yr says, “Hey, look at that! Ethan-11yr has a NEW rash. It’s not the old 5th Disease one. It’s not like my Bendaroo rash. It’s a Brand New One!”

I have memorized the doctor’s schedule and know in which town on which days he is at his 3 various clinics. I considered detouring to the one where he would be today. And screaming. I seriously considered screaming.

Caden-7yr continued on, helpful as ever. “So! That makes three different rashes in the last month between…. um…. FOUR people! Well. I did have the Bendaroo Rash two different times, but that’s still the same one so I’ll just count that one once. ”

It turns out that Ethan-11yr did a science experiment with bath salts and some sort of oil from Bath and Body Works. I decided it was an allergic reaction to that, gave him benadryl, a hug,  a prayer, and an oatmeal bath. Because it’s Ethan-11yr Version 2.0 (the post concussion, gentle and sweet tempered version), he’s being cheerful and lovely even though this rash is so ugly it looks like it has thoroughly chewed up his once creamy white flesh and then spit it all out in red splotchy patches.

This rash means business.

But so do I.

The Benadryl has knocked Ethan-11yr out cold, even though it’s 5 pm. His non-rashy angelic freckled face is on the pillow next to mine and his long long lashes are fluttering in his sleep.

A few days ago when I was chopping lots of veggies, gorgeous little semicircles of deep brown mushroom gills kept ending up on my cutting board. I made a little pile of them, lined them up and took a photo. They reminded me of something but it wasn’t until now that I remembered what it was: Ethan-11yr’s eyelashes.

I just leaned over and whispered quiet little prayers with scriptures right over his sweet face. I had a maternal spiritual hankering to do that and it simply could not be denied. I guess he wasn’t as asleep as i thought. His Mushroom Lashes flew open and we both squeaked in surprise.

He waited until I retreated back to my side of the bed, then closed his eyes and seemed to go back to sleep.

Better watch out for those prayin’ mamas.  You just never know when one’s going to get up in your face like that.

Three Fifths. No, wait. Four Fifths.

May 3rd, 2011 at 7:37 pm » Comments (5)

Never, EVER accidentally give three small children chocolate covered espresso beans. You might think they won’t eat them. But they will. And you won’t know it until they start reverberating.

That was learned last weekend. I’m reminded of this because I could really use some chocolate covered espresso beans right about now. I am falling down tired. Just now I loaded up the kids (who I’ve already fed, bathed and pjed – at SIX O CLOCK because I’m being optimistic and hoping they’ll nod off super early and then gee, maybe I can too) and took them to my mom’s. She’s on a trip, so we fed her cat.  He was grateful.

On our way out of her neighborhood there was a very cute family having their photo taken. The little girls wore gorgeous sundresses and their hair had been curled. The younger girl, maybe age 4, was not into this project and would not smile. Her (impeccably dressed) mother stood behind the photographer and appeared to be doing an impersonation of an elephant lifting its trunk – made from her arms. It was REALLY dramatic.

Normally I would be charmed by such a scene. Amused. Think how creative and nice that mother must be.

But tonight I could only think, Oh showoff. What are you doing with all that extra ENERGY anyway? Just go home.

Nice, right?

Then I came home and forgot that I broke the kitchen sink and turned it on and water went all over me. Because when I break something, I REALLY break something.

I collapsed and sat and could not bring myself to get off my butt and go find the chocolate covered espresso beans. Lamented that there was NO reason for me to be feeling like this. Nutrition, exercise, sleep levels all excellent. I started this post and noticed wrist pain.

Then Mike called and said 5th disease in adults can show up in exhaustion and joint pain, particularly wrists.


Seth-5yr and Caden-7yr came down with it today. You’d only know it because of the rash. Children do not lose all energy, just their parents. And that’s just so wrong. They are still hopping around with too much vitality for my current preferences.

Yo, tone it down, small rashy folk.

Mike went on for awhile about… I dunno, I forgot. I just remember the surprised reaction when I cut him off and said, “Wait. Is this just  a recreational conversation? Because i don’t have the energy for that.”

Nice. Very nice. Especially since there really aren’t many of those conversations and I just killed a perfectly good one.

The kids can take steroids for this. But I’m not exactly the steroid type. Or the doctor/prescription/anything of the sort type. Instead,  I prescribe chocolate covered espresso beans and a day in bed in my favorite gray fleecy pj pants with tiny white bunnies wearing pink scarves and pink earmuffs.

Too bad that can’t happen.

I Say Celery, You Say Salary.

May 2nd, 2011 at 9:15 pm » Comments (5)

I was much more interested in the death and burial at sea of Bin Laden than the wedding of Kate Middleton. I tried to find some interest. I felt obligated to at least TRY. But… eh.

I spent the day cooking. It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and this year that means a lot of cooking it seems. I don’t mind, really, because I positively LOVE to slice, dice, and chop veggies. I picked recipes that would require much of that. Olives just look more cheerful when they’re sliced like cheerios, right? I’m pretty picky about what gets sliced in what way. It’s calming.

It’s NOT calming when the kids say, “WOW! That! Looks! Actually! GOOD?!”

For them I made a plain baked spaghetti, matchstick celery sculptures supported by blobs of peanut butter, and garlic toast. For me, a veggie/penne  thing. For teachers, a chicken tetrazzini and a baked spaghetti made with my great grandmother’s spaghetti sauce recipe.  The kids call celery “salary.” But they ate it and loved it and got to play with their food and so I don’t care what they call it.

The bad news is that I completely broke the kitchen sink in ways I cannot fix, I melted part of my favorite cutting board, I melted and ruined a clear plastic lid, and I gave in to the extreme temptation to toss all those celery strings into the garbage disposal which is the sort of thing that Mike would be really annoyed about if he were here so I feel a little guilty.

I could hire a professional to fix the sink. But who needs a kitchen sink? And I bet it’s one of those things Mike could fix really quickly if I’ll just wait it out.  Serves me right.

And speaking of THAT.

I had to go face the guy who fixed the vacuum  I broke when I sucked up wet dog puke. I didn’t want to go. I’d learned my lesson. Mike said he would go. A lot. And then forgot. A lot. And then went out of town. A lot. And then I had to go.

The repair guy was darling. Maybe 80, and softspoken. But irritated. Justifiably irritated. I recognized his tone of voice immediately. It’s the one I use on the kids when I am well aware of every detail of something stupid they have done but I’m going to coax the truth out of them by sounding casual, curious, and barely interested. I am GOOD at that.

And so was the vacuum repair man.

“It looks like something wet was sucked up into the filter, here, missy. These aren’t made for that….?” A knowing, faux-kind glance over the top of his bifocals.

“Yes, sir. That was a bad decision. I’m sorry and thank you so much for fixing it!”

He had no way of knowing that I learned my lesson the moment i was hopping and covered head to toe in cold wet, ground up dog vomit that I would NEVER be repeating this mistake. He didn’t know.  He couldn’t be SURE I had really learned this lesson at all by this point.

He caught me off guard by explaining the cost of my bill would be for the price of the Dyson filter, and that was all. I thought we were on safer ground. I did not think twice when he handed me something and then looked down and saw that I was holding the OLD FILTER WITH THE VERY OLD DOG PUKE still all over it. In my hands. I jumped. I dropped it. I yelped.

He pretended I had done none of that and asked if I’d like to keep my old filter or if I’d prefer he throw it away there.

With a straight face.

I was impressed.

Irritated RIGHT BACK, but impressed. I wondered how many kids he had. How many grandkids. Because this guy was GOOD.

He insisted on carrying out my vacuum and then he stood in the parking lot with me and talked about what tomatoes we were both planting this year. He turned into the sweet, friendly man I’d assumed he was before he decided to subtly reprimand me like a bratty granddaughter. We stayed there by my car in the bright sunlight and talked about the weather and plants and he only went back to work when there wasn’t a trace of a hard feeling to be found on either side.

Lesson learned.