The Way Things Go Sometimes

Life doesn't always go smoothly.(spacer)

Ha! Does it ever?!!!

Friday night around 7:00 a friend of Manuel's shows up at the door. He wanted to know if he could sleep over. "Well... okay... I guess..." I said, a little puzzled.

The kid is sort of a 10 year-old, blond haired John Candy. They are watching TV a bit later and Manuel says, "William hasn't had any dinner." We had already eaten, and the dog had finished off what was left of that, so all I had to offer was a bowl of Fruity O's cereal.

The next morning I hear the shower running. "Who's in the shower?" I ask.


He's like an obnoxious uncle who stops for a visit, and the next thing you know he is living here!

Anyway, Saturday morning Manuel had a basketball game, and later that morning Dani's sister Kathy called from her folks,

"Chicken at four o'clock." (Kathy and Dani have this trait in common of coming right to the point).

There is a town called Lad about an hour's drive from here that is supposed to have the world's best chicken. It is famous for it (I am sure you have heard of it! ). And Dani's folks were going to treat us all for dinner. A free meal!!!

Around 2:00 I was feeling pretty sleepy, so I laid down to take a short nap. When I woke up an hour or so later, Dani informed me that Kathy had called again, and the plan now was to be over at the folks' house by a quarter to four.

It was now 3:00 and I decided the kids and I should make a cake.

This was entirely brainless.

But heck, all you had to do was dump the Pillsbury German Chocolate cake mix into a bowl, throw in some water and eggs, mix it for two minutes, and slide it into the oven. How long could it take?!

About twice as long as I had anticipated.

I forgot that whenever you do ANYTHING with kids it always takes twice as long as you think it should.

So instead of the cake getting in the oven at a little after three, it was more like 3:15. Which, with the 35 minutes it needed to bake, meant it wouldn't be done until just about the time we should be leaving...well, actually, more like five minutes AFTER the time we should be leaving...

So the cake is finally in the oven and Dani decides the girls need baths. It's now 20 after three and all of a sudden there are a hundred things that need to get done before we can leave.

D is still at the Y and I have to go pick him up. We have a movie that has to go back (or we pay another $3.00 late fee. I swear they make these late charges up... "Did you know you have $6.00 late fee?" they always seem to say whenever we go to rent a video...).

Half way back home from the Y, D remembers he left his pants there (no, he isn't sitting in the car in his underwear! He had worn a pair of sweats over his shorts...). So we have to go back for those.

By now it is twenty minutes to four. The truth of the matter is we should be leaving for Dani's folks about now.

But I am not even dressed yet. And I look down at the dashboard and realize we are going to have to stop for gas. If we REALLY push it, we MAY get to Grandma's fifteen minutes late...

... and if there aren't any snags....

Yeah right!

So it was only natural that as I was walking in the back door Blackie shot out like a big black cannon ball, bounding through the gate and out of sight...

"BLACKIE!!!" I screamed in utter frustration, "WE DON'T HAVE TIME FOR THIS!!!" (expletives deleted).

Aracely grabbed a hot dog and she and Manuel and I took off after him. Wouldn't you know the neighbor's German Shepherd was also running loose, and the two of them started jumping and chasing each other. There was no way in the world we were going to get Blackie's attention - not even with a Dubuque Plumper.

They shot through the neighbor's backyard. We chased them across the street and they disappeared around the corner of another house. As soon as I got near them Blackie would jump and dance around me and take off again.

"I'M FREE! I'M FREE!!!!"

Fortunately our neighbor's dog is a little better trained then ours, so when she called him he disappeared into the house. Without a playmate to distract him, Blackie found the Plumper a little more appealing and Manuel was finally able to grab him.

"Bad dog!" I shouted at him, as I gave his butt a swat, and marched him back home, my hand very tightly wrapped around his collar. I was boiling.

So we all walk in the door and Dani is beside herself. The house is in chaos. No one is ready to go. "I thought I had made it clear that we were supposed to be over there by a quarter to four?!!! We are supposed to be there NOW - what in the world were you thinking, baking a cake??!!! Well, we might as well forget it. There is no way we are going to be there any way near on time..."

"We can make it," I said (yeah - fat chance!!!), "Just call them up and let them know we'll be a few minutes late..."

"Just forget it," she said in exasperation (I forgot to mention the fact the Manuel had his nose out of joint about something, and had made it his mission for the rest of the day to make sure no one was happy... oh, and since the van is broken we would have all had to squeeze into the little car...).

"Just call them," I pleaded.

"Forget it, I'm not going. You call them,"

I didn't want to let go. I had been pushing for the last hour to get everything done on time - and even though I knew there were still a hundred things to do and not a chance in the world of getting them done, I didn't want to admit it.

By now Dani and I are shouting at each other. The dog is barking, the kids are variously crying and yelling, and I realize Dionel is standing with the phone in his hand. Kathy is on the other end.

"We're running a little late," I say, trying to pretend everything is just fine....

"Oh, man..."

"Um... maybe it would be better if you guys just went without us."

That was that.

Dani disappeared somewhere. The kids stomped out of the kitchen, "Mom! It's all her fault!!!" I was seething. I slumped down onto a chair in the kitchen and just stared at the TV.

But of course it wasn't Mom's fault at all. She was just the one who had called a halt to the charade. It was MY fault. And I knew it.

I gathered the kids into the living room and tried to explain that to them - and how (I added just for good measure) if we had gotten a little cooperation from them none of this would likely have happened.

But they were having none of it, preferring to pull blankets over their heads and put their fingers in their ears.

Well fine, I thought to myself. If you guys want to have things your own way, you can have them your own way. And I just left them to their own devices for the rest of the night. If they wanted to eat, they were going to have to fix it for themselves.

So the rest of the night I sat at down here in the basement at the computer thinking what an awful, miserable life we have here (and what good is all this God stuff anyway), and Dani and I pretended the other didn't exist. She would come down periodically to check the laundry and I acted as though she wasn't there, and she acted as though I wasn't here.

Finally around 8:00 Dionel asked me how to make macaroni and cheese. Apparently he didn't make it so well because Pep came down a while later and said, "Dionel isn't a very good cooker. I ate a little bit of macaroni and then I barfed."

I don't really remember how the rest of the night went, only that by around 10:30 I had come to my senses and realized how silly it all had been, and things were fine again.

The capper to the whole business, as we learned Sunday, was that Kathy had made reservations at the wrong restaurant. We would have gone through all of that, and then driven an hour out of town, only to have dinner DOWN THE STREET from the "The World's Best Chicken"!


by Paul Dallgas-Frey
Spring, 1997

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