Not So Simple

Yesterday, I was scheduled to sit at the desk in the museum, so I rode to work with my husband. When he was late leaving his office due to a telephone conference, I, of course, had to wait for him, which isn’t usually a problem. But last night I had to attend practice for our Christmas program.

So, our answer to the dilemma of cooking and eating dinner in the fifteen minutes I would have at home was to grab a pizza from a convenience store between work and home.

Apparently, that was the incorrect answer.

Because, while waiting in line to pick up the pizza, we heard the following discussion from the two in the kitchen:

“They ordered a large sausage and pepperoni.”

“The pepperoni pizzas are there. The sausage pizzas should be finished in a moment.”

“No, they wanted sausage and pepperoni on the same pizza.”

“On the same pizza? Maybe the sausage is hiding under the pepperoni.”

Two heads bent over a large pizza, as they sliced through the cheese in the hopes of discovering disguised sausage.

“I remember making sausage and pepperoni.”

Finally, the two had to concede that they evidently had no large pizza with both sausage and pepperoni to give us, but they would immediately start one. And they offered us the bill so we could go ahead and pay and lessen our extended wait by a few minutes, anyway.

But as we were standing at the cash register, from the kitchen we heard, “So . . . sausage and pepperoni? One sausage, one pepperoni? Oh, on the same pizza?”

Although my husband’s eyes bugged out a little, he waited until we were back in the car to burst into laughter.

So simple. And yet, apparently, so complicated.

Just like life.

Well, my life anyway.

And that’s why I laugh.

 

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Barbecue Sauce with Compliments

Last night, I prepared roast beef with potatoes and carrots for dinner for probably only about the third or fourth time in my life. Then I remembered why I rarely made the dish.

Younger is not a dedicated fan of roast beef.

“I don’t hate it, Mom,” he assured me with a shrug. “I just don’t really like it.”

But then, later, as I worked on my computer, engrossed in writing a Christmas play, Younger wandered into the living room. “Mom, the reason I don’t really care for roast beef is because I feel like you chew it and chew it then finally just have to give up and swallow,” he told me. “But –”

And with the upturn in his voice, I was totally preparing myself for him to tell me my roast beef was chewable, a compliment of sorts, one I would have accepted, as I have no illusions of myself as a cook.

I straightened my shoulders a little.

I started to smile.

“But,” he continued, “if you put a little barbecue sauce on it, it just slides right down.”

Some sons brag on their mommas’ cooking.

Mine, they apparently suggest barbecue sauce to help it all go down.

That’s lovely.

Just absolutely, perfectly, fine-and-dandy lovely.

The Puddle of Nihilism

Every semester, for the first essay in Composition 1, following the design of the class, I ask each student to share an experience and analyze the impact the experience had on his or her life. And, of course, the experiences vary wildly from graduation or a senior trip to a grandmother dying to divorce and addictions to even child prostitution.

And, while I appreciate and respect every single student’s particular trust and courage in sharing his or her story with me, I admit that I am sometimes overwhelmed with serious, dark topics and the sometimes inevitable conclusion of “And I learned not to take life for granted.”

This semester, Younger is taking the same class in high school, receiving dual credit. He wrote, expressively in my opinion, of the experience that taught him intelligence actually requires work and study to be fully realized.

Apparently, his teacher offered the students in Younger’s class the opportunity to share their stories with the class in exchange for extra credit. And Younger thought he might like the extra credit.

“But then the first person read his essay, Mom,” Younger told me, his eyes wide.

“Did grandma die?” I asked.

“Every essay, Mom. Death, depression, and suicide. I couldn’t follow those essays with mine, Mom. I spent an entire paragraph on the weight of a duffel bag.”

“You might have — ”

“No, no,” he interrupted me. “The guy next to me wrote on a camp he went to. He had fun. When the other students started reading their essays, his face just –” Younger swiped a hand in front of his face, starting high at his forehead and ending below his chin, his facial muscles following the downward movement. “His face just fell. He didn’t read his essay, either, Mom.  I mean, some essays were good, but all of them were sad.  And,” he continued, “I started to feel sorry for my teacher.”

“You don’t feel sorry for me. I read those every semester, too. I have had to interrupt a student’s narrative describing grandma’s last days to explain the use of a comma splice. Which makes me feel like a genuine grammar Nazi — ‘so sorry grandma died, tough stuff, but you can’t use a comma this way.’ ”

“But, Mom, Mr. English was right there, right then. And I felt sorry for him.  And the other students were like, ‘Ooooh, that’s so deep.’ ” He dropped his voice a bit to quote one student, ” ‘And I was like a bird flying high above my problems.’ And then the others were like, ‘Ooooh, that’s so deep.’ And I’m like, no, no, you’re delusional and procrastinating.”

“Younger –”

“People mistake dark for deep, Mom. Nihilism can be a puddle.”

Well.

Perhaps I should consider using Younger’s words of wisdom next semester when I once again introduce this essay to a new gathering of students —

People mistake dark for deep. Nihilism can be a puddle.

Or maybe I’ll just try harder to get Younger to feel sorry for me.

That might have actual entertainment value.

 

 

 

That Thing

Younger identifies three categories of vehicles — cars, trucks, and vans. I have encouraged him to add a few categories, but he is happy with his three.

“Younger,” I have muttered with exasperation. “One day, you will witness a crime, and you will tell the cops that the criminal jumped into a white van, and meanwhile, he’s escaping detection in a white Chevy Blazer.”

But he says the odds of him witnessing a crime are low, so he sticks with his categories.

The other day, we were circling the school’s parking lot at halftime of the football game, watching for fans leaving early, when the lights of a van flashed in the darkness. Circling around one block of cars, we came back to search for the empty space.

“Is that where the van was parked?” I asked Younger, frowning.

“Yeah,” he assured me.

“Huh,” I mumbled. “I thought it was farther down the row.”

“Huh-uh, it was parked right by that thing.”

In the process of pulling into the empty space, I touched my brakes to glance at Younger then follow his pointing finger.

I blinked. Twice.  Unlocked my jaw.

Then finished angling into the spot.

“Younger,” I said quietly, killing the engine with a twist of the key. “I think you may be the only male in America who would point at a Corvette and call it ‘that thing.’ ”

“It’s just a car, Mom,” he reminded me.

Well, yeah, sure, just a so-shiny-you-can-spot-it-in-the-dark, blue, convertible, fairly expensive, sports . . . car.

The Corvette.

Or, you know, more commonly known as “that thing.”

 

 

Be Batman

Tuesday was registration day for seniors, so Younger and I spent a half an hour at his high school as he dragged himself from table to table.

At the first stop, the ladies gave Younger his schedule and said, “They have you in ceramics, Younger.”

“Uhhhnhhh,” Younger drawled, reluctantly accepting the paperwork. “No.”

So, we had to make a quick stop at the counselor’s table.

Eventually, we made it to the last stop — his picture for the yearbook. I tried to straighten his tie and comb his hair, while he ducked and grumbled, mortified. Then, with me laughing at him, he walked over to stand in front of the screen for his last school picture.

Afterward, we took a trip to the grocery store. And Younger, who had been slumped in his seat, suddenly straightened at the sight of a bicyclist riding against traffic, some length of material flapping behind him.

“Is that Batman?” he questioned, peering closer. “Is it? Oh.” He deflated. “It’s a vest. I thought it was a cape. I was excited for a moment.”

I’m not sure if he was excited at the prospect of seeing Batman or at the prospect of seeing some nut who thought he was Batman.

But a skinny guy in a flapping, yellow vest riding a wobbly bike the wrong direction is apparently a severe disappointment in Younger’s entertainment realm.

He’s a hard one to please.

 

Balancing Act

Younger had to entertain himself last night at the restaurant. So he begged a penny off of me and confiscated both of our forks.

Balancing Forks 2

He then trapped the penny between the tines of the two forks, pointing in opposite directions, then balanced his creation on the lip of his soda mug.

Balancing Forks 1

He was impressed with himself.

I asked him, “Do you know how many hands have touched that penny? And now that penny is wedged into my fork?”

“Well,” he drawled, “after a while, the number of hands is immaterial.”

He’s not nearly as clever as he thinks he is.

Well, he might be as clever as he thinks he is.

But he’s not as funny as he thinks he is.

I better not die laughing, anyway.

Feel My Pain

Despite breaking my heart and quitting football, Younger had continued to take a weights class until last semester, when he simply could not fit one in his schedule. At the start of the new semester a few weeks ago, he was able to once again join the class, although he did so with much trepidation after missing several months of workouts.

And now when I ask him to perform simple tasks — feed the dogs and cats, throw his trash away, actually put his plate in the dishwasher — I hear, “But my muscles, Mom — they hurt.”

Apparently not satisfied with the level of sympathy he was receiving one day, he decided to elaborate. “Mom, I don’t think you understand just how much I pain I am in. I woke up in the middle of the night last night because I rolled over.”

Then this morning, as we prepared to leave the house, I asked, “You have everything you need for weights today?”

“Yeah,” he mumbled.  “Except for muscles, endurance, and a will to live.”

One class I know he doesn’t need — drama.

He’s already got that all figured out.