Thursday, January 17, 2008

Suffer Unto Me

When a man has been felled by a debilitating disease like my current cold, there is nothing like the warm embrace of one's family. This is the Snag family, however, so the day had its own peculiar cast.

After spending most of the afternoon on the couch staring blankly into space, the first sick day I've taken in recent memory, the phone rang around 3:30. It was the middle child.

"Dad, I'm done with band. Come pick me up."

Yippee. The temperature outside is approaching absolute zero, I have a fever, and my kid doesn't want to wait for the activity bus.

"What if I was dead? Then I couldn't pick you up," I said.

"If you were dead we could afford servants," he replied. He was calling from the middle school office so that means another entry in the permanent record.

"Fine. I'll come get you."

On the way home, we passed the elementary school. My youngest son and his best friend walk home to our house everyday, a three block trip that usually takes half an hour. It's like Jeffy's wanderings in Family Circus, with more punching. Trying to be nice, because that's the kind of dad I am, I waited on the street to offer them a ride home.

After an interminable delay, I saw them on the other side of the street.

"Hey," I yelled, rolling down the window. "Over here, you pinheads."

They turned and gaped at the car without recognition. I waved at them frantically. Still they stared.

My middle son muttered, "God, they're dumb."

Finally, one of the other kids they were with acknowledged us by picking up a snowball and taking aim.

"Get that idea out of your tiny little brain," I hollered. He dropped the snowball while the other parents and kids walking home watched me nervously.

"It's my dad," said my youngest, recognition dawning on him.

"Peekaboo," I said, holding my hands in front of my face. "Hurry up and get in the damn car."

One would think a fourth grader would look both ways before crossing the street. One would think wrong. My boy started to dart across the road as a car turned the corner.

"Stop!" I shouted.

He froze, saw the car, and retreated back to the sidewalk.

"Forget it," I said, putting the car in drive. "I'll see you at the ranch."

When he and his friend got home ten minutes later we had a pointed and, we hope, fruitful discussion about traffic safety. I then retired downstairs to nurse my self-pity.

After dinner I wanted nothing but to watch a movie on the TV I love so much. My middle boy's kind of a movie buff too and he happily agreed to keep me company.

"What are you going to watch?" asked my Lovely Bride. "Maybe I'll join you."

"'Resident Evil'," I said.


"Yeah, the third one. 'Extinction.' Don't worry, it's mostly zombie violence."

Surprisingly, she chose not to join us. We still managed to have a rollicking good time, with the youngest joining us just in time for high fives all around as a crowd of zombies was incinerated.

Meanwhile, my oldest was working on a class project for some kind of life experience thing they do in high school nowadays instead of math or literature.

"Are they going to teach you to make hooch?" I asked him at the beginning of the quarter.

"You're an idiot," he replied lovingly.

Anyway, his most recent project required him to bake an apple pie and have it critiqued by a parent. I paused the movie and asked him if I could have a slice.

"No, Mom can," he said. "She's nicer than you."

"True," I acknowledged. "Can I have the leftovers?"

When the Lovely Bride finished her pie she was supposed to write a short note on a form sent home by the teacher.

"Delicious," she wrote. "He's made pies before."

My son threw up his hands. "If my teacher wanted stupid comments, the form would have asked for them. She just wanted a normal comment." He proceeded to white out everything besides "delicious."

As their squabble intensified I returned to the living room and turned up the volume on the movie. Ah, zombies, that's the ticket.

When the movie ended I shooed the two youngest to bed and went to catch up on work email from the day. I may have the worst cold in history but I remain a dedicated employee. The phone rang. It was my mother.

"I'm going on a trip," she announced.

"Hooray for you," I said.

"There's no reason to be snotty," she replied. "I just found out today. I leave in a few weeks."

"Where's this one going?" I asked.

"I start in Cambodia. Then Tibet, India, Africa, Egypt, Jordan, and Morocco."

"Say hello to the Khmer Rouge for me."

"Don't be an idiot," she said. I seem to get that a lot.

"Which one of your grandchildren are you bringing with you?" I bleated plaintively.

"I'm sorry, I'm having trouble hearing you," she said. "You sound like you have a cold. My show is starting, have to run." She hung up.

I returned to the living room to find my Lovely Bride and my oldest watching television.

"Can I switch to the basketball game?" I asked.

They looked at me.

"Sorry," I said, backing out of the room. "I'm an idiot."


Anonymous said...

No respect, man. No respect!

Anonymous said...

where in india exactly is grandma snag visiting?

Snag said...

Grandma's going to the Taj Mahal. It's one of these trips where an historian or an anthropologist or some damn thing travels with the group so they hit a lot of the "big sites." Angkor Wat, the Pyramids, Petra, etc.

Kathleen said...

I wonder what kid of life lesson is supposed to be learned by baking a pie and having one's mother say "delicious!"? Maybe I am too old.

Anonymous said...

ah... well thats a good thousand miles away from me. but the thing is so damn beautiful, totally worth it.