Note: I’m almost done with NaNoWriMo (two more days!) so, hopefully, I’ll get back to writing fresh posts shortly. My spreadsheets indicate that I haven’t shared the following bit in almost five years, but there’s also a faint bell in my brain that I may have thrown it out there since then. In either case, this is an excerpt from my second book, “Unexpected Wetness”. Enjoy.
Chapter One: Security Breach
So here’s the deal: Mom called me early last week. Would it be okay if she brought some of my nieces and nephews down for the weekend? And then we could all go to Six Flags on Saturday. Won’t that be fun?
Me, after pulling the hot poker out of my eye so it wouldn’t bang against the phone while I talked: “That would be great. I can’t think of anything else in my life that I would rather do. Thank you for thinking of this.” Then I pause for drama. “But, I’ll need to check with Terry and make sure we don’t have anything planned.”
Mom: “Okay, just let me know. The kids are REALLY excited about this. But it’s okay if you have other plans.” (Translation: You better have a fantastic excuse that would justify the prevention of your family from spending some quality time together. And we will cut you off in a heartbeat if we smell a lie.)
Me: “Oh, I think it’s okay. I just need to check. Call you later tonight? Okay. Love you, bye.” Click.
I wept openly for 30 minutes.
Later that evening, Terry waltzes in the door, completely unaware that a Great White is circling the house and getting closer. I act all domestic and attentive, which is a dangerous move because I normally don’t do such things, but he seems to be okay. Then I proffer him a beer. Then another one. And another one. He finally realizes something is up, belches, and asks “What’s going on? Do I need to be worried?”
Me: “Glad you asked. Well, Mom called and wants to bring down some of the kids this weekend and go to Six Flags. And she’s serious about this. As in, I think they’ve already packed.”
To his credit, Terry only pales slightly. “How many are we talking about?”
Me: “Four nieces and nephews. Plus my sister Roni Jean. And Mom, of course.”
A few moments of silence while he absorbs, then: “Well, let’s chart it out and consider the odds.” He reaches down and pushes a fancy red button on one of the 47 remote control devices that we own.
One of the walls in the den slides away, revealing our secret tactical planning room wherein social and familial decisions are made. We slip into the room and take our seats at the command table, while well-paid staffers rush about gathering intel which they collate and present to us in matching binders.
We review the documents, the ink barely-dry.
Terry: “Well, if this structural assessment is correct, we would only have to reinforce the foundation of the house at stress points A2, B9 and C12. That’s not too bad. There was a lot more work involved when we hosted the Save the Whales benefit last year. Still surprised that they brought an actual whale. Didn’t see THAT coming.”
Me: “True enough. Okay, what are the stats with the Nutritional Deployment side of things? We have two teenagers, one tween, and a single-digit activist who can eat a side of beef and not even belch. Plus Mom and Roni Jean. And us. We eat a lot, because we have issues, especially when strange people are in our house.” I turn to the assembled staff. “Underlings, what’s the Risk Analysis?”
One of the lesser staffers lets out a squeak of uncertainty as she races forward, awkwardly tripping over a benign extension cord before she places the briefing on the consultation table. A more-seasoned employee would not respond in such an unprofessional manner. We’ll probably have to let her go, but we’ll do that later.
I review the newly-arrived document. It’s professionally done, but still, we had to endure squeaking and tripping and I’m not pleased with that. “Okay, the analysis indicates that we need provisions from Kroger, Target, Sinclair’s Grain and Feed, Tia Stella’s Enchilada Emporium, and Amy’s House of Tofu Satisfaction. Let’s get rid of the tofu. I don’t care what they do with that mess, it’s not real food.”
The mega-computers on the surrounding walls bleep into activity as this pronouncement is calculated into the battle plan. Fresh copies of the adjusted logistical and planning documents are quickly shoved into our slightly-bored hands, our water glasses are refilled, and a tuxedoed man discreetly slips into the room and begins softly playing Gershwin tunes on a piano that I hadn’t really noticed before.
Me: “Okay, it’s getting a little bit late. I need to call my mother in a few minutes, and I don’t have all the critical statistics. Terry, where are we with the Psychological Impact profile?”
Terry, wiping sweat off his brow: “The data is inconclusive. We need more input.” Terry glares at the ring of staffers surrounding the table. “Why is this report incomplete?”
Two of the staffers burst into tears. Another staffer bravely steps forward. “Sirs, we tried our best to get professional psychological advice from esteemed practitioners, but considering the lateness of the hour, we only made one connection. You might not be particularly thrilled, but it’s the best we could do.” She then punches a button on one of the 47 remotes.
The 85-inch widescreen monitor before us bursts into life.
It’s Dr. Phil, grinning away in his boring suit. “Hey there, Texas homosexuals. I’m really happy you asked for my advice, because I love telling everybody how to live their lives. The first thing you need to do is ask yourselves WHY there is so much anger in your-”
I hit the “End Trans” button on my personal remote, the one with the “Glee” bling that I had to specially order. Dr. Phil fades into darkness, which is where he should stay. I turn to the staffers. “Are you kidding me? Dr. Phil?”
The line of staffers just stands there, looking everywhere but my direction.
Me: “Could you NOT get Oprah?”
One of the staffers takes a suicidal plunge: “But Oprah discovered Dr. Phil. Isn’t it sort of the same thing?”
You poor little wretch. Leave this house immediately. You are dead to me.
Me: “Anybody else want to say something that will immediately end their careers?”
They do not. They don’t want to say anything. They only want to know what they did at what point in the Decision Tree of Life that led to them leading sad little lives as third-rate intelligence analysts in a bunker that is not even underground but is instead located in a former linen closet that reeks of verbena.
Me: “Find Oprah. Now.”
There’s a flurry of activity, and ten minutes later the widescreen blinks back into life.
We now have Oprah in high-definition. Judging by the jacked-up hairdo and the disarray on her coffee table, she really wasn’t expecting this live broadcast. (And hey, is that Gail in the background, pretending that she’s not tidying up the place even though she really is?) Oprah: “What do you queens want? I’ve got ‘Iron Chef’ on the TiVo.”
Me: “Sweetie, did you get our fax?”
Gail snatches up a piece of paper and shoves it at Oprah. She glances at it, and then tosses it aside. “So you want to know if it’s okay for your mother to bring relatives to your house?”
Oprah sighs. “You will do whatever it takes to make your family HAPPY! Do you understand me?”
Chastened, we both nod vigorously.
Oprah: “Good. So are we done here? I’ve got important things to do.” Right then, there’s a chirpy ding as the microwave announces that the Jiffy Pop is ready. Gail scurries off to attend to this development.
Terry and I wish Oprah the best, and then she’s gone. We leave Control Central and head back to the den, which causes the secret wall to roll back into place and the multitude of staffers to go back into hibernation.
Terry: “Call your mom.”
I whip out my Blackberry Pearl Flip (not meant to be a product endorsement, more a reflection of how old the original blog post for this story really is, as if the “fax” reference didn’t do enough carbon-dating), and I punch a button.
Mom answers. “So, are we good for this weekend?”
There’s a brief pause during which I can’t breathe, with fear and indecision squeezing my lungs. I glance at Terry. He’s running as fast as he can, headed toward an obscure part of the house where he can claim no part in this conversation, and thereby retain all legal rights to torment me when things go terribly wrong. Smart move, actually. Just wish I had thought of it first.
Me: “Why, yes we are. Can’t wait to see you!”
Mom: “Great! We’re gonna have so much fun! By the way, did you see that first fax on Oprah’s floor?”
Me, perplexed: “First fax?”
Mom: “I’ve got connections. And I got to her before you did. Don’t forget that Moms always know what their children are thinking. And they are always one step ahead.”
Me: “So you…”
Mom: “Yes, I did. Sweet dreams, son. Can’t wait to get down there. And if the sleeping arrangements are a little tight, I can always bunk with you and Terry. Love you!”
Shameless Plug: You can get a digital copy of this book (it’s only a buck, folks) here.
Previously published, no changes made for this re-share, other than updating the notes.
Story Behind the Photo: I took this shot at the Alcazaba de Malaga. It’s obviously a drain, which fits the “Wetness” angle of the book title, and I was initially intrigued by the ladder, offering an escape out of the mess below, which fits the story.
Categories: My Life