Instead of saying "hello," like a normal person would, my girlfriend answers the phone this way. It makes me laugh.
"Oh no you weren't," I reply. "You're a woman - destined to do laundry, chauffeur children, scrub toilets, and still … make a difference in the world. But go unnoticed until something goes wrong. Then you graciously accept the blame and move forward, all while grinning broadly and carrying a tray of muffins."
"Damn straight. I'm the whole kit-n-caboodle, babe. And how is the world treating you these days?"
I contemplate sharing with her the tale of Ben's new car seat, then decide to go for it. "Well, Ben's new car seat was delivered today," I begin.
It's a seat that's designed for children with motor coordination issues, among other special needs. At 5 years of age and still with a touch of cerebral palsy, Ben has long outgrown his five-point harness, yet isn't ready for a typical booster seat. I special-ordered this particular car seat and have been anxiously awaiting its arrival since last June. When the gentleman from the company brought it in, I almost fell over. Partly because the thing was gigantic, but mostly because hefting this enormous piece of equipment was Antonio Banderas.
"Um … can you please show me how this works?" I stuttered. But then I became easily distracted by his accent.
"Ah Madam … I am … how you say … no good weeth theens like-a thees. For you, though? I shall try." I watched him as he buckled, strapped and snapped pieces together incorrectly.
"That's OK," I said wiping drool from my chin, "I can figure this out." When the Antonio impersonator left I peered down and knew within seconds there was no way I could assemble it to Ben's proportions, let alone get it into my truck. Easily, it will take up a seat and a half. I pity the kid who has to ride next to him, crowded by fluff and padding.
"Not much to say, except I think Antonio Banderas delivered it, "I tell my friend, then add at the last minute, "I'm coming over."
When I arrive at her place she has conveniently set up two barstools at a high table in her back yard. She ushers me over to take a seat. "Sit down, sit down. Let's play Dr. Phil."
"Noooo," I whine. "Be someone else, like a real journalist. Diane Sawyer or Babba Wawa."
"No, Carolyn." Her voice is now baritone as she assumes the role. "I'm Dr. Phil and we're going to talk about you here today." She smiles out at the yard, seeing an audience, I presume.
"Well, fine. You look exactly like him anyway."
After a brief pause to glare at me, she begins. "I sense you have a great deal on your mind. You are confused and suffering from high anxiety. I can help. Why don't you tell me why you are such a troubled young lady?"
I feign surprise. "What? I thought I was here for a makeover!" I address the same invisible audience.
She tries again. "Do you think hiding behind jokes and sarcasm is your way of protec -"
"Knock-knock," I cut in, then start snickering.
"You are quite obviously in the 'rebellious teen' stage," she concludes between hoots. "You need help!"
"Good. Send me to boot camp, or I'll TP your Dr. Phil House."
After a few more laughs I have to leave to pick up the kids from school. I cart them home, fix the troops a snack, then start another load of laundry. I go through the mail, tidy up the office and then load the dishwasher. Strangely, I feel content and happy. I think about my good friends, my good family and my good life in general, despite all the chaos and havoc. When the phone rings next I pick up and say, "I wasn't destined for better than this!" And I mean it.
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