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on the tail end of three grueling days of work, i came home to the following scenario.
  • i was to take alex on a thursday night boy scout field trip to a fire house.
  • marty asked me to look after a friend's son on the field trip and take him home afterwards.
  • marty had a meeting and was to be out for the evening.
  • a sitter bailed on us which meant anthony was with me at the fire house
  • and bella had a choice of going with marty or me and didn't want to do either.
bella's indecision caused a frustrating debate at our rushed dinner table. she wanted to stay home. after we explained that wasn't an option, she asked to hang out at the library which was conveniently across the street from the fire house the boys and i were to be at. shortly after this was decided and everyone was racing to finish their meals before we had to leave, i paused to make the following statement. sadly the comment is representative of me when i'm underslept and overworked which is another way of saying tired-troy is capable of lovely conversations like this.

TROY
and, bella, since you're going to be at the library by yourself, if you run into friends, i don't want you actin' the fool.

BELLA
actin' the fool? i don't ever act the fool.

TROY
good. i'd prefer you didn't.

BELLA
i don't even think i know what actin' the fool means.

TROY
oh, you know what actin' the fool means.

i know, charming. i should have known right there the best move was to cancel the evening plans. all of them. but i didn't. instead, we finished eating, wiped our mouths, threw our napkins on our plates, stood from the table and filed out the front door like a football team taking the field.

the first thing my set did was drop bella off at the library. before parting, i kissed her on the forehead, reminded her, with a smile, not to act the fool, and watched her turn and bounce up the stairs. the boys and i then exited the library to head across the street. the second we stepped outside anthony said he had to go pee AND poop. he tightly grabbed his crotch and fidgeted uncomfortably. i studied him for a moment, looked across the street and said we could make it to the fire station (forward momentum is vital). we quickly got there but were met with nothing but locked doors. i peered in windows but saw no one to help us, or, surprisingly, the group of scouts we were to meet. i checked my watch then glanced back at an even more uncomfortable-looking anthony. we ran back across the street to the library.

in the bathroom was a man washing his face and armpits in the sink. i guided anthony into the stall and quietly delivered the oft-repeated instruction that he should touch nothing (!!!). this is a desperately empty plea to a boy who would pick up a desiccated dog turd and ask what is was and if i too thought it looked funny. he touched the stall doorknob, the seat, the toilet paper dispenser, and the rim (!!!!!). the chemicals in my body kicked in, putting me in a mild form of coma so i could survive the public restroom experience and continue to feel love for my youngest, and now irreversibly soiled, child. once on the seat i stood back in the handicapped stall space to let him do his business. he glanced up at me and grimaced he needed privacy. of course. so i stepped to the other side of the door for the fourteen seconds it takes for him to move his hamster sized digestive tract and call, "i'm done". i stepped back in, wiped him, dressed him, washed his mitts, and guided him out the room. we almost made it out of there before alex audibly asked why that man was taking a bath in the sink and why didn't he do it at his home. the only good side to this uncomfortable moment is that it wasn't bella as she would have invited the man to our house to use our more comfortable and private facilities.

we returned to the firehouse. there was a cop standing outside smoking a cigarette. he asked if we needed help. i said i was looking for a boy scout troop that was to tour the fire station. he said he'd check. he unlocked the fire house door and called in. a fire-woman came forward and said, "oh the boy scouts are at house number two." the cop thanked her and closed the door. he told me they were at house number two. i asked what that meant. he said it meant they are at house number two which is the "other" fire house on the "other" side of town.

oh.

bella would later chastise me for not reading emails or instructions more closely but that moment was still an hour or so away. at this moment we were standing at the wrong fire house. i announced to the boys that we were headed back to the library. we passed the thresh-hold for the third time in the last eleven minutes. we headed upstairs and found bella spread out on a table working through a homework packet. i was duly impressed. i collapsed in a chair across from her. with a face that did not mask her disappointment at seeing us back so soon, she asked what happened. i explained we were at the wrong fire house. she groaningly asked if she could stay and she just got setup to do her homework. alex then pleadingly asked if he could get some new books. and anthony, well anthony was already sitting cross-legged in one of the aisles with an open book on his lap and a short queue piled next to him. i dejectedly said i didn't care. the kids woo-hoo'd my surrender and resumed their selected distractions.

the next forty minutes were a bit of a blur. bella read to the boys. anthony got yelled at by a librarian for jumping off a table. bella and alex looked some books up in the computer. i read to anthony. bella finished her homework. anthony got yelled at for repeatedly diving into a pile of bean bags. before anthony got yelled at a third time, it was ten minutes to bath time.

ok guys, it's twenty after. we're leaving in five.

i surprisingly received no resistance. i planned to take the five minutes before the next leg of my evening tour to recoup some strength. i leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes. they were closed approximately three seconds before the blew open, and my body shot forward. SHIT! AIDEN!

aiden was the name of the boy i was supposed to watch at the boy scout tour. it was also the name of the boy who i was supposed to deliver back to his home after the boy scout tour. the kids all immediately sensed my desperation. when i said what happened, they packed up and we were on the move in minutes. we were racing across town towards house number two minutes after that. and a few minutes more i was being told by a nice fireman that i just missed the boys. back in the car. more speeding to his home. as i pulled up, i saw aiden walk past their living room window, still sporting his blue boy scout shirt. my body de-tensed for the first time in the last seventeen minutes. i stopped the car, told the kids to wait and went to the front door. few things top a very wicked 72 hours better than a deluge of profuse apologies chased by a helping of pathetic groveling.

back in the car and driving home is when bella lectured me on the importance of closely reading emails more closely and making sure i understood what i read and noted any points of import. i don't know if i'm proud or embarrassed to say i have actually heeded the girl's advice, and thus far, it has served me well.

UPDATE : after posting this i've been told by two of my friends that i'm lucky bella didn't tell me i needed to stop actin' the fool. they couldn't be more right.

MAR2011

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