Annual Report for 2002
Ah, The Even Year.
A time of systematic harmony.
A time to sit with loved ones and admire all the upheaval you caused the year before.
A time to make plans and paint walls, slipcover sofas and change out toilet seats.
A time when the "Honey Do" list reads, "Honey, Look What I Did."
Forget Chinese philosophers. This was The Year of the Chameleon. Boring became bold, shitty now stunning. Possibility, can you feel me?
Linda formed a Bitch and Fix It Club and convinced her friends to come over and stick paper bags to her walls. It seemed like a great idea when the Bloody Mary’s were flowing. And when Mr. S. asked her what she wanted to do in the newly expanded closet under the stairs, she never thought he would take her seriously and install an aquarium. But it looks great. So, now the house is done, except for the kitchen, and some flooring, and— who am I kidding? As long as Trading Spaces is on the air, we’ll never be done.
We chose to buck the trend of typical summer vacations. Instead, Linda visited the Redneck Riviera in May with a bunch of Playgroup Moms. She will probably never be invited back again as she drank beer before noon, cracked jokes about Alabama and actually swam in the Gulf. A few weeks later, Mr. S. and three pals headed to Myrtle Beach for a Boys Weekend. They drove seven hours to play golf from dusk to dawn on five separate courses in the same shirt for three days straight. Took the golf urge a while to return after that shindig. Linda burned the shirt.
And then, Mr. S. took on a part-time job. Because, as you know, work is a kind of vacation. Especially excessive work. You know, the kind where you sleep three hours after the sun is up and hope you are wearing two of the same shoes when you leave the house. Where Saturday means about as much to you as Thursday, because you have no days off. Yeah, that kind of vacation time.
And speaking of work. Okay. You knew it was only a matter of paragraphs before I said— Mr. S. switched jobs. But, this time we’re not moving. I like it here. The weather is jist fahne, and these are some of the sweetest, most friendly, God-fearing, happy-as-pigs-in-the-muck people I have ever had the pleasure to meet. Damn straight!
It ain’t Schwenkytown, but we have some colorful characters in Lawrenceville, too. Like the old man at the store who confessed that when he was little he heard the radio forecast isolated thunderstorms, and ran to tell his Momma ice was gonna be falling from the sky. He laughs and shakes his head. "Yeah, I learnt a lot since I were six." You’ve gotta wonder why he’s still bagging groceries at Kroger. I’ll bet if I said it was chilly outside, he’d run out there with a spoon.
You also have to wonder if leaning a boxspring mattress up against a mailbox is some kind of hidden code. We had been here less than a week when we arranged for the trashman to take away the boxspring. "Just leave it at the curb," they said. So we did. For three weeks. "We’re coming today," they said. So we waited. In the meantime, every few days, a man or a group of men, and one time a whole family rang our doorbell, each time asking in broken English, "Are you Hispanic?" We said, "No." And they just turned around and left. Sometimes the phone rings and someone says, "Buenos dias," and something about homos and Whitney Houston in bed. And sometimes the phone rings and they ask, "Is this Goody’s Galore?" Depends on who you’re talking to, pal. I really hate to answer the phone now.
As with every move, something got lost, something got broken and nothing was paid over the deductible. This time it wasn’t only our goods that broke, but also our dog’s toe. Poor Kallahan. Three trips to the vet and five hundred bucks later, Mr. S. decided to saw off the cast himself. Once more proving why he needs a Dremel. Damn near took the whole dog’s leg off with that hand saw.
In Kallahan’s three-legged stage, before the cast, we had a visit from a squat little hairy man with an odd accent. He was here to set up the dryer gas line, but insisted on performing Reiki on the dog. Shit, if the funny man can fix my dryer and a dog’s toe with some mystic channeling of forces from the pyramid of Zahn, I am damned willing to give it a try. At least I think that’s what he said he was doing. The dryer’s fine.
Sure wish the funny little man had been around when I hurt myself in that Welcome to the Bowling League Limbo Contest. My team, "Nice Balls, Bad Shoes," was doing fine until I ripped a very long muscle from hip to abdominals. You probably heard me scream in B’ville. Mr. S. kicked all kinds of backwoods butt when he won the hula contest. My man can keep a hoop going like, well, like a teenaged girl. He didn’t win a prize. Not even a beer. But now they all know he’s from L.A.
So, we’re a little confused. Is the boxspring a secret Hispanic calling card? Will ice be falling from the sky and is the little girl in Girl P’s preschool really named ShowandTell, or could it be Shauntell? We may never know.
We do know that in The Year of The Chameleon, you can be whomever you want to be. Linda decided once and for all to be a Writer. And a Bunko Queen, and an Artist, and a Yogi-in-Training. And because the possibility of the Even Year is impartial, equable and straightforward, wealthy CEOS with bad hair got busted, sneaky little accountants cooking books got their fingers burned, and our beloved Martha discovered that people really do care about dirty laundry. And that’s a beautiful thing.
We have made lots of friends and seem to fit right in. Mr. S. plays cards on Fridays for quarters and dollars. Not regular poker, but some Southern games like Christmas Tree and Chase Me ‘Round the Corner, Fatboy. Or maybe it’s not called that. All I know is these guys have weird names like Transmission Bob, Slippery Nick and Johnny Vegas. And Mr. S. comes home with wads of sweaty dollar bills after a night out. Hmmm.
The kids are fine and we like them that way. Boy C rides horses on Wednesdays, reads four books a week and continues to invent spy tools and space- age weapons. Five or six days ago he took a roll of duct tape, a box of nails, a hammer and a few armloads of lumber out to the backyard. We figure he’ll be fine till Spring.
Girl P turned four in July, and started carrying her little orange book, The New Testament, everywhere. A gift from an evangelical carnival worker, she hasn’t been without it for a day. Of course, when she reads it there are three bears and a mean wolf usually doing something in the bathroom. She’s taking after Mommy by writing daily, but it’s hard to read her work. How do you pronounce frofdkna;lhruh, anyway?
We think her obsession with the monkey puppet, Ralph, will probably be an interesting shrink session in thirty years, but meanwhile, Linda is going hoarse from having to "Say it in Ralph’s voice, Mommy!" Ralph can be an annoying little shit. Boy C loves when Ralph bops the other puppets on the head with his wooden spoon. Oh yeah, we are so into the wholesome childhood experience at our house.
Speaking of annoying, Linda sold her first op-ed to The AJC, even though they edited the stuffing out of it and made her look like a snobbish suburban housewife, she got lots of feedback- ( hatemail and snide remarks that led to a second week of publication). She also appeared in BigCityLit, a journal by those people in New York City who find sarcastic wit quite saleable. Hmm. Maybe you can trust your grade school teachers after all.
So, while we wave good-bye to 2002, and prepare ourselves for The Odd Year, let us remember; It’s the little things that are important. Like—Clean socks and sitting in Ted Turner’s box seats. Cold beer in cans and awesome tickets to Aida. Flying across Lake Lanier in someone else’s boat and a great church around the corner. Catching up with your best friend after twenty years and your novel’s forty-thousandth word.
Possibility. We can feel you.Wishing y’all the blessings of an Awesome God, the love of a special person and the warmth of a fire on your back on a cold night.