Monday, January 20, 2014


Big portions of my conscious life are devoted to inquiries and concerns about less than interesting subject matter.  Once harmless topics of conversation, they soon become epic battles of will between the Killian Brothers and myself.

I went through a phase last summer where all I did was talk about deodorant and toothpaste.  It got to the point where I couldn't put a sentence together without including these two seemingly innocuous grocery list items.

Me:  Did you brush your teeth?
Boy 1:  I think so.  Wait, no.  I mean, yes.
Me:  The whole mouth or just your favorites?
Boy 1:  All of them.  They're clean.
Me:  I'll be the judge.  Open.

Me:  Let's see the teeth.
Boy 2:   I just ate my vitamin.
Me:  Gross.  Get upstairs and rebrush them.
Boy 2:  But I already did.
Me:  Do it again.  Are you wearing deodorant?
Boy 2:  I think I forgot.
Me:  Put deodorant on while you're up there.

Me:  Teeth.  Open.
Boy 1:  You're gonna like what you see.
Me:  I hope so.  What's on your shirt?
Boy 1:  Probably deodorant.
Me:  And on the pants?
Boy 1:  Looks like toothpaste.
Me:  Go change your clothes.

Boy 2:  Mom, my pants are wet.
Me:  How'd this happen?
Boy 2:  I'm pretty sure I sat in toothpaste.
Me:  Show me your teeth so I can knock them out.
Boy 2:  No, don't!
Me:  Are you at least wearing deodorant?
Boy 2:  Crud.  I forgot.
Me:  Unbelievable.

If I drank a refreshing brown soda for every time I mentioned toothpaste and deodorant in July alone, I'd probably still be in the hospital right now, having my stomach pumped.


Fortunately, the dogs for which I'm responsible are still young pups.  They are capable of new tricks.  Most of the time, however, I feel as though I am attempting the same stratagem, over and over.  Just changing one word, every few months. These days, that word is coat.

Where is your coat?
Put your coat on.  Zip up your coat.
Open your coat.  Hang your coat up.
It's winter.  You'll need a coat.
What do you mean, you lost your coat?
Help me find your brother's coat.
What happened to this coat?  It's filthy.
Pick up this bloody coat!

They put the coats on.  They go outside and take the coats off. They're never wearing the coats long enough for body temperatures to regulate so that smart decisions can be made as to whether or not they even need them. They tie the coats around their waists.  They drag them along on the sidewalk. They wear the hoods only - now, there's a fly look!

These mistreated articles of clothing just get flung on a pile with all the other coats that belong to all the other boys whose mothers agonized over which coats their sons might enjoy wearing.  Really, like it matters.

I purchased a gorgeous print on the internet.  A beautiful abstract tree.  I put the picture in a store bought frame and asked David to hang it over the couch in one of the rooms upstairs.
"This is an aneurysm," said Dave.
"What do you mean?  I thought it was a tree," I told him.
"It's an x-ray of a brain aneurysm.  See the R at the bottom of the page?  That's the orientation of the image."
"You don't say.  Now, I like it even more," I diagnosed.

"We have to get a better frame for that print," Dave suggested recently.  "It's all wavy and catches every bit of light from the window.  It looks like shit."
"Great.  When can we go?" I asked.
"Let's wait until the new year," he said.  "After we finish paying for Christmas."
"Okay.  But come with me.  It's very heavy."

"Guys, get down here.  We have to go to Michael's," I yelled from the kitchen yesterday morning.
"Do we have to wear coats?"  Desmond asked.
"Well, it's 28 degrees outside," I reminded him.  "So, yes."

David gingerly carried the artwork to the rear of the Traverse.  I opened the hatch so he could place it gently in the wayback.  That's when I saw the two coats.  The coats they had just put on two minutes before and immediately took off once they got in the car, like a couple of pampered supermodels.  I felt the blood vessel wall in my brain weaken under the weight of a gigantic balloon-like bulge.  I stumbled blindly along the length of the passenger side, reached for the door handle and got in.

"Put those goddamn coats on," I slurred, as David pulled out of the driveway.
"But Mom, we're hot," said Rory.
And that's when my aneurysm burst.

I turned around to face my oblivious children, hollering like a maniac.  I gaped at my husband, perhaps hoping to be coaxed away from the slippery ledge of bad parenting.  But he, too, wore the crazed look of a madman, so sick to death of talking about these fucking coats.  He let them have it, as well.  And I will admit, I encouraged him.  Lucky for these boys, we were wearing seatbelts - for their safety.

We pulled into the Stonecrest parking lot, depleted of vitality.  We quietly exited the vehicle.  The cold air felt wonderful on my red hot cheeks.  The four of us walked into the store and back to the framing department.  The kids wandered off to the book section, still pale and shaky from our verbal assault.

Thank God, the young man at the counter was cooperative.  He prepared the order, as per my specifications.  I chose an interesting black frame with subtle red piping and non-reflective glass.

"What is this, by the way?  A tree?" he asked.
"It's an x-ray of my aneurysm," I informed him.  "It happened a while ago."
"Well, you look marvelous," he offered.
"Thank you," I replied.  "I'm feeling much better."

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