Minivan

It seems I may have kept my minivan about a month too long. Last month, I could have traded it in on another car and gotten a thousand dollars toward my purchase. Maybe more. But this month—what with the van’s sudden desire to ask for a new catalytic converter—its value has dropped. To nothing. “It will cost more to fix it than the car is worth,” I was told, and I get it. Which is why I’m not planning to fix it. And that’s why my son and I were discussing the minivan problem.

The minivan is currently the only vehicle we have that can transport furniture, lumber, bikes, camping gear, farm animals… whatever it is we need to haul. Not to mention, more than a few passengers. This was the vehicle that I acquired back in the pre-school years so that my children could bring friends and we could all fit in the same vehicle, even with car seats.

But the minivan problem for W is all about the fact that we now have no way to transport bicycles. Apparently, he is planning many trips over the summer that will require the hauling of two or three bicycles, and the fact that the minivan is no longer functional is a problem. But W’s brain does not work the way the average brain works, so I was not surprised when I was preparing chicken for dinner and W stated, “How about if you get a tank?” He was in the other room, so I wasn’t quite sure I heard him right.

“A tank? Like a military tank?” I questioned.

“Yeah, a military tank. It’d be really cheap to insure. I don’t think you could damage it.”

“But you could definitely hurt other people with it,” I returned. “Insurance is as much about liability as it is about damage to the vehicle. Besides, I don’t think tanks get good gas mileage.”

“Nope. I suspect not. But,” (and his face lit up with the but…) “They are exempt from the gas guzzler tax,” he added, as if that somehow made driving one around town more appealing.

“Nice!” I agreed. “But I’m sure there might be a blind spot or two in a tank,” I continued my litany of reasons not to replace the van with a tank.

“Yeah,” he laughed. “There are a few of those. And it probably doesn’t even go in reverse.” Huh. I’ve never really thought about that.

“And I don’t think your brother would be thrilled about driving a tank to school. Hey C,” I called into the living room. “You wanna drive a tank to school?” Isn’t driving your mother’s minivan bad enough?

“Nope. I’m good,” came his unenthusiastic reply.

“I think it would be great to drive it to the high school,” W continued. “Everyone would get out of your way in a hurry!”

“Well, you’ll be driving in another couple years. You’d have to drive it next….” No doubt, this piece of information might drive home the impracticality of the tank as an option.

In W’s mind a tank might just solve the problem of our mini-van. In my mind, driving a tank would create far bigger problems than not being able to transport bicycles!

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Glasses

There are things I don’t really like about getting older. One of these things is that I now have difficulty functioning without reading glasses within easy reach. Like many people of a certain age, I have several pair of reading glasses stashed in various places in the house. At least that’s the plan. In fact, they all usually end up in the same place. Reading glasses… they have a tendency to wander.

Last week, I was certain I left my reading glasses on the kitchen table when I rushed out the door in the pre-dawn hours to attend an athletic competition with my daughter. My beau had arrived early to join us for the day. After a hello and a brief discussion, we grabbed the various bags, papers, cameras, and coffees and headed out the door.

Later in the day when we returned, I searched the kitchen for my glasses. I know I was exhausted and likely seeing double, but I could not find them anywhere. Not on the table, not on the counter, not in any of the logical places that I would have put them. “Did you, by chance, borrow my glasses before we left this morning?” I asked beau.

He shook his head. “Not that I can remember. I wasn’t here very long.” True. It was unlikely he would have had time, and I couldn’t remember him reading anything.

“I’m sure they are around somewhere,” I shrugged in attempt to reassure myself more than anyone else. Even though it was just a pair of inexpensive readers, it was my favorite pair. “Knowing me,” I continued, “I’ll probably find them in the refrigerator.” Truly, I didn’t suspect that I had left them anywhere they didn’t belong, but with the degree of busyness and distraction in my life, stranger things had been known to happen. I located a different pair of readers, and continued with the progression of the late afternoon.

I was now focused on throwing dinner together, so we could get out to the high school theater performance—the busyness and distraction continued. I cooked some pasta, and I went to the refrigerator for the cheese. When I opened the cheese drawer, I found my glasses, perched on the packages of sandwich meat. I laughed.

I laughed because I actually found my glasses in the refrigerator. And I laughed because I realized I had left my glasses on the table, just as I had thought!

At lunchtime, C had called me, trying to find the mozzarella in amongst several other varieties of cheese in the drawer. I knew I had just bought some, but he wasn’t finding it. While we were on the phone, he removed the drawer from the fridge, placing it on the kitchen table. While we were on the phone, he proceeded to “inventory” the cheese in the drawer as he removed each package. When he returned the cheese to the drawer, it seemed he accidentally included my reading glasses.

Whew! For now, I can rest easy in the fact that maybe, just maybe, I’m not going crazy. At least not yet.

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Exit Poll

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My fourteen year old is in that stage where he doesn’t really want to talk to anyone, especially people he doesn’t know well. Suggest he talk to a teacher about an assignment? Um, no thanks. Ask him to call a store to find out their hours? No way!

So imagine my surprise when he recently started racing to the phone to answer political calls. He picks up the phone, and if he senses there is a real person on the line, he says, “Hullo?” If there is only a recording, he stands still, listening to the message until he gets bored.

If someone is talking to him, asking him questions, he generally acts as though he is trying to back away from the phone. The receiver is held a bit away from his face as he tips his head in the other direction. The conversation usually has a number of statements of, “I don’t know.” Sometimes, he looks to me for guidance, but recently, he has started acting as if he has the answers the caller is seeking.

This evening, the phone rang. No surprise, it was dinnertime. Everyone else in the house was ignoring the phone when W said, “I’ll get it!” and walked to the phone on the wall. “Morristown, New Jersey,” he read from the caller id as he picked up the receiver. “Hullo?” he said in the deep voice that I no longer recognize as belonging to my youngest child.

There was the customary pause as the caller made a pitch about something or other. And then the questioning began. W responded with a perfectly poised, “Well, I am not really sure.”

He listened some more. “I don’t know,” he said into the receiver. The caller, it seemed, was persistent in his pursuit of answers. Finally, I heard W say, “I’m not eligible to vote.”

I was close enough to the receiver to hear the far off voice of the caller respond, “I understand. Thank you for your time.” And he hung up.

W looked at me and smiled. “He asked me who I voted for, so I told him I wasn’t eligible to vote.” I just shook my head and rolled my eyes.

Clearly, the caller did not understand, as he said he did. If he truly understood, he would not have been trying to find out the vote cast by a fourteen-year-old boy.

Phony

Unlike many people I know, I still have a landline phone in my house. I keep it because it is bundled with my cable and internet, but also because it is the receptacle of all sorts of junk phone calls. It is, in essence, the garbage can for phone calls. The only calls I generally answer on that phone are from my mother.

The upcoming election has brought an onslaught of political phone calls. These calls are so frequent that I have stopped bothering to even look at the caller ID.

One day, as the phone rang, W approached, read the caller ID, and stood pondering the phone, still ringing insistently. Finally, he picked it up and said hello.

There was a long pause on this end as he listened to what the caller had to say. “I…” he stopped, unsure of how to handle this situation. “I don’t know,” he responded, the phone falling away from his ear as he attempted to pass it off to me.

I shrugged in response and shook my head, as if to say, Don’t look at me. I didn’t answer it. But he thrust the receiver into my hand, and I had no choice but to take it. Well, I could have hung up…. But I didn’t.

“Hello?” I said, hopeful for something other than a politician or solicitation. The caller began his pitch, asking for money that I do not have. I sighed and hung up, shaking my head at W. “Next time, don’t answer it,” I told him firmly.

As the elections approach, the calls become more frequent, more insistent. One day last week, C was on the couch working on the computer. The phone rang through its cycle of 5-plus rings for the umpteenth time that hour. “Can you unplug the phone please?” he requested.

“No. What happens if someone needs to reach us?” I don’t know what I was thinking when I said that.

“Mom, you are not even answering it. Just unplug it!” He had a point. But then again, maybe the ringing would stop at a reasonable hour, so we could all get some sleep. Not long after this conversation, I left the house for a dance class.

The next morning, I had to call in a prescription refill. It was early in the morning, and the pharmacy has an automated refill line that allows you to call in the refill after hours (or before, in this case). I picked up the phone to dial the number, but there was no dial tone. “Hello?” I said into the silent receiver. Nothing.

I hung up the phone, waited a couple of seconds, and picked it up again. Still nothing. Ugh! I dreaded the call to the cable company—it would take half an hour just to get out of the hold queue. I checked the connections to my handset, but then my eyes fell on the two plugs dangling amongst the other cords.

Ah ha! In my absence, someone had taken care of the persistent politicians. Well, maybe not the politicians per se, but they had severed the communication device from the outside world. Good choice!

I am glad that my children are protecting the privacy and solitude of their home environment. Endless political phone calls every night through the dinner hour will not help them to choose the most effective candidate. In fact, the more calls we receive, the more fed up I become with our current political process. So, bravo to the person who unplugged the phone—I should have done it long ago!

Now, I can’t wait for the politicians to pack up and bring their baggage to another state.

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