« My Friends Call Me Mary | Main | Of Cajuns and Sconnies: All Tangled Up »

October 24, 2010

As Innocent As Butterflies

My mailman is selling a trampoline and a dirt bike so I haul Jennifer and Allie over there to check it out. They're bouncing all over it like Mexican jumping beans in a hot skillet. Happy as pigs in slop.

"He has a motorcycle for sale that's just your size," I offer.

"I don't want a motorcycle, daddy." She replies. And that is that. I just thought I'd offer. I'm not going to push it on her. She doesn't want one. That's the end of it. My mom wouldn't let me get a motorcycle while I lived in her house because she worked in the Emergency Room all day trying to reassemble people after their motorcycle accidents. So it was a no-brainer for her.

For me, it's less obvious. I don't believe I know anyone that died in a motorcycle crash. I think that riding a motorcycle around the yard is probably not all that much more dangerous than jumping on a trampoline.

When I got my first bike it was my first form of transportation and it really opened up to the world to me. My mind is etched with these amazing rides since I was 18 and, sure, I've wrecked a few times, but I'm still standing.

But if she doesn't want one, then it ends here. So I hand him some cash for the trampoline and he says he'll bring it tomorrow.

On Sunday, I wake up but I'm not sure when I'm flying out. I always have sort of a vague idea about my travel plans. I'm thinking I fly out at 3:00 p.m., but not certain. Just sort of a gut feeling. So I hope he comes with the trampoline before I have to go.

And he shows up at around 10:00 a.m. and we unload the trampoline and start assembling it. I can tell at a glance how to put it together, but he starts putting it together wrong and I don't say anything. I don't speak because I'm starting to suspect that friendships are the most valuable things we have, and we'll get the trampoline together whether I make an ass of myself or not. So I'm just quiet until he figures it out and, in two shakes of a sheep's tail, the thing is assembled and ready to go.

I offer to take the mailman around my place as he's indicated he cuts wood on the side. So I take him out back and we're hiking across the property and he just can't believe how much land I'm on. He keeps pointing to the fences and trying to convince himself that my land ends somewhere near where we are. But I keep telling him we're not at the end yet and we keep walking. I'm on 4 acres, which is a decent piece of land. Nothing to brag about mind you, but I can do whatever I want on the redwood deck without arousing any unwarranted attention.

That's the biggest benefit of the land, in my opinion. Not the land itself, per se. But more the absence of neighbors. The lack of any human activity.

We scare up a few deer and he's all excited but they're my pets. They live here. The land is theirs as much as it is mine. And I could shoot them. Certainly I could. And I'm not above it. I just don't feel the need to. I don't need that much meat.

"I might come cut some of this stuff. You wouldn't mind?"

"No. But just let me know before you come over and I'll let me neighbors know. If I'm out of town, my neighbors will shoot you."


"I'm just saying...let me know before you come over or my neighbors will kill you."

"Why would they kill me?"

"Because they're watching my place."

"Who would shoot me?" he asked.

"Any of them might. Bud would for sure. He used to kill people for a living."

"How's that now?"

"Dude...Bud was in Vietnam. He used to kill people with a machine gun from a tower while he was drinking chocolate milk. There's books about him. I'm not joking. You can have all the wood you want, but just make sure you let me know before you come over. That's all."

"Do you want to try to get your bike started?" He asks. He's wants my XR400 in a big way and I'm thinking of selling it as I've got way too many vehicles.

"I can't right now. I've got to go to Wisconsin." I reply.

"What?" he asks.

"I've got to go to Wisconsin," I reply.

"When?" He asks, surprised.

"Now. I've got to go to the airport," I continue.

"What do you do for a living?" he asks incredulously.

"I'm a computer consultant."

And he looks at me funny as he leaves.

Jennifer sits on her new trampoline, talking with Allie about all of the things that young girls must talk about. As excited as bees. As innocent as butterflies.

"Can you believe it hasn't snowed yet, Daddy?"

I just sort of look at her and shrug my shoulders. I try not to think about the winter. I don't want it to come. Last winter was a bad one. It seemed like a long, cold winter that might not end. And it wasn't just me. Others said the same thing. Those idiots peddling "Global Warming" are so clueless it's not even funny. Couldn't pour water out of a boot if the directions were printed on the heel. But I'm not ready for another winter. I know that.

I just shrug my shoulders and look away. I don't want her to see the fear in my eyes. To see the slump in my posture. A father is supposed to be something more than this. Something more than a mule, worked to an early grave.

I remember when the phone used to ring at home and wake dad out of a sound sleep. He'd come alive like he was flashing back to his days in the war. He'd grab up the phone, clutching it like a lunatic, shouting "Hello! Hello? Hello!" into the phone, like he was taking fire from an army of gooks in the jungle and calling in mortar rounds on his position. But he never fought in any war.

Anyone could see that he wasn't going to be of any assistance, whatever the problem was. I felt sorry for the people on each end of the phone. Sorry for the unseen caller because, obviously my father wouldn't be able to help no matter what the issue. Sorry for my dad that someone at the mill thought it was a good idea to wake him from a weekend nap.

"Daddy," she calls. "Daddy come jump on the trampoline with us."

"I can't baby. I've got to fly to Wisconsin." This is the part that I hate, of course. This is the worst part of earning a living. Punching a hole in the sky and landing in another time zone a thousand miles away. Sleeping in hotels. Racing around in rented cars. Putting distance between you and the ones you love. This is possibly the worst part of being alive.

A father is supposed to be something more than this. Something more than a flickering image on Skype grading homework from another state.

I hope tonight that my motorcycle is still parked at the airport. I parked it illegally and it doesn't have a license plate or anything. I hope that I have a reservation at the Hampton Inn. I hope that Ramesh gets in on time tonight and we can go to dinner.

These are the things you hope for. A little normalcy in an abnormal commute.

Posted by Rob Kiser on October 24, 2010 at 8:03 PM


and the beat goes on...........excellent!

Posted by: critic on October 25, 2010 at 11:57 AM

Post a comment

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)