School closings are being announced on the radio due to snow. Mother Nature is again proving to be my nemesis. Mother Nature and I haven’t been on speaking terms since my water broke in Philadelphia at 34th and Vine back in 1979, and our daughter was born; as the old love potion song goes: “I held my nose, I closed my eyes…” -- it didn’t help.
Yesterday, our daughter brought grandson, Abner, to our home kicking and screaming. She was not the one doing the kicking and screaming. It was Abner’s gut instinct regarding the state of his well-being during his next several days with us that made him angst-ridden. I attribute his trepidation to my mother-in-law, Surly Kate, who regrettably still lives here.
Abner and Kate wear on my nerves like tethered flags during a hurricane. No school means I am now trapped inside the house with both of them. Mercifully, I have some Scotch whiskey in a glass bottle, properly labeled, to break in case of an emergency.
By noontime, Kate is in the bathroom yelling expletives with the door locked; Abner is in the next room losing an X-box game, his vocabulary is exactly like Kate’s – vile and hereditary; and I, with no time to dress, am still in my onesie and bathrobe.
Soon, water commences to trickle from beneath the bathroom door, the encumbrance of having indoor plumbing. Now, I have to stop what I am doing -- disconnecting all the smoke detectors -- a task I always perform when making grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch; to get a bathroom key, two bars of soap for them to suck on and a mop.¬
It is beyond my comprehension why entrepreneurs can develop complicated video games, but can’t invent useful things like smoke detectors with artificial intelligence, so you can teach it personal cooking habits before piercing one’s ear drums at meal time; toilets equipped with smart garbage disposals, so you won’t have to call Roto-Rooter every time your mother-in-law eats nails for breakfast; and marshmallow eradicator for laptop keyboards.
Manufacturers should also affix the following warning label on computer flash drives: “Children: Do not use this product to stab marshmallows while creating s'mores on the indoor roaster.”
After lunch, I send the little rogue outdoors to play with the other neighborhood children, who are doing normal things: building snowmen, having snowball fights and making snow angels. Of course, Abner gets into the tool shed and finds the clothesline. He jury-rigs a dog-sled, dognaps all the canines within a five-block radius, amidst raucous protests from the dognapped, and organizes a neighborhood Iditarod.
Someone summons the police.
Since the chip off the old block is a mile away, I do the intelligent thing and have a martini.
Unfortunately, the police return him.
At the end of the day, I am still baffled by the underlying literary message in Abner’s “alleged” required reading: Captain Underpants and the Terrifying Return of Tippy Tinkletrousers.
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