Family Crisis

Copyright 2002 W. Bruce Cameron

My wife is called out of town on a family emergency. I gather the children together–families, when confronted with a crisis, find that it draws them all closer.

“We’ll all have to pitch in and help,” I proclaim solemnly.

“I hate living here,” my older daughter fumes.

I hand out assignments for laundry and housecleaning. “What are you going to do?” my younger daughter inappropriately demands of me.

“I’m Management,” I inform her archly.

“Can I be in Management too, Dad?” my son asks.

Here’s how it goes:

Day One:

Got up early and prepared a breakfast of pancakes. “Hey, blackened food is the style now,” I respond when my children complain. Made lunches over the objection that “no one eats peanut butter any more,” using the occasion to deliver an educational lecture on What Life Was Like In The Depression, a subject I know all about because my grandmother used to talk about it a lot. “No wonder they were depressed if they had to eat peanut butter all the time,” my son grouses.

I am a bit late for work.

Day Three:

Good thing I ordered extra pizza the night before–cold pizza makes for an easy breakfast. Packed them pizza slices for lunch. Had to rinse a pair of my son’s underpants in the sink and use a hair dryer to dry them. Told my wife everything is under control, stay as long as you want. Laughed about how our neighbors use a maid service. “Can you believe it? Cleaning house is so simple,” I chuckle. “Say, what is the name of that maid service, anyway? Would they be in the phone book?”

Unable to find my car keys, I call in sick.

Day Ten:

The kitchen floor is so sticky it pulls the socks right off our feet. Tried to run the vacuum sweeper, but gave up when it began rattling like gravel in a coffee can. Neighbors called to complain that my dog is apparently trying to move in with them. I packed too many clothes in the washing machine and now I can’t get them out.

I decide to ask the boss to put me on leave of absence.

Day Twelve:

We are now eating our pizza off newspapers-easier to clean up that way. The kids refuse to go into the kitchen because of the way it smells. I’ve been praising them for keeping the litter box clean, only to discover today that it’s the dog that’s been doing it. No wonder the cat looks so disgusted all the time.

Day Thirteen:

Tried to run the dishwasher using laundry detergent. At least the kitchen floor is no longer sticky, though once the bubbles subsided they left a milky scum.

We’ve retreated into the living room; the rest of the house is too dangerous. The kids ask me to wear something besides a towel. Like what?, I demand.

The pizza people called to ask whether I’d be interested in buying a franchise.

Day Fourteen:

Wife phoned to say the emergency is over. (She hasn’t seen the house.) She’ll be home soon. I contacted the US Marshals to see if I could join the Witness Protection Program. The children want to know what specific day she’ll be coming back so they can arrange to be spending the night somewhere else. The maid service came out, but promptly left, saying they “don’t do disasters.”

Day Sixteen:

Picked up wife at airport. Took her out to dinner. Gave her the diamond bracelet. Told her we could spend Christmas with her parents this year. Offered to see a romantic movie with her this weekend. Told her I’ve decided I’m not interested in football or basketball any more. Said I’ve changed my mind and we can get new furniture for the living room. Mentioned to her I wasn’t sure of the best route home and asked the waiter for directions. Requested a list of things to fix around the house so I could get started on it before the weekend. Said I was glad she was back so that we could spend the evening just cuddling, with no sex unless she wanted. Took her home.

Spent the night on the couch.