I was in the garage prepping my gas grill for summer use. Once a year, I take it apart, scrape and fire the racks and the taste bars clean; check all the gas bottle hoses and fittings, and then I sand and repaint the whole thing. It gives me an excuse to get dirty, play with fire and crank up some old school tunes. All in all, it’s usually a good day.
“Honey?” She called over the stereo.
I had my head down in the fire chest, working a wire brush on the interior.
“Yeah?” I called back.
“Nancy called. We’re going shopping for a couple of hours.”
“Okay.” I yelled back. “Have fun.”
I could hear the jingle of her car keys as she pulled them off the door hook next to the jamb.
Cool… I get to play with fire, listen to old school tunes AND I won’t have someone grousing about the stink, the mess or the music. I was already dreaming on a beer.
“Bye-bye! You and little Timmy play nice!”
“Okay…” I half mumbled.
Actually if I played my cards right, I could run that one beer into three, a nap and stretch the whole job into two days instead of one. And, then it hit me…
“Hey! Wait a minute!” I ran after her.
I ran into the house, tripped on the top step threshold and fell down. She was only mildly concerned.
“Get up, you’re not hurt.” She ordered. “I’ve been after you for a month to fix that.”
I rubbed my shin as I stood.
“I’m not watching little Timmy…” I began.
In the big book of the DHMF, (Doghouse Manifesto) under: ARGUMENTS- HOW TO LOSE THEM- Rule 4511 states, “If you start an argument by telling her what you are not willing to do; rest assured, when the argument is over, you will be doing exactly what you were not willing to do when the argument started.”
“Oh, yes you are…” She wagged her finger at me.
“Honey,” I whined, “that kid is weird.”
I could hear Nancy’s car pulling into the drive.
“He is not.” She chided me.
I pulled my pant leg up to look at my shin.
“He is too. Last time he showed up here wearing Bermuda shorts, two-tone saddle shoes, and a white short sleeve shirt, with a black clip on bow tie. All he needed to go with that get up, was a metal detector and a Scofield Reference Bible!”
I pulled my sock down to look at my leg.
“He did not!” She corrected me.
I stood straight, with my pant leg up, my sock down and put my hands on my hips.
“He did so. And he calls me Grandpa! That kid is weird.”
“And,” she continued, “I don’t want a repeat of what happened last time.”
“That wasn’t my fault.” I insisted. “That cat was already sick!”
The front door opened, and in walked Nancy and her precious little Timmy. He was dressed like a missionary.
I stood there with my pant leg up, my sock down, my bleeding shin, and my hands on my hips.
“Hi, Nancy!” I said cheerfully. And, then under my moustache, I mumbled, “Please, don’t do this to me!”
The girls turned on their heels to leave. Nancy paused at the front door, smoothed little Timmy’s cowlick and told him,
“You behave for Grandpa now, and we’ll be back in a couple of hours.”
Nancy turned to me, narrowed her eyes and spoke evenly.
“Keep him away from the neighbor’s cat.” She warned. “And pull your sock up and your pant leg down- you look like an idiot!”
The door closed, and it was just little Timmy and me. I heard the car in the drive start and pull out. Little Timmy eyed me. I studied him. It was a standoff.
“Hi Grandpa!” He chirped. There followed an eerie silence, the same silence that falls over a battlefield before the first shot is fired.
“Uhm…” I stammered. That was all he needed. He locked and loaded his machine gun mouth and opened up on my position.
“Whatchadoin? Why’syourpantlegup? Why’syoursockdown? Boy,yourlegsareskinnyandwhite! Whatarewegonnadotoday? HOW COME MOMMY THINKS YOU’RE AN IDIOT?”
“Uhm…” I just couldn’t help myself.
“Where’s the cat?” He drew in a deep breath and fell silent, but I could see his eyes spinning clockwise. He was changing barrels and reloading.
I didn’t wait for him to finish.
“Uhm… we won’t be playing with the cat today, Timmy.” I stated as I straightened myself up and walked to the door.
“Okay. What’re we doin’?” He asked as he followed me into the garage.
I was stuck and I knew it. Oh, well, the worst that could happen was if the neighbor’s cat wandered in, but that wasn’t likely- don’t ask; that cat hasn’t stopped twitching or been the same since Timmy’s last visit- so, I figured I would introduce him to the wonderful world of Gas Grill Maintenance.
As it turns out, little Timmy is not so weird; he just needed some attention and the company of a man.
Little boys aren’t so hard to figure out. They all pretty much want the same thing: to hang out with the big boys, doing big boy stuff and getting big boy dirty in the process. Throw in some big boy spitting and scratching lessons, a rootbeer and some good old-fashioned big boy classic rock-and-roll, and it’s a good day all around.
Rule 29 of chapter 10, under: CHILDREN- THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BOYS & GIRLS- the rule clearly states, “Husbands and fathers will do well by their sons if they take the time to teach them everything they know, except- how to curse, lose their temper, or drink strong spirits.” For more on this, see the following chapters on: TEACHING LITTLE BOYS TO LOVE THEIR MOTHERS- TO BE GENTLEMEN & TO RESPECT ALL WOMEN.
Little Timmy just wanted a day of playing with a big boy. His Mom and Dad are divorced, and little Timmy only dresses like a missionary, and is wound tighter than an alarm clock mainspring because his Mom doesn’t know anything about boys, and it’s not her fault, she is a girl after all, and men are aliens.
Three hours, two rootbeers, one accident and a couple of band-aids later, little Timmy looked like Al Jolson, and was having the time of his life! He was greasier than a pit mechanic, dirtier than a skidrow bum; had skinned a knuckle, managed to smash a finger, used power tools and a self-igniting blow-torch, and you would have thought he had died and gone to heaven!
Truth to tell, we didn’t get a lot done, but it didn’t really matter and I wanted to turn it into a two-day job anyway. I spent most of my time making sure Timmy didn’t get too injured, but I let him get a few scrapes and scratches, so he would have something to brag on and to remember the day by.
I finally decided it was time to take a break and stretched out on the reclining lawn chair. By that time, my decrepit old 8-track had switched over to “The Best of Bread.” A very tired, greasy, grimy, dirty and very happy little Timmy crawled up in my lap, and the two of us fell asleep. We never even heard the girls come in.
They stood at the door looking at us.
“My God!” Nancy breathed. “He’s filthy!”
My wife set her packages down.
“Yeah, he is, but he’s smiling.”
“Timmy just adores your husband.” Nancy whispered. “He’s a sweet man…”
My wife pulled Nancy back into the Kitchen.
“God, don’t ever tell him that. He won’t be fit to live with if you do!”
They thought I was asleep. They thought I couldn’t hear them over the stereo, but I wasn’t, and I did. I’ll keep quiet anyway. Gentlemen rarely repeat anything a woman says in confidence, whether he was supposed to hear it or not.
Besides, if Nancy ever gets the idea that I like having Timmy over, she’ll never let him come back…
…and, then who will I get to play with?
* sigh *