We took a nun to dinner last night. We knew her in college; she was part of the campus ministry. A sweeter, more delightful woman never lived.
On the way to pick her up, I snarled at the children as only I can. “John,” I warned, “you better clean up your vocabulary NOW!! I don’t want to hear a single ‘freakin/crap/rape/butt/jerk/stupid/retarded/moron’ out of you, understand??”
“yes ma’am,” he said meekly.
“Goddess,” I said, “DO NOT WHINE!!!”
“I’m not,” she whined defensively.
“Good, let’s keep it that way. Amy,” I continued, “no nastiness to anyone, especially me. Got it.”
“Whatever,” she said.
Who knew I would be the trouble? We arrived at the convent, picked up Sister B. and had a round of hugs. Then we headed out to eat. Only, we didn’t know where to go. We have a hard time making decisions like this. Frequently, a discussion over where to go eat results in epic, near marriage ending, fights.
But before that discussion, we had to find our way back to the main road. My husband hates to drive downtown. He has a very small geographic comfort zone, and he seldom strays from it. Anything north of 459 is off limits for him. He got to a stop sign and said “do I turn left here?”
“Sure,” I said, “why not?” Of course this was the wrong way and we drove around the dark and menacing streets of downtown Birmingham with no clue as to our direction. Several left turns later, we made it out to the road we were supposed to have been on in the first place. “Do I stay in this lane to get on 280?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said. “Why not?” Of course this was also the wrong way and we found ourselves on 280, heading in the wrong direction. The ONLY reason he was not shrieking obscenitites at me is because there was a nun in the front seat with him. But even from the back seat, in the dark, I could see his whitened knuckles clenching the steering wheel. He was NOT happy.
He exited at the next off ramp and we turned down several more dark and menacing streets before we found our way back on to a road we knew. Then the argument began about where we were going to eat.
“Is there anyplace around here to eat?” he asked.
“Sure, lots of places,” I said.
“Well, where do you want to go?”
“Oh, I don’t care, whereever you want to go.” This conversation is one of the hallmarks of our marriage. Neither of us wants to make the ultimate decision, even though we both have a preferred destination in mind. No one wants to be the bad guy who picks the crappy restaurant that the other person hates.
“Where is Southside?” he asked.
“Oh, I think it’s up there somewhere,” I said vaguely, waving my hand in a circle. So the idiot believed me and headed out into yet another dark and mysterious part of Birmingham. Meanwhile, John and the goddess were tickling each other to death in the back seat and my stress level was peaking at VOLCANIC ERUPTION IMMINENT!
Ten minutes later it was evident there was no food in the area in which we were driving. Tom suddenly said “I see a sign for I 65 and that’s where I’m going! I know my way around there!”
“Fine, wherever you want to eat is fine with me,” I said fake cheerfully. Sister B. was making polite conversation with my children and the goddess had only just started the “i’m hungry” chant, so it was ok. Then my phone rang.
I hate my new phone. Aside from the camera issues, the volume is a problem. It’s either soft or loud; there is no in between volume. And so it erupted into an ear splitting rendition of Nickelback’s “Rock Star”. I love Nickelback. So raw and edgy! Are you familiar with the lyrics of that song? No? Let me educate you: SO WE ALL JUST A WANNA BE BIG ROCK STARS AND LIVE IN HILL TOP PALACES DRIVING 15 CARS….”
Not too bad, right? Well, it was hugely loud, the phone was plugged into the car charger and was on the console RIGHT next to Sister B., the kids were snickering because THEY knew what was coming next and I was frantically trying to unplug it before the next stanza played. No such luck.
“THE GIRLS COME EASY AND THE DRUGS COME CHEAP AND WE ALL STAY SKINNY CAUSE WE JUST DON’T EAT….”
“Well, that’s embarassing,” John remarked to no one in particular. Thanks son. I finally got the phone into my hand and muted it and then hit “reject” for good measure. Sister B. tactfully said nothing about my questionable taste in music.
We got on the interstate and headed to Lakeshore Drive where a number of chain restaurants are located. We picked one and ate dinner without further incident. We managed to get Sister B back to the convent without getting lost again and with no further outbursts from my phone. I am sure she will be ramping up her prayers for us, though. An evening with my insane family is enough to make one question God’s divinity in Creation!