There’s a whole horror show going on in America right now, but it’s time to take a break from protesting the Orange Pustule. Today we’re headed back to a time when my greatest worry was leaving my in-laws unsupervised.
My husband has limited vacation and sick leave. When he had knee surgery, we carefully scheduled part of his recovery to overlap with a visit from his parents. I had visions of them fetching food for Andy, or keeping him entertained while I worked, walked dogs, cleaned, did yard work, etc.
The first day, after his parents nearly burned down the house, I left Andy to go the gym. When I came home, I put on headphones and worked at my computer. Andy helped his father “fix” the futon, listened to his father’s suggestions for home improvements, listened to his mother’s suggestions for different trees (“Your grapefruit is too sour!”), and ignored the incessant demands for a grandson.
He tried to escape into the kitchen to cook. They followed him. Andy turned on the hood fan. They yelled stories about friends and relatives with bigger houses and, of course, grandchildren.
Yes, I could hear them through my headphones.
Jet-lagged, Andy’s father was up at odd intervals that night, either blasting the TV or needing a cup of hot water. I got up once to help heat water. I got lectured on getting better sleep so I could get pregnant. After that, I slugged Andy in the arm and sent him to investigate when his father was restless.
For those counting, we were now up to two terrible nights with minimal sleep.
The next morning, I returned from walking the dogs to find Andy in a dress shirt, putting on his shoes. I crossed my arms and glared as he sputtered about “an Emergency At Work.”
Andy tossed off ten acronyms that sounded important yet failed to describe the nature of his emergency as he grabbed his badge and car keys.
I followed him to the garage. “But your knee! It’s not healed all the way.”
“You heard the doctor. He says no more crutches. It’ll be fine.”
“Can’t you do it from home?” I asked.
“It’s all top secret. Bye!” Andy slammed the car door. He waved and backed down the driveway.
I yelled after him, “I know you’re going to nap in your office!”
I fixed some toast and tea for my in-laws when they awoke. Maybe they could have fended for themselves. Or maybe they could have set another fire. I was taking no chances. Sunny and Jay seemed happy to have me wait on them. Their plan that day was a trip to Costco. In fact, Jay was ready to leave right away. I don’t think he believed me when I said it wouldn’t open for another 2 hours.
They went to watch TV. I went to weed. I weeded for 10 minutes before my father-in-law came outside. His phone wouldn’t stream videos. I reset his phone to wi-fi and put in our password. He left happy. He returned five minutes later, unhappy. There was too much buffering. I checked his phone again. Jay had switched off the wi-fi. I switched it back on, explaining that our wi-fi was more reliable.
My explanation was in vain. For the next half –hour, Jay repeatedly turned the wi-fi off, even though I explained that it would cost him more money.
I gave up on yard work and went to check email. Within five minutes, Jay was behind me, demanding Costco.
“They don’t open for another hour,” I told him.
Jay said, “But we have a lot to get for the family party on Saturday.”
“But we can’t get it until they open. We’d be sitting in the parking lot for an hour.”
Jay disappeared again.
For five minutes. Then he was back. “What are you doing?”
“Responding to emails.”
“You should be working or writing. This is why you’re not done with your book!”
“Jay, why don’t you go see if there are any oranges on the tree?”
Jay went outside, banging the security door on the way out. Sunny came into the office. “That door is so loud! You need a quieter door.”
I refrained from pointing out that I needed quieter in-laws. I only explained, “We had a nice, quiet screen door. The dogs went right through it.”
“Aiiyah! You need smaller dogs.” Sunny examined the door, opening and shutting it. Repeatedly. “Did Andy install this? It’s not so good.” She laughed. “It‘s like the door Jay installed at home!”
Jay overheard this slight. He came back inside and tested the door. “Testing” meant opening it and banging it shut for several minutes. I gave up on emails. I pulled up my manuscript and lost myself in editing my fantasy world.
Jay brought me back to reality. He leaned over my shoulder, saying. “You need to get off the computer so I can play video poker online.”
So much for my book. I took a deep breath. And another. I put the computer to sleep, stood up, and said, “Let’s go to Costco.”
Screw it. Sitting in the parking lot for an hour sounded downright restful.