Quondam

September 2012
M T W T F S S
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River says you lie

Maj moans from the back seat, “This is not on the way.  How is this on the way?  You said this was on the way, but this is so not on the way.”

Kallan explains to her sister, “Daddy wants to go to Harbor Freight Tools.  In Daddy’s mind, Harbor Freight Tools is always on the way.”

Mark agrees, “Yes, exactly.  Harbor Freight Tools is on the way to Harbor Freight Tools.  I didn’t lie.  All this driving is on the way, just like I said.”

“You are so annoying, Daddy.  We are way out of on the way.”  Maj points out the window, “The river is on the wrong side of us.  If we were on our way toward home, the river would be on our right, but ooooh . . . it is on our left BECAUSE WE ARE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE RIVER!  LOOK AT IT, DADDY!  THE RIVER SAYS YOU LIE!”

Mark laughs, “Maj, relax.  Maybe there will be something else over there you want to do.”

Maj considers and then starts trying to work out exactly what might be possible, “Is the tool store near that craft store I like?”

“No.”

“Is it near the consignment clothing store I like?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Is it near the doughnut store?”

“What doughnut store?”

“That one that was by the tool store one time.”

“I think you are thinking of a place out in Portland.”

“No, Daddy.  No, I am not.  So is this store near the doughnut place?”

“What doughnut place?”

“The doughnut place that was by the tool store that one time.”

“Oh, I think I know the place you are talking about.  Was it the place where we bought those maple bars one time?”

“Yes!”

“No.”

“No, what?”

“No, that doughnut place is not near this tool store.”

“Is there any doughnut place near this tool store?”

“I don’t think so.”

“Where is it, then?”

“Let’s see . . . It’s near that movie theater Mommy and Kallan went to one time and the film broke and they got free tickets to go to the theater again as an apology for the film breaking but they never went back because they didn’t like the theater and they only have two tickets and there are four of us.”

Maj leans forward, “Daddy, I have no idea in the world what you are talking about.”

“Well, it’s near that theater.”

“That’s not helpful, Daddy.  Oh wait, Daddy . . . is this tool store near the boat store?”

“No.”

“Is it near the place that has cowboy stuff?”

“No.”

“Listen, Daddy . . . is it near that place we went one time that . . .”

I can’t stand it anymore, “Oh for god’s sake.  Stop talking about where the tool store is, you fools.  You are driving me insane.”

Kallan explodes in laughter, “Mom, have you not met these two?  Let me introduce them; this is Maj and this is Daddy, and they can talk a subject that is not even a subject so far into the ground they will dig a well.”

Mark is defensive, “What?  Maj wanted to know where the tool store is, and I was just trying to tell her.”

Maj agrees, “Since when is this family averse to a little discussion?”

I turn back to Maj, “Listen.  Harbor Freight Tools is about another three miles ahead on this road right here.  We’ve been there before.  It’s on the way to nowhere.  Nothing around the store is of any possible interest to you.  End of discussion.  Got it?”

She harrumphs, “I’m just trying to figure out the flee.”

“What?”

“The flee.  I’m trying to think of where else I can possibly be while Daddy is meandering about the tool store like he has a special kind of amnesia that makes him completely unaware of his family’s irritation and impatience.”

I turn to Mark, “You do kind of go brain-damaged in tool stores, babe.”

Mark is unapologetic, “You said we could go to Harbor Freight Tools to get me a birthday present, so I am allowed to wander and consider my options.”

“Uh oh,” now Kallan is concerned, “Daddy doesn’t even know what he wants to buy?”

I reassure Kallan, “I’m sure Daddy has a plan.”

Mark agrees, “Kind of.”

Kallan peers out her window, “I’ll help you look for a flee, Maj.” Sadly, we are in a less than kid-friendly part of town, and so the options are limited.  Kallan stares for a bit, “Ooooh, Maj!  We could go to the tattoo parlor!”

Maj is doubtful.

“Maj, we could go to the tattoo parlor and get something for Daddy!”

Maj is still doubtful.

“Maj, we could each get a tattoo of the word DADDY . . . on our butts!”

I snort incredulously, “On your butts?”

The girls shriek with laughter at the thought, and Mark sighs, “Somewhere out there is a therapist rubbing his hands in anticipatory glee.”

I cannot stop laughing, which turns into coughing, which turns into more coughing (I have yet to completely kick a stupid lingering cough left me by the illness that struck me a few weeks ago).  Through coughing and gasping, I manage to ask, “Does anyone have a candy or a cough-drop or something?”

Hands burrow into the minivan’s various recesses, and Maj comes up with a root-beer flavored hard candy, “Here, Mother.  Fair warning, though . . . it probably tastes like the dry-cleaner.”

“Ugh.”  I unwrap the candy and put it in my mouth.  It does indeed taste of dry-cleaning solvents, “It tastes terrible.”

Kallan is sympathetic, “I know, right?  Every time we go there to drop off or pick up Daddy’s dry-cleaning, I always take a candy out of the bowl they have on the counter, and every time, it tastes like chemicals.  Every time.  Someone should tell them their candy is poisoned.

Mark is curious, “Why do you take the candy every time if it tastes like chemicals?”

“Hello?  Daddy?  I am Kallan.  It’s candy.”

Maj waves a presenting hand, “Hello?  Daddy?   Have you met Kallan?  Kallan plus candy equals magnetic attraction.  It’s a wonder candy doesn’t just fly through the air and stick to her as we go about our days.”

Kallan sighs happily, “Like a dream that would be!”

I choke and cough and laugh on my poisoned root-beer candy.  Maj speaks through a protectively crooked arm, “Mother, first?  Not everything is funny.  WE HAVE DISCUSSED THIS.  Second?  You had better not be contagious.  I AM NOT KIDDING, WOMAN.  I AM SO NOT KIDDING.”

I suck hard on the nightmarish candy and try to bring my coughing under control.

Maj turns back to Mark, “Daddy, is Harbor Freight Tools near a pet store?”

“What sort of pet store?”

“One that sells the stuff that removes chemicals from tap-water.  I need some for my frogs.”

“No.”

“We could just stop by the pet store and check, Daddy.  Usually, pet stores sell that kind of stuff.  It’s a little bottle; maybe you didn’t notice that they sell it.”

“There’s no pet store by the tool store.”

“Oh.  Is it near a store that sells candy?  Mother could use some candy for her cough, and then perhaps Kallan and I could get some candy as well.”

“Nope.  But I’m sure they sell candy or gum or something at Harbor Freight Tools.”

Kallan speaks with authority, “No.  Harbor Freight Tools does not sell candy or gum.  Believe me, I have been there many times with Daddy, and I have looked for treats, and I would have found the treats if there were treats.  There are no treats.”

Maj is thoughtful, “Are we going to be anywhere near ice cream?  Is Harbor Freight Tools near Dairy Queen, perhaps?

Mark makes a right turn into the large parking lot outside Harbor Freight Tools, “No.”

Maj sighs as she looks around the mostly abandoned row of stores, “I would ask if Harbor Freight Tools is near a bookstore . . .”

“No bookstore.”

“So pretty much Harbor Freight Tools is on the way to Harbor Freight Tools and nothing else?”

Mark turns off the car and undoes his seat-belt, “Apparently so.  Although I did think it was maybe near something you would like.”

“Like what, Daddy?”

“Can’t remember.”

“Try.”

“Try to remember?”

“Yes, what did you think was here?”

“What does it matter?”

“I just want to know.”

“I don’t remember.”

“Try, Daddy.  I can see that you are not trying.”

“A bookstore?”

“Daddy, you did not think there was a bookstore here.”

“A craft store?”

“Daddy, if you are not going to try, we will never get to the bottom of this.”

“A pet store?”

“Daddy, you are annoying me.  WHAT DID YOU THINK WAS HERE THAT I WOULD LIKE?”

“Pretty sure there is a doughnut store around here somewhere.”

Maj takes Mark’s hand, “Really, Daddy?  Where?  Which one?  What kind of doughnuts?”

“I’m not sure.”

I stop to let Mark and Maj walk ahead, yelling after them as I cough, “You two drive me insane!”

Kallan giggles and offers me her hand, her fingers curled around an invisible cup of, “Water?”

I pretend to drink, “From the well?”

She smiles, “Obviously.”

Geez.