It's not about the house.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Crying Wee

Johnny and I spent an overnight this week as guests of Gerry and his family at White Horse Beach (which is not to be confused with the White Horse Tavern, despite the temporary spate of face-down Celts). You didn’t notice we were away because Blogger, if you log into the draft version, has a new feature whereby you can write your posts ahead of time and program when you want them to go up. I love this. I will be doing this a lot. Maybe I’m doing it right now, as a matter of fact. Yes, for all you know, I could still be at the beach. Or in a submarine. Or on the moon.

Anyway, when (if) we got back from the beach (or moon) there were two phone messages. The first was from my One Friend, just wanting to blab, and the other from my mom. “Hi hon. It’s your mom,” she said, and her voice sounded a little weird. “Dad had a little… incident over the weekend and he had to go to—”


What? What happened? He had to go to where?


Damn! We still use an actual answering machine, the kind that sits on a table and has lights and buttons and LED numbers that flash. If the phone rings while you’re doing anything with the machine – programming the time, recording a memo, playing back a message about how your father is quite possibly deceased – the machine automatically knocks itself off in favor of the incoming call.


Shit! Where the hell is the goddamn telephone?


I just know that that’s my mom again, or else my sister, calling back to say Dad didn’t make it. Telling me that whatever happened over the weekend was The Big One, and I was too busy playing Annette Funicello at Gerry’s borrowed beach house to say goodbye.


Aha! I found it! In the cradle where I’d wisely hung it up to charge before we left! The caller ID read“Unknown Caller” – something it’s been doing more and more these days; I think it’s broken – so I took a breath to steel my nerves, and answered.

“Hello?” I said, trying to mask the quiver in my throat.

“Hello!” the cheerfully recorded voice insisted. “This is not a sales call!”

“The hell it’s not,” I said, “F— you!”

One thing about cordless phones is that you can’t hang them up with any vehemence at all. Slamming a receiver into a cradle carries a measure of decisiveness and finality, even if the person at the other end can never really hear the violence involved. But pulling a handset away from your face, searching for the “talk” button and pushing it with your thumb, well, it just doesn’t hold the same dramatic sway. Even you do throw in my patented Wrist-Flick of Disdain. Un. Satisfying.

Now there were five messages on the machine – the two new ones, plus three from before we left. Was I really patient enough to play through and delete the first four in order to get to Mom’s, or should I just go ahead and call her back right now? No, better to play it. Better not to make her explain all over again what this incident entailed. She’s probably upset enough, already, as it is.

So there’s Gerry, singing happy birthday to me. There’s Gerry again, inviting us to come. And there’s Gerry one last time, wanting to know if we left yet. There’s One Friend, saying hi. And then there’s Mom.

“Hi hon. It’s your mom. Dad had a little… incident over the weekend and he had to go to the doctor and have his toenail taken off.”

His toenail? Dad stubbed his frickin’ toe?

“The thing is, ” she went on, “the doctor kept it. So I thought maybe you could call him…”

Oh. Now that’s kind of funny. I mean, it is well and truly disgusting, and for that I am heartily sorry. But if you were me, you’d think it funny, too

See, when I was little, my brother smashed my finger with a rock (it’s okay, he’s younger than me: he didn’t know what he was doing, he didn’t do it on purpose, and besides, I later kicked him down the cellar stairs, so now we’re even). The fingernail eventually fell off, which frightened me, so Mom told me about the Tooth Fairy’s distant and not quite so famous cousin.

She said if I put the black, dead, disgusting thing in my silver tooth cup (our Tooth Fairy never looked under the pillow: she knew what light sleepers we were, and she wanted us to get our beauty rest), then when I woke up in the morning there just might be a surprise. And there was. A whole dollar! We only got a quarter for our teeth, so a buck was really something. I briefly considered knocking off the other nine fingernails and retiring, but then I remembered about all the blood…

So anyway, Dad didn’t die. He stubbed his toe and lost the nail, and he didn’t get a chance to leave it for the Toenail Fairy because the mean old doctor-man threw it away. I was supposed to call him to commiserate, but I never did. It was kind of late by the time I got the message, plus I was still a little raw from thinking he was dead. I was afraid if I called and woke him, I might wind up yelling at him for scaring me like that, and then he might actually genuinely die, this time for real. So I decided to let his nine remaining toenails get their beauty rest.

Q: The moral of this story is:

A. Beach houses are fun (more on which tomorrow).
B. If you should see my dad today, try to steer clear of his piggies. Or
C. If he seems to need some cheering up, try giving him a dollar.


Ladyscot said...

You'll be happy to know that your dad's piggie is doing's not stopping him any!

jen said...

Oh my gad! This was so fricking funny. Your mother is a hoot. Toenail fairy. Thats awesome. I love lying to children!
I've kind of missed you. I wondered where you really were.

Jenni said...

Good one Ege!!!

LadyCiani said...

Oooo. That's kind of ick, but hilarious all the same!

It makes my insides do the little quiver that says "I feel your pain, but that's so gross!"

beardonaut said...

I can't even begin to imagine what the toenail fairy would look like. Scary as all hell, that's for sure...

su said...

He didn't even get a LOLLY

Shelley said...

I saw that you visited my blog. I thought I would leave you a comment and let you know this post is what really brought me to your page and let me laugh my a** off. I read several other posts too while laughing hysterically. I told my husband and my best friend about your blog and your writing and told them how I wish I could write like you do. Anywho you are hilarious! I absolutely love reading your blog!