Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

An Imaginary Line

Monday, June 25th, 2018

I haven’t written anything since January. That may be the longest I’ve gone without writing here in 15 years. I guess things are just too heavy, too overwhelming. Too much. Too painful. And they aren’t just my story any more. I am really brimming with the need to write, and yet, I’m unable to cross some imaginary line, one that only exists in my own head. One that protects those I love. One that maybe doesn’t even exist for them, and yet, I continue to protect them from my thoughts that stray over those lines. One that protects people i love who aren’t even my people any more.

Today was one of those heavy divorce days. A milestone day. Painful, heavy, funny. The kind of day that reminds you that you are a ship unmoored. That it’s just you and the open water. That you are alone. That you are the only one on the rudder, on the sails, looking to the horizon.

It was one of those days that you are confronted with age, mortality, what it means to be alone, what it means to ask where will I be? In a week? In a year? At the end?

I could write so much more. But the truth is, I’m scared that once I start, it will pour out in a torrent of pain, guilt, shame, sadness, negativity, anger, pride, indignation, and questioning that will alienate everyone I love. And then again, deep down, I know that i need to find out what’s on the other side of all of those mountains.

I find more and more that music is the only thing that really helps me right now. Because I don’t have to pretend that it’s my mind exactly. They are my theme songs. My sad soundtracks.

Today was this, again. (Always.):

And this:

And always. Back to this.

I guess I’m working back to the words. They are there. I’m just scared to put them out there. I’m just scared. I’m scared to cross the imaginary line. To face what it means. To face what people would think it means.

Postscript: There was a rainbow. A double rainbow. I know what it means. I’m just not ready yet.

 

Wholesome and Old School Quality Family Time (NSFW)

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

So, tonight’s dinner discussion with my teenager and tween was so horrific, it gets it’s own NSFW blog post. (Mom, that means, “Not Safe for Work.” As in, don’t click on or read it on your work computer. So you’re fine.) For anyone with delicate sensibilities, or who thinks maybe their children are perfect and/or living in a bubble, you should stop here.

First of all, in my head, when I was driving to eat at our local restaurant/bar, I realized I was wearing the shirt I was lounging around in today. My Chunklet Trump Sucks shirt.

Maybe not the best shirt to wear in a very purple neighborhood. So, in my head, we might get looks because I had the word “dick” on my shirt. Some drunk redneck might want to discuss it. I have had this happen one time before and have a prepared rebuttal sure to make angry white men more angry.

But we got to dinner and the UNC/KY game was on (sorry Jason, congrats Dana), so it was unusually crowded and we got seated pretty quickly, but our food took awhile, so you know, that means Quality Family Time.

We discussed upcoming spring break plans, going to the beach, packing lists, games to take, R. going to Disney for his band trip, etc. It was super all-american and white bread. And then. Then, R. started pushing buttons.

Things like, “you don’t get to tell me whether I can take my phone to Disney or not, because Dad paid for it.”

[Needle scratches across record.]

Todd and I both work. Todd did indeed write the check and deliver it to the band teacher. But my head seriously exploded.

I said, “Buddy, you realize that your father and I both work long hours and what we make is both of ours. Daddy did not pay for your trip. Your father and I both paid for your trip.”

So, then I turn to Tiller, in a classic example of attempting to ignore bad behavior, while educating, and say,

“Tiller, did you now that in America, when a man and a woman do the same EXACT job, on average, the woman makes 75% of what the man makes?”

Tiller: “What?”

Me: “For every dollar a man makes, a woman, doing the same exact job, possibly as well, and likely, better, will make 75 cents for her work, while a man will make a dollar.”

And bless his heart, the boy child, he doubled down.

“Mom, why do you have to take everything so seriously? You’re so uptight. I was just joking, and you had to turn it into some kind of Feminist rant, like you always do.”

This was the point where I said, in the exorcist mom voice,

“Rollie, you need to leave the table now and go to the bathroom, because if you stay here, I will make a scene. When you come back, you better have dropped it, because you are treading on seriously thin ice.”

He goes to the bathroom, and Tiller and I discuss wage equality a bit more, and he comes back to the table. He seems to realize he has stepped over the line and is actually able to be quiet for about five minutes.

Then, i think he realizes by my stone cold stare and cold shoulder that I am actually very angry with him. So, he starts trying to make me laugh.

He begins by saying,

“I’m gonna go play something on the jukebox.”

Me: “Okay, no dubstep.”

Him: “Okay, I will play one of your favorites.”

Yeah, I’m not dumb, my guard is up.

He proceeds to play a song that he knows I loathe: Europe’s “The Final Countdown.”

Waiter comes by and smirks at me.

And I don’t let R. completely get to me. I point out that the song was not a terrible choice in light of the ending of the basketball game, but everyone probably thinks he’s a Tarheel now.

So, he again pushes the envelope, coming up with terrible-sounding music choices, that i didn’t recognize. And for every one, I said,

“Oh, that one is so good. I love that one.”

And he seemed to become frustrated, but at the same time, saw right through me.

And Tiller says,

“Can I play one?”

And I say,

“Honestly, if there is any song one might play in here that would baffle, astound, or annoy the clientele, it is most certainly from the Hamilton soundtrack. What song is most popular and recognizable from Hamilton, Tills?”

And she ponders it for a split second, then says,

“‘Alexander Hamilton,’ of course.”

And so that is how it came to be that my son ended up playing a track from Hamilton to a bar full of oblivious basketball fans in Tucker, Georgia. It must be noted that Tiller sang along, proudly, word for word.

And then, we were all laughing at the absurdity and seemingly getting along. But my teenager? He could not stop there. And so he drops the bomb.

Mom, what’s a ‘rim job?’

I am pretty sure I both turned red and spluttered. I don’t know that I have ever spluttered at any other time in my entire life. The waiter came by, took one look at my face, and asked if I’d like another glass of wine? (They are good people there, at Local 7 in Tucker.)

I compose myself and say,

“Where on earth did you hear that?”

R: “Why? What is it?”

Me: We’ll talk about it when we get home, okay?”
R: “Why? I want to know now.”

Me: “It’s like the blowjob discussion; You do not want to discuss this with your sister here, and I don’t think it’s polite dinner table discussion.”
R: [smirking] “That’s okay. It was in a movie Dad and I watched, and he already explained it to me.”
Me: [violent, bloody murder in my head, knowing I had been played, because he just knew it would get a reaction out of me.]

And then I did the only thing i could do. I laughed so hard I almost cried, because he absolutely had me on the ropes.

The waiter comes by to stand at the table:

“Check please,” I say.

R: “Also, what is a dildo?”

Waiter: “That last glass is on me.”

We finally get to the car and they are both jabbering and I say,

“Please, can we leave this conversation be until tomorrow? I really need a break and then I will be glad to answer any and all questions, just as I always do.”

And my sweet firstborn says,

R: “Okay. but I have one more question: What are anal beads?”

Me: “Where in the hell did you hear that!? I’m looking at your history on the computer tonight when we get home.”

And he actually seemed shocked that I might think he had googled it.

“Mom, I heard most of that in the locker room.”

Oh, well, that seems. . . wholesome and old school, I guess.
On another note, what songs would be the absolute worst to play in a bar full of people? Also, I am setting up a GoFundMe to cover my wine costs for the next five years.

The Prince of Popularity

Friday, September 16th, 2016

So, I totally brag on the girlchild, because she is so good and productive and so unlike me that I am in constant amazement that she came out of my vagina.

I wrote this about her on Facebook today:

The Tills absolutely slays me sometimes.

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 In addition to this All-Love-Zentangle (I had to look it up, too) masterpiece, it is Friday afternoon and we can’t go get pizza until she finishes her homework. On Friday. I still can’t believe people do that.

You are probably thinking I’m an amazing parent, but I had nothing to do with it. She just came out this way.

I think I want to be her when I grow up.

But I have to give the boy his propers, too, because he is really coming into his own in the sarcasm department. I guess he amazes me slightly less because he IS me. It seems more natural that he is mine. I look at him, and I see me. He is the Universe’s mirror, held up to me, wherein I see my best and my worst.

So, the other day, we are in the car on the way to karate and he informs me that he was voted “prince” of his classroom. Trying to get information out of a 13-year-old boy is like pulling teeth, but it is apparently like a homecoming court of sorts. They vote within the homeroom, then those four kids are voted upon by the four-class team, and then the kids vote on the kids who win their team and they become Prince of 7th Grade or whatever.

Back it up a minute here.

You have to understand that I looked like this in 8th grade. It was not much of an improvement over 7th, needless to say. (I couldn’t find my 7th grade school picture.)

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Basically, all I heard was, “Hey, Mom. I got voted for this thing that you never would have been voted for in a million years.” In 7th grade, I think I truly had maybe three friends. Tops. I could not have garnered 9 votes to win a classroom vote in a million years. So, the truth actually comes out that the kids just raised their hands and said “I want to be on the ballot.” Maybe my son is not me. I never would have done that in 7th grade. In 7th grade, I was just trying to disappear.

This piqued my interest. I start questioning my son: “Why do you want to be Prince? Is there a girl you like that is running for Princess?” (I pretty much almost throw up in my mouth even saying all this, because the whole conversation, in my head, I am thinking “FUCK popular people and this princess shit.”)

I don’t say that to my son. I just say, who got voted in? Were they nice people? He says they were “popular.” [Bile rises.] Because, I say, sometimes the people who were popular when I was in 7th grade weren’t really nice. He said, “Well, some of them aren’t.”

So, we have this whole conversation about being popular for different reasons, and that some people seem popular, but they aren’t really, they are just confident, and they step on others and put down others to make themselves look better. And then there are other people who are popular for a good reason: Because they are truly kind souls and they treat everyone nicely.

“I want you to be the latter,” I say. I want you to look back on your time in middle school and know that you were kind to other people. All the other people. Because the ones who weren’t? My experience is that they peaked early and they weren’t too well liked in high school, and God only knows what happened to them after that. We continued to have this Popularity conversation all the way to karate.

Sidenote: He did not win his team Princedom. I know you were all on the edge of your seat.

I kind of forgot about the conversation, actually. But then we are at dinner eating pizza. There is a tv on, and they are playing ESPN. It is a documentary about the African American athletes who raised their fists on the podium at the 1968 Olympics. It was closed captioned, but i had recently read about the white Australian who won Silver and was up on the podium at the same time. It is a moving story.

Tiller asked me to explain what the big deal was, and I got into ’68 and civil rights, and how this was not a protest, but activism for human rights, and I tried to explain how brave and moving it was for them to do this, and for the white Australian, also, to join them in wearing the human rights badge with them.

Y’all, I’m a weepy emotional mess when I try to explain complex historical stuff. So, I get a little teary, and then we are all looking at the screen, and they show a photo of the three men together in their, probably 50s or so? And then, then they show a casket being carried, and two Americans are the pallbearers in the foreground. And I realize that the two Americans were asked to be pallbearers for this Australian’s funeral, and well, my eyes welled up and tears rolled down my face at the beauty of that.

Tiller: “Mama, why are you crying?”

I am too choked up to speak.

Rollie: “Because she’s emotional.”

But he says it like men say it. The “she’s a woman, she’s emotional, she’s hysterical.” He says it in a way that brings me up quick, and pisses me off.

Me: “Rollie, I am weepy, because it is beautiful, and I am not afraid to cry, or show emotion. Tiller, I am crying, because that image of those men makes me proud to be a human.”

And Rollie says, “I thought popularity made people proud to be a human.”

I stare at him, and then I am flooded with anger and righteous indignation.

And we stare at each other, and his eyes are challenging me.

And then he starts giggling. And I start laughing a true and deep belly laugh.

Because that folks, is how you get your mama real good.

I love him, too. Just for different reasons than I love Tiller.

Bountiful: The Joy of Being a Total Ouiser

Monday, July 18th, 2016

Clairee: “Why do you give all these to me?”
Ouiser Boudreaux: “Somebody’s gotta take em, I hate em, I try not to eat healthy food if I can possibly help it.”

Anelle: “Then why do you grow them?”
Ouiser: “Because I’m an old Southern woman and we’re supposed to wear funny looking hats and ugly clothes and grow vegetables in the dirt. Don’t ask me those questions. I don’t know why, I don’t make the rules!”

–  Steel Magnolias

I’ve been working really hard on looking at positives this Summer. Summer makes looking at positives much easier, what with all the sunshine, and water, and ice cream and such. Basically, that means I’m trying to make quick work of the things I don’t enjoy, and then finding (making) the time to do the things I love. Reading, writing, running, dog cuddles, listening to music, dabbling in the worst painting ever (anyone local want to take a painting class with me?), volleyball. . . Hell, y’all. I’m taking up tennis again. But the thing that absolutely brings me the most joy? My garden.

My garden has expanded in the last couple of years. Instead of the one bed I started out with down at the street, we now have a sunnier spot in the side yard and we’ve put two more beds there. I love vegetables. Pretty much all vegetables. But tomatoes. Oh, tomatoes! They are my heart and soul.

And I went a little bit overboard this year with the tomato plants. Not really, but keeping up with all of them has proven challenging. We have tomatoes lining the windows.

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And tomatoes (and okra, and basil, and cucumbers, and peppers and beans) in baskets.

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In response we’ve taken to pickling and freezing like we were my Grandma. Our fridge is already packed to the gills with pickles. And pickled things. The last few days, we’ve been bombarded with more vegetables than we can possibly eat. I gave a bunch to my sister. And today, I spent the day putting up veggies.

So, I made another jar of dills, and then an extra “Kitchen Sink” jar – Cucumbers, green beans, jalapenos, and banana peppers all jammed in together.

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I made okra and tomatoes. Reminds me of my mama. So good, even if I’m probably the only one that will eat it.

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I’ve already frozen about a kabillion cherry tomatoes, but I froze some more. (Those are easy. Dump them in a bag. Seal the bag. Freeze them. Use over the winter for sauces and soups. Yum.)

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We still have tons more of the cherries, so we will probably make caprese salad for dinner every night this week. My favorite and the kids like it, too. (Although, let’s be honest, it’s just a vehicle for olive oil and mozzarella, right?)

And I also tried out roasting cherry tomatoes and they were so damn good that the neighbor kid and I almost ate them all and had no more to freeze. I’ll have to do those again. Easy and delicious.

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I made a ton of pesto. I usually make it every week or so during the summer and then freeze it. There is nothing better than homemade pesto on a cold night in January. I put it in piles on a cookie sheet and freeze them, then put them in freezer bags for storage.

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This time, though, I put some in mason jars to freeze. I’m hoping that will help with the color issue. Freezing it makes it lose it’s brighter green color and it basically ends up looking like baby poo. It does not taste like baby poo. We’ll see how that goes. That second jar below got hit hard, because I had to taste it and make sure that it tasted alright. It’s gonna be pretty good, I think. I also feel sick from too much pure pesto ingestion.

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And then to cap it all off, I set up some of my herbs to dry: Marjoram, oregano, lemongrass, chamomile, lemon thyme, tarragon, and chives. (Already have a ton of dried basil.) Finally found a use for my grandma’s clothes pins that I brought home from the lake. I couldn’t bear to get rid of them. Weird, I know.

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I know. I’m a total Ouiser. This is universally acknowledged by all who know me: Cantankerous, sharp-tongued, blunt and honest. I’ve just been in a very bad mood for 40 years.

But growing things makes me happy, and makes me feel tethered to the earth, and I am going to be super pleased to have that frozen stuff over the winter. I’m gonna need some help eating the pickles this summer, though, so hit me up if you like pickled things. And I’ll definitely have them at Wednesday night pool dinners, so come by and have some.

P.s. Debbie, if you read this, and you like pickles or pesto or anything else you have seen above, I would like to propose a trade, because I badly want to try your ice cream. Badly.

80’s Phone Etiquette at the Palmer House

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

66861The girl and I had dinner al fresco by the garden tonight.

T: “When I get a phone, i want a pink one.”

Me: “It’s gonna be a while before you get your own phone.”

T: “How old were you when you got your own phone?”

Me: “Um, well, in my late 20s. We didn’t have cel phones until then.”

T: [slack-jawed stare]

Me: “We shared a phone. One of those ones on the wall, and then later we had them in every room, but we all shared the same line.”

T: “What’s a line?”

Me: “Well, like, I could be on the phone in my room, talking to a friend, and my pesky little sister might quietly pick hers up in her room to try and hear my conversation.”

Tiller gasps.

Me: “Or, the phone rings, and two people in the house pick up at the same time, so you could all talk on the same line, except that if your sister’s friend was calling, you just stayed quiet, and you might hear something good you could use against her later.”

Horror. Pure horror on her face.

Me: “OR, say you like a boy, and that boy actually gets the balls to call you, because let’s face it, usually he would have a friend of his, or a friend of yours, ask you if you like him. Because at that age, they are all basically scared. And if they weren’t scared, you should watch out. So, say the boy calls, but it is dinner time. First of all, your dad might pick up the phone, because you are not allowed to answer the phone during dinner. Except, when it is a boy on the other line, and they asked for you, Grandpa would say, ‘I’m sorry, but she can’t make it to the phone right now. She’s eating dinner. May I ask who’s calling? Oh, okay, JOOOHHHNNN.” (Yes, he’d say it like that. ‘We don’t like to entertain calls during dinner time. Or after 10 pm on a school night, either.'”

The look on her face. Disbelief and pure pity.
“And then you would lose your appetite, and cry and stomp away to slam the door to your room. Except you would be hungry like ten minutes later, because you exercised and played outside for like 4 hours straight, and no matter how much you eat, you are always hungry and you never get fat.”

Okay, I lie. I didn’t say that part, because we don’t really talk about body stuff.

I said, “Tiller, can you imagine how horrifying it was for Papaw Palmer to pick up the phone when a boy you like called? Or worse yet, for a dumb boy to call too late at night?”

Tiller just put her head in her hands.

“I had no idea it was that bad back then. I’m so sorry.”

The Most Important Lesson

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

The wife of an old friend posted this today on Facebook.

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I told her “thank you,” because sometimes a parent needs the reminder that they’ve done some really good things as parents. Parenthood is often thankless; Parenting is fucking hard. Teaching my children to read is the most important thing I’ve ever done in my life.

Later, I was walking with Rollie on the cobblestone and brick of St. Augustine and we were discussing how I would be a Grandma one day, if he has kids. I said, “I will feed them candy and coca cola and let them play all the video games they want!”

“I’m going to do that anyway, because I know what kids want,” he said.

“Oh, Honey,” I said, “The worst thing I could do as your parent is give you everything you ever wanted.”

“I won’t give them bad things like unhealthy stuff,” he said. “But video games? All they want.”

I smiled and walked in silence, my arm around his shoulder. He is getting so tall.

I leaned down and whispered in his ear, “Stop growing.”

We walked a few minutes in silence, and then he said, “Mom, how did I learn to read?”

I looked at him, a little shocked, and wondered if he was thinking about the most important lesson he might teach a child of his own.

“Well,” I said, “you know books like, ‘One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish?’ We read those to you over and over again, every night, until we were blue in the face and about to cry of boredom.”

He laughed and nodded his head.

“But all that was worth it, because I got to snuggle in bed with you every night, and it was part of our sweet routine, which I really miss now.”

“You do?” He looked up at me.

I looked at him. “Sometimes.” I am a terrible liar. “And then, one night, all those nights reading ‘The Giving Tree’ to you for hundreds of nights in a row paid off, because I didn’t have to help you sound out the words anymore, and you read ‘The Giving Tree’ to me, all by yourself, while I tried not to cry.”

Rollie said, “Why did you cry?”

“Because it’s probably the most important thing I’ll ever do in my life.”

He nodded. “What was the first thing Tiller read on her own?”

The weight of parent guilt descended upon me.

“Rollie,” I whispered. “I’ll tell you a secret. Not sure if it’s just me, or all parents, but I honestly usually only remember your firsts, because they are my firsts, too. Don’t tell Tiller that.”

We walked. I thought of reading every night with my parents. It was usually my dad in my memory.

“You know, I know what Tiller’s first book was. It was ‘Go, Dog, Go!’ I know it was, because it was my first book, too. I remember reading it, I think in Dunwoody, with Grandpa Palmer. I remember how the words for colors and dogs and size and day and night all started to match the pictures and click. I remember when words started to make sense. I remember wanting really badly to be on that boat with the dogs at night. And, obviously, at that big dog party in the tree.”

Rollie smiled. “Yeah. That book was good.”

“No,” I said, “that book was great.”

My Likeness

Monday, February 29th, 2016

I look at my children and – genetics are so strange – I see a lot of my dad in my son’s hair, and maybe some of me, too (curly, crazy). Tiller has straight and beautiful blonde hair that looks nothing like mine or Todd’s, although it is maybe the same texture as his. She and Rollie both have Todd’s exact same almond-shaped eyes, but Rollie’s are very, very dark, like my mother’s and Todd’s parents, and Tiller’s are lighter, maybe hazel, but more brown than mine, which are also hazel, but with a green tinge.

So, when people tell me Rollie looks just like Todd, I do see it, although his nature is completely Palmer. And Tiller, well, a lot of times people say she looks like me, and I never see that. And her sweet, good-naturedness is all Johnson, with maybe a little smidge from my Mom. Not a lick from me, obviously.

But looks? I have never noticed that we look much alike.

Until I happened to see these two photos next to each other on my Instagram (follow me, I want to see yours):

From left, Tiller, Dash, Me, Brody.

From left, Tiller, Dash, Me, Brody.

Oh good. That didn’t sound creepy at all.

I Swear

Monday, February 8th, 2016

I will be in this moment.
I will trudge on, minute by minute.
Hour by hour.
I will yearn, suppress, and hold in my hand.
Put aside with care.
I will forgive.
I will look for goodness.
I will try to be a better me.
I will try to be better for them all.
I will try to be better for you.
I will choose love, even if it turned out to be more, less, harder, and more painful than I thought it would.
I will pick mercy and never-ending attempts at understanding.
I will err in kindness.
I am sorry that I am an unlocked box.
I am sorry that I lost the key.
I am working on tracking it down.
I hope I find it.
It was here, somewhere. I swear i just had it.

Looking Forward

Thursday, January 28th, 2016

I have been languishing, standing still in one place for months, feeling trapped in the stagnancy of real life, missing my favorite place in the world – and it’s knowledge of constantly possible escape – more than I ever imagined I would, and suffering an almost painful wanderlust. Tonight I booked a flight, and the realization that I have five trips planned in the next four months has me feeling pretty okay. Pretty good mix, too: Three (3!) girls trips, with three very different, very separate, and very awesome groups of ladies. One couples’ trip. One family vacation with a bunch of other families. One flight. Four (4!) road trips. Mountain, beach, desert.
Looking forward is the best.

(Cross-posted on Facebook. I wrote out the post, and then realized I would want this on the blog. It happens that way sometimes.)

Vengeance is in My Heart

Wednesday, January 27th, 2016

Vengeance is in my heart, death in my hand, Blood and revenge are hammering in my head.

-Shakespeare

I drive morning carpool about once a week. I take the girl, two of her friends, their older brother, and one other boy. Both the boys are former schoolmates of my boy’s. Five kids at 7am. They never shut up, but can be entertaining.
This morning, I end up in the wrong lane. I put my blinker on and implore other drivers to let me in. One by one, they pass me by, seemingly not noticing my sad eyes and my insistent blinker. Finally, a guy about my age in a white truck looks right at me. “Yes!” I think. Nope. He totally drives right on by, smiling like The Cheshire Cat at me the whole way.

I was spitting nails.

If I don’t have other people’s kids in my car, this usually means a muttered string of profanities. (Okay, there was that one time where Rollie and the Commune Twins learned the phrase “You fucking dick,” and at high volume, but it was a Saturday Reading Bowl situation and all bets are off when I’m on my first coffee in a Saturday school day obligation scenario.)

This morning’s Fucking Dick, however, earned only a grudging “Jerk.” The kids all agreed. “Yeah, that guy was being a jerk.” Luckily, the next guy let us in, and I pulled in behind the offending white truck, completely giving him the finger in my mind, which is just not as satisfying as the real thing.

Then this exchange:

A, one of the 6th grade boys, says, “You should just rear end him.”

“Believe me, I kind of want to,” I say, “but violence is rarely the answer.”

M., one of Tiller’s Other Twins (she collects twins) says, “A. Loves violence,” in a voice that sounds like she’s saying he loves K-I-S-S-I-N-G girls.

I look back at A. in the rear view mirror. He’s gazing out the window in silence, then responds with a chilling calm, “I don’t love violence; I love revenge.”

Note to self: Don’t cross that kid. Ever.