Life Face First: Negotiating One Calamity at a Time

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Crazy Can Be A Good Thing 

“Your hair looks crazy.” This from my five-year-old niece whose unbrushed hair hung in her face and threatened her hot chocolate.

It was Thanksgiving morning and we were at my parents’ house. I’d spent the last thirty minutes curling my hair in the guest bathroom.

My husband Brian, our dog Starla and I traveled to my parents’ for the holiday. We’d arrived the night before; and naturally, both of my nieces insisted on spending the night too though they live a mere two miles away.

I replied to my niece Nicole who was still staring at my hair. “Thank you.”

She gave me the exasperated look children give adults when they think the geriatric fool doesn’t understand them.

“I said it looks crazy,” she said flatly. It wasn’t a compliment.

“Thank you,” I said again. I understood her the first time. “Crazy can be a good thing.”

Her face said maybe, but not in this case.

I ignored the look. She’s cute, but she doesn’t know much about hair. Hers has a marshmallow stuck in it.

I looked beyond my niece to my dog. Starla was imprisoned in my parents’ laundry room, detained from the family by the cold iron bars of a baby gate.

Securing her invitation to my parent’s new house (where she wasn’t wanted) took skill, manipulation, and an offering of four packages of dinner rolls. We also had to agree that she would spend the holiday in the laundry room on the tile floor.

My parents didn’t want her walking through the rest of the house because they feared her nails would scratch the pristine new hardwood floors.

When they explained this, I replied baffled, “But I trim her nails. Besides, my nieces are far more likely to scratch…” They cut me off before I could finish.

I know Starla’s paws won’t scratch the floors, but they don’t, so Starla stays in the laundry room.

She doesn’t want for company. My niece, the one with the marshmallow in her hair, spends most of her time with the dog. When we arrived the day before, Nicole flew past Brian and I and threw her arms around the dog in delight.

She’s ignored me and made fun of my hair. My budget for her Christmas gift is deflating faster than my curls are falling out.

My father entered the kitchen and Nicole leapt from her chair.

“Granddaddy,” she exclaimed, “look at my toy!” She wielded a brightly colored bit of hard plastic. I couldn’t tell what it was supposed to be.

Suddenly, the toy flew from her hand, banged against the floor and left a long scratch on the formerly pristine hardwood.

Starla watched innocently from the laundry room.

My father whirled on me. “Not a word,” he said. “Not a single word.”

My smile was both innocence and sarcasm – a skill I learned from him. No words were needed. Vindication is sweet.

Crazy can be a good thing. Agreeing to my parents’ silly stipulation that Starla stay in the laundry room might seem crazy to Brian and I, but at least my dog was in the clear.

Nora Blithe

Nora Blithe is the author of the syndicated humor column “Life Face First.” Read her blog online at doorinface.com or contact her at norablithe@gmail.com.