How was your Monday? Really? Yeah, not interested.
There I go again… Sorry. I do care, really I do; it’s just that there’s no way it can compare with mine. Don’t believe me? Check it.
The day began as any other work day. 5:45 AM, the alarm went off. I’ve trained myself to get by on only a few
minutes hours of sleep. I jumped out of bed and hit up my morning routine. This included stumbling to the kitchen to pour myself a cup of ambition and yawning, stretching, tryin’ to come to life. Wait, sorry. That was Dolly Parton. Let’s try this again. I stumbled to the kitchen in my boxers. It’s a good thing my wife’s seen me in my shorts before and my kids were sound asleep AND it was the ass crack of dawn so every soul in North Texas was doing what I should have been doing and was sound asleep. I stopped in front of the mirror to check myself out. Then I got my coffee and sat down for the morning news. Turns out it’s the first day of school for most Texas kiddos. Yeah, it’s meaningless since my students and I are already on week 3. Grabbed a shower, trimmed my stubble, brushed my teeth, and hit the road and wasn’t even quarter to seven yet.
At work I learned (and here’s where it gets real and a little sad) that one of my students is going through an unimaginable tragedy at home and there is nothing that any of us can do. I prayed. Hard. Then I committed to being the eyes and ears, hands and feet of Christ for the next 8 hours. I had a fun time trying out new material on my kids. Have I mentioned how much fun teaching can be? Honestly, I feel like I’m a stand-up comedian with three 90-minute performances a day. The good news is that if something worked once I get to perfect my timing two more times and maximize the laughs. The bad news is that if I bombed, well, the kids are still stuck with me. So I don’t bomb. Here’s an example of a classic, on-the-spot line. A good friend (who’s also a teacher and a juggler) stopped by my classroom. I like to give him a hard time. My students were already hard at work — they’re so diligent at the beginning of the year — as he and I were chatting at the door. “Hey, have you juggled for these kids yet?” I asked. A look conveying both terror and disgust came over his face. I continued, “Did you bring your balls?” It’s great when you have your routine so perfected that you can literally slip something like that past everyone in the room and it sounds completely innocent. What? I was talking about the sphericals he uses to juggle.
After a few more hours of that and a little bit of afternoon traffic I was finally home. My task for the afternoon was to meet up with my mother-in-law Wilma who was watching the kids. My wife was having a dinner party tonight for a fundraising committee she’s chairing. That meant that Buddy the Dog (our Jack Russell Terrier) would have to go to Wilma’s. So, I leashed up the dog, hopped in the car, and drove him over. This was actually adorable. He stuck his head up by the AC vents and basked in the cool air for the short ride. I dropped him off, said hi to my kids (whom she was watching), and dashed off to mass. Thirty-five minutes later, having proclaimed the Word to my fellow parishioners, I headed back to Wilma’s to get my son and take him to his violin lesson.
As I walked in the house Wilma nudged me on the arm and said almost under her breath “Com’ere.” I followed her into the bedroom out of earshot of the kids. She stared at me for a second. “So,” she said, “I got real worried. I couldn’t find Buddy for about thirty minutes.” Right there I started to get worried. Where was this going. My first thought? Buddy’s dead. She continued, “Then I found him. And… He… Well, he’s…” What was I about to hear? Long pause. “He killed a cat.”
He did what now? “He killed a cat.” And then I suddenly remembered the neighborhood cat who had been tormenting poor Buddy for about a month. Every time he’d go over to Wilma’s and she’d let him in the yard this white tabby would get just near the fence, hide in the hedges, and tease the living daylights out of him. I thought for a moment about all of this. Then I said “Well, he did piss him off.” Wilma then revealed to me the gory details. It was terrible. When she “found” Buddy he had apparently snapped and turned into Cujo. He was on the back patio ripping his feline catch limb from limb. “Oh, hon, there was blood everywhere. I didn’t know what to do,” she said in the sweetest Dallas accent you’ve ever heard. I have determined that if anyone ever has bad news to deliver to me, they need to have Wilma deliver it. “I didn’t want the kids to see that so I had to bring him in the house.” This didn’t make much sense until she explained that leaving him outside with the carcass was not an option as he would have completely flipped. Apparently he was on the verge of offering the cat as a sacrifice to Moloch and Wilma, a God-fearing woman, wasn’t having any of that.
“He killed a cat,” she said, nonchalantly.
In the end it was determined that we would both slip the kids quietly out of the house and she would take Buddy to the groomers, you know, for a proper cleaning. I’d love to know how she explained that one. And if I understand correctly, the moral of this story is that thoroughly demolishing one’s enemies yields a trip to the salon.
I whisked my son off to violin, trying not to laugh at the situation. Just when I had composed myself my boy set me off again. He was giving me a hard time about his imminent lesson. “Son,” I said, “You’re Daddy’s boy. You can do anything you set your mind to.” It seems someone inherited a bit of comic timing from his old man. “That’s not true,” he replied. “Sometimes I set my mind to flying and… it doesn’t work.” I burst out laughing harder than before. And then he interjected, “Daddy, that wasn’t a joke.”
At violin I learned more about the continuing saga of his imaginary brother. He’s told his violin teacher about this faux-bro. “How’s your imaginary brother doing?” she asked him, trying to initiate small talk. “He died,” came the response. “Hmm,” I said, “That’s a new development.” Son continued to inform us that his brother’s last wish was that he (my son) not be forced to play any instrument he did not like and violin tops the list. “Nice try, young man…” I said, “but you’ve got talent and Daddy’s prepaid for the month.”
So you see I had to take the lad to Chick-fil-a afterwards for some father-son bonding time and to celebrate the very happy family life we have and to give thanks for the joy of a job that lets me be me and to mourn for that cat and to put the terrier’s deeds out of our mind and to laugh and to pray and to have a good time as we close out an ordinary Monday in our wonderful lives.