Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If It's Not Broke...

“Yes, I’ll do the dishes,” I said to Verna moments before she got out of Dodge. OK, more like a few hours before she left for the weekend by herself.

In the when-it-rains-it-pours department: the normally reliable dishwasher, which is only one or two years old, flashed an error message and shut down completely while filled with foul smelling dishes. So Verna washed the bottom row before she left for her brother’s house in Arroyo Grande (four hours south) and instructed me, while I was at work, to tackle the first row.

“I’ll take care of it,” I assured her. And I did. Washing dishes isn’t that big of a deal. I did consider eating out every night with the kids in order to avoid the chore. But my economic sense ruled the day. So it was scrub, scrub, scrub.

Adding to our why-me-moment, the malfunction light on our minivan, which we bought at what was then a good price from our neighbor the used car dealer, started flickering and the car kept lurching backward whenever we drove uphill.

Verna and I thought transmission replacement, engine problems, or other assorted automobile repair nightmares that would be covered under the service warranty we purchased when we acquired the car this past January.

We only paid $6500 for the car, but since we got it we’ve had to replace all the fluids, which were all dirty, the brakes, which were 90% worn, and now we find out the car never had its 100,000 mile service. [Yes, in hindsight we should’ve done a diagnostic before we bought the car.]

So the $6500 car has cost us an additional $2000 since it joined us not quite six months ago. Our neighbors are quite friendly, but once a used car salesman…

None of this weighed too heavily on Verna’s mind as she embraced her first weekend without kids or husband in more than a dozen years. The reason for her escape was a family wedding in Newport Beach, just south of Los Angeles. She went down there with her brother and his wife.

And they had a great time. Verna slept past 8:30 on Sunday and Monday mornings, reconnected with a couple of first cousins, met some other family, and celebrated a joyous occasion without her usual daily worries and routines.

And I had the kids, which is always an adventure and a blessing. Saturday afternoon, one of our neighbors literally plopped on our couch while Maya napped so Miguel and I could join a few of his Little League buddies at the movies. We saw Night at the Museum: The Battle for the Smithsonian, which wasn’t as entertaining as the first one.

Miguel and I also watched two movies, Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and The Goonies. He really liked Star Wars and thought The Goonies was pretty good. Oy, my son the movie critic. He also finished the book he was reading and watched Maya two mornings while I worked out.

Sunday, Miguel joined two of our neighbors, Alyssa and Victoria, for a women’s soccer match featuring Marta, considered by many to be the best female soccer player in the world. He came home bubbling about the players, the match, and wanting to go again.

“Dad, dads get in free before Father’s Day,” he said, handing me a promotion for June 7. “Can we go?”

“Sounds like a good idea,” I said.

Maya and I spent a lot of time in the park. She was in her domestic mode, so she served me several delectable entrees with woodchips and sand.

“What are you making now?” I asked.

“Pasta,” she said.

“Is there anything else in it?”

“Chicken,” she said, which explained the larger and almost chunkier woodchips.

When Verna came home around dinnertime on Monday, Maya raced out to greet her with a yelp and laughter. She must’ve told her several times, “I love you, Mommy. I love you, Mommy.”

Even Gigi, our puppy that just turned one, accosted Verna with long-lost fervor. It was a welcome home Verna deserved. She later said of all of us, “Absence does make the heart grow fonder. Sometimes I just need to get away.”

In the Holy Crap Department: how can the supposedly bastion of liberalism and open-mindedness that is California deny people equal rights? Yes, I am talking about same-sex marriage. While I am glad the court preserved the same-sex marriages performed before Prop. 8, I am very saddened and angry that certain loving and consenting adults cannot join together in holy matrimony. It’s wrong and absurd and inhumane.

No, I don’t feel better by venting. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

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