The Hurry-Stop Syndrome
It was nice to be back in the air conditioning. After a couple hours of beating chests with brutes on the basketball court, all I wanted to do was lie down and relax. No sooner as I had gotten my shoes off, dug a spot for my head in the pillow, and tried to ignore the throbbing in my knees, the master of the house called me upstairs.
"I was thinking about pizza,” she said. "Why don’t you call.”
Scratching myself and scraping some quickly forming crust from my eyes, I yawned and said, "All right.”
I picked up the phone and dialed that number that years of TV had drilled into my head. I could almost hear the tune from the commercial as I punched each number.
"Thank you for calling,” said the girl at the pizza shop, "can you hold please.”
In this half-stupor mind, a novel concept actually came to my brain. I said, "No, actually, I can’t.”
She said, "Thank you,” and put me on hold.
A few minutes later she came back and asked me what I wanted. What I really wanted was to know why she had bothered asking me if I could hold the line, but I refrained from asking since I was starting to get hungry. After the order, the girl said, "Your order will be there in about an hour.”
I hung up the phone and went back to the couch. I closed my eyes, ready for a decent nap. I tried to ignore that monotonous, repetitive thumping noise coming from the kids’ video game, but it wouldn’t go away. Even when I had drifted off to a boat on some far-off Canadian lake, the frogs and birds kept making that same video game noise. When the knock on the door finally came, I almost missed it, as it sounded more like a glitch in the game than a dinner bell.
I handed out the cash, put the food on the table and called the kids. One was immediately mad that there were mushrooms. Another was upset that there was no sour cream. One just wanted to lick the cheese off. A couple more wanted four pieces instead of three. Perhaps a couple more were taking off the pepperonis. And heaven only knows what those twins in the corner were yapping hysterically about.
Trying to fight off the headache, I called upstairs and said, "How many kids do we have.”
The answer had changed since yesterday, and the day before, and the day before that. I grabbed my food and headed straight for my spot on the couch. As my body was easing back onto the cushions, there was an immediate chorus of crying from the kitchen. "Where’s the pop?”
"You forgot the pop!”
"You said you’d get Sprite! Coke! Orange!”
Clenching my teeth, I said, "There’s water.”
Then I was saved. Mommy was coming downstairs. She got them all settled and off my back. I half-smiled and settled in. I only blinked, and there she was standing in front of me. Smiling, batting those pretty eyes, she leaned up close and gave me that cute little pouting lip. "I was hoping that you would get something cold to drink with this.”
A kiss later I was out the door and in the van, heading to the store. I’m not sure exactly how that happened, but it did. I was tired and hungry and hot, and I hadn’t even had a shower yet. The traffic seemed to be getting pretty thick, too. In fact, the first half of my journey, an entire three blocks, took ten minutes. I almost got to the intersection when the light turned red. And there I waited.
Green. Green means go. Should I remind the lady? Should I honk? All right, this is ridiculous. I honked. I think she waved or pointed up or something, then sat there. Halfway through yellow she sped through. I slammed on the gas and hurried up to stop at the stop bar when the light was red again. And there I waited.
It was 5:30.
At 6:30 I was home. The kids were already outside scattered across the four corners of our neighborhood. My lady was already cleaning up Kool Aid spills. At least the video games were off. I turned on the Discovery Channel and settled down to eat cold pizza and drink warm pop. Finally.