“Touch My Medal”
A few weeks ago, I was walking home from CVS. It was the day of the Pittsburgh Marathon. There were people ahead of me who were waking too slow and I didn’t feel like passing them so I crossed over to the other side of the street which I rarely walk on.
THESE ARE ALL IMPORTANT FACTS CONDUCIVE TO MY STORY.
So I’m walking, walking, walking when suddenly, from the opened passenger door of a parked car comes a familiar sounding “Hello!” Shit, I think, slowing my roll. I looked over and sure enough it’s JOE, the neighborhood Mr. Atlas who loves to strut around town in the summer in semi-indecent runners shorts and a greased-down mega-tanned body. He’s probably in his late 50s so it’s a little much, you know?
(Sorry all you quinquagenarians.)
Anyway, if there are any long-time readers left on this sinking ship, they might remember Joe as the man who ever so briefly deemed himself our official lawn mower back in, say, 2006 or 2007. Except he would always show up unexpectedly and then want to get paid and I never had cash on me! So then it turned it A Thing, like the paperboy on Better Off Dead, and Henry one day was like “Wait–why is he even cutting our grass anyway?”
I think he was the official grasscutter of whoever was living next to us at the time (some guy named Fish, I think), and I happened to be outside at some completely inopportune moment, probably with Chooch’s chubby baby-body clinging to me, rendering me unable to flee with the quickness, and I just couldn’t remember the word “no.”
So that’s how Joe started cutting our grass.
Then one day he decided he was going to be our personal landscaper as well when he saw an unplanted bed of flowers on the porch. He came at me with this grand blueprint involving Italian mulch filling up a tin triangle of our yard, with the price tag of $70. At the price, I suddenly remembered how to say no in 8 languages, including whichever one that is that involves a cool, swift kick to the nuts. German, probably.
So, after that rejection and having to chase down one last $7, Joe never came around again. We still see him all the time around town, but he always pretends like he doesn’t see us, those cheap motherfuckers at 3021 who don’t love their yard seventy dollars worth.
(We live on a main drag in Brookline, guy. I’m not paying $70 to have some drug addict or wino stumbling home from the bar at 2 in the afternoon vomit all up in the Italian mulch and petunias. I literally JUST watched some asshole puke on the sidewalk near our house and then I almost STEPPED in it the next day. So fucking gross.)
So back to the Pittsburgh Marathon day. Joe is sitting in the passenger side of a parked car, one leg out on the sidewalk, cordially saying hello to me like he’s so excited to see me after all these years.
I said hello back and figured that would be the end of it, but then he asked me how I’ve been and if there’s one thing I love doing, IT’S TALK ABOUT MYSELF ALL FUCKING DAY LONG, so that was enough to get me to linger for an additional second.
But it was just a fucking ploy to brag to me about how he ran in the marathon that day.
“How come I didn’t see you down there?” he asked me in a gross, flirtatious chide. And then I became acutely aware of the fact that before I left the house, I realized my lips were stained with the black icing I was using on the baby shower cookies and I had used HOT PINK lipstick to cover it up for the time being. I mean, my lips were practically beacons for my bordello, a neon sign displaying my going rate.
I fought the urge to wipe it off with the back of my hand, because then I’d just look like I woke up from a bender, so instead I politely said, “Because I don’t run” and almost started telling him that I’m more of a Kpop dancer before I realized that WAIT A MINUTE, I was trying end this conversation, not open up a side topic with dance numbers.
I hoped that would be the end, please let me leave, release me from your small talk chains.
“Do you want to see my medal?” he asked.
I mean…kind of?
I shrugged. “Sure.”
He lifted it from his neck and I pretended to be really amazed but look bro, it ain’t the fucking Secret of NIMH amulet.
“You can touch it,” he urged, thrusting it toward me.
UGH SO I TOUCHED HIS FUCKING MEDAL, OK?! I DID IT.
UGH it probably had so much of his sweat dried to it.
“The Secret Life of Chooch”
When I came home from work on Tuesday, Chooch immediately started jawing off about how we didn’t pack him a lunch for his track meet that day, how could we, we’re the worst, etc etc.
But let’s back up a few hours.
Earier that afternoon, Henry sent me a screenshot of Chooch’s school’s Facebook page, which I do NOT follow because I don’t want any of them knowing me. (“Oh my god, can you imagine if the school found your blog?” Todd laughed. “‘That lady’s a MOM?!'” And then I laughed too but it’s only kind of funny considering that’s already happened to me once at a different school.)
So this screenshot. Back to the screenshot.
It was a picture of the boys track team at their meet earlier that day.
And Chooch was front and center in that picture.
“Chooch is on the track team?” I texted back.
“Apparently,” Henry said.
THIS IS HOW WE FOUND OUT THAT NOT ONLY DOES HIS SCHOOL HAVE A TRACK TEAM, BUT OUR SON IS ON IT.
So Henry and I let him play out his sob story about how he was the only kid without a lunch (hello, he never packs a lunch! He eats the school lunch everyday!), and then when he finished, we started firing questions at him about this so-called track team.
“When do you even practice?” I asked.
“We only practiced once, yesterday after lunch,” Chooch said calmly because this kid knows he can weasel his way out of any conflict.
“Shouldn’t there have been a paper or something that we needed to sign?” Henry asked.
“There was. I signed it,” Chooch said with a shrug.
“What do you even do in track, anyway?” I asked him later.
“Long-jump. I came in sixth.” Long jump?? I didn’t even know he could short jump!
Ugh, come talk to me when you come in at least second, kid.
P.S. I wonder who that message is from in Henry’s Facebook screenshot? PROBABLY HIS GF, OBV. What if he proposes to her and not me?! Whatever–he’s taking me to see G-Dragon, not her. I win.