“Hey Kiddo, I have an idea.”
My wife audibly sucked in her breath on the other end of the phone. She’s used to my “ideas” and to her credit, lets me try a fair number of them. The ones that I think wouldn’t pass her scrutiny, I tend to start first and tell her about later… If they work.
“What’s your idea?”
“Do you want to see a show? I’m looking at two seats to see David Sedaris, live. They’re front row, center, balcony.” I held my breath. I love David Sedaris and the chance to hear him read his stuff in person sounded like a lot of fun.
“When is it and where?”
This was tricky. Not only was the show soon, but it was also a two hour drive away. If we were going to be going to see the performance, it would require kid watching.
“Well, it’s on a Thursday and it’s a drive. I think we can pull it off though. What do you say?”
Silence. Then, “Well, if you think we can swing it… Sure. It would be great to get out and do something fun.”
Gleefully, I hung up the phone and punched my credit card number into the computer, reserving two fantastic seats. We were going out. No, not merely out, we were going out to see a show! After nearly three years of small children, the prospect of going out to see something live made me giddy. Though I love my children with all my heart, I’m pretty sure that since Short Stack joined us in 2006 we have seen exactly three movies, gone out to dinner as a couple no more than five times and gone to see a live performance, zero. There’s a song written by the musician Jonathan Coulton that explains this the best I’ve ever heard it put. He wrote it for his first child when she was born and it’s titled, “You Ruined Everything in the Nicest Way” I find the accuracy of that song to be dizzying. But, hey! We were finally going out! This was going to be fun.
I knew that making this happen was going to require some juggling. For starters, the show didn’t begin until eight o’clock. With an almost two hour car trip to get back home, that meant we were looking at eleven-thirty to midnight for our return time. The added rub is that we wouldn’t actually be home. We’d be close but barred from making the last leg. The problem is, we live on an island. It’s not a very big island and it’s not too far off the mainland, but it is surrounded by water and you do need a boat to get you there. We own no boat and every time a storm blows up, I’m eternally grateful for that fact. It does, however, make us dependent on the ferry and the ferry does not run all night.
So, we wouldn’t get to go home, but that’s not the end of the world. A ways down the coast, my Grandfather has a place and as luck would have it, it would be empty on the dates around the show. Now I had a place to go but needed kid watchers. What I needed were parents. Luckily, I have those too! My folks love to be with their grandchildren and watch them most weekends while I try to do industrious things to the house with spinning saws and overpowered drills. Action Girl works Saturdays and Sundays, so if I’m going to be loud and lumber minded, someone’s got to sit on the children. My folks enjoy this and have gotten comfortable watching two munchkins. What they haven’t done is watch them over night and frankly, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. Lulu Belle is still a wee-critter and gets up two to four times a night and while Short Stack will sleep right through MOST of the time, if something goes wrong, having both kids up and unhappy at three in the morning is just miserable. So, the plan goes thus:
1: Bring kids to my Grandfather’s house on the mainland.
2: Meet my folks there.
3: Go to show
4: Return to Grandfather’s and spend the night.
5: Go home to our island in the morning.
You know where this is going, don’t you?
The first fly in the ointment was that I’m bad at paying attention. I had gotten the date of the show wrong. As things turned out, if I had actually read it correctly, I would have noticed that it took place two days earlier than I had planned. The next problem was that Action Girl worked that day. She would have to take personal time to make it. Then there was the fact that my parent’s couldn’t watch the kids on Tuesday so I’d need to find a sitter. Then, the last straw was the weather. Snow was forecast, and a lot of it too boot.
I gave up. It wouldn’t happen. If it were just me, I probably would have pushed on through sheer bloody-mindedness and testosterone poisoning but with Action Girl giving me “the look”, I admitted defeat. Now I need to find a buyer for my two wonderful tickets.
Anyone on the island would have the same problem that we had. They wouldn’t be able to get home, so I knew that it would be a long shot. Surely, someone would know someone else and a buyer found. I put out the word and called all my friends who were likely suspects. Nothing. No takers anywhere. Lots and lots of them WANTED to go, but for one reason or another, no one could. I heard a lot of, “Aw, MAN!”s. It was time for Craig’s List. The tickets were offered for face value and I waited for a bite. And waited, and waited. The show was just a few days away now. It was really quiet out there. I had one nibble, but no bites.
It would have been a crime to let the seats go unwarmed by someone’s butt and when a friend who had to pass on the tickets her self, called with a lead, I jumped on it. Her roommate would love to see the show. The problem was, being a poor graduate student she was broke. Was I still interested? With a small wince and a thought about this being the Christmas season, I said, “yes”
As it turned out, her roommate wasn’t just happy, she was ecstatic. In our phone conversation, she told me about how things had been going so miserably wrong for her the last month. There had been few bright spots and mostly trial after trial, capped off with the fact that he car had just died and needed to go into the garage. This was the first thing that had gone right for her in weeks. I smiled, told her where to meet me the next morning and packed the tickets in my bag.
The next day, we rendezvoused and I handed over my dream of a night out with my wife to a stranger who had been beaten down by life of late. She was gleeful, thankful and promised me Christmas cookies, banana bread and a piece of her artwork just as soon as she could make it. With a big hug and a “Merry Christmas” she just about danced off in the freshly falling snow.
I hope she has a great time at the show. I’m betting she will. I’m out the money, but honestly, I feel pretty good. It is Christmas, after all.
I will, however, do my best not to notice when eight o’clock on this Tuesday rolls around.