Being anything but shy, I completed my deliveries with a grin and a little light conversation (all part of the service). I don’t recall if I made any tips, but I’m willing to bet that I made some good will, which is saying something when you consider that easily a quarter of the ordered drink was likely sloshing around the wrong side of their glass and collecting at the bottom of my little serving tray. Though I seriously doubt that my own son will have the opportunity to reenact my mini-bar delivery service, the point is this: He would if he could.
If Short Stack thinks that there is a modicum of a hint of a possibility that some random person might like to know what he’s thinking about, rest assured, he’ll let them in on it. It would take little coaching to get him to pin wings on his shirt and set forth to take stock of what was going on with each and every person on that flight. This links into reason number two as to why I want and secure a passport for my chatty little munchkin.
The darker side to being an open and talkative kid is that you inevitably give your parents nightmares about someone walking off with you. I don’t know exactly how many times my own folks and I had “The Talk” about being careful and not too trusting of strangers, but it wouldn’t surprise me to find out if it had been weekly.
Mom: “What ever you do, don’t go anywhere with someone you don’t know.”
Me: “Yah. I know.”
“Dad” “REALLY! It’s not safe! I know you like to make friends, but you have to be careful!”
Me: “Ok. I will. I promise.”
Mom: “Good, it’s just that you’re so friendly and… well… we want to keep you safe.”
Random Stranger: “Oh! You must be Matt’s parents!”
You can see why I caused them fits. Now it’s my turn to get to see it from the other side and I’ll tell ya, nightmares a-plenty.
So, I wanted my son to have some I.D. and being in character with my normal modus operandi, I had pushed things to the edge in terms of timing. The turn around time to get your passport is four to six weeks. Out trip would be in almost exactly four. I must like living like this, because it’s how I seem to do things the vast majority of the time. Pressure is my friend, if not at least my excuse to have another cocktail.
“Ok Buddy. We’re going to town this morning so I need your help with getting ready, OK?”
My statement of encouragement might sound benign enough but there was some serious pleading involved in a sort of “as read” kind of way. Short Stack is not the most responsive person in the world when it comes to hurrying. As with most of us with active imaginations, what’s going on inside the head is often far more engaging that what’s happening outside. Unobserved, time tends to slip away like water down a storm drain. Add to this mix the fact that we live on an island where the ferry waits for no one, and the race out the door can get down right exciting. Luckily, the landing is down hill. Come to think of it, if it wasn’t, I think I’d have bigger problems.
As my son sat at the breakfast table ignoring his waffle in favor of pretending his hand was the Apollo Lunar Lander, I busied myself with gathering necessary documents needed to prove that he was whom I purported him to be so we could get his own little blue book with the eagle on it. We had fifteen minutes until boat time. Plenty! As I dug through the fire proof safe where we keep the really important documents, I started to sweat.
“Honey…” I tried to keep the panic from my voice. “Where’s his birth certificate?”
“It’s in the safe. Right? Isn’t it?”
No, no it wasn’t. This was bad.
Twelve minutes to boat time.
My wife and I have many strengths. She can cook sumptuous meals for any number of guests. I can wield just about any kind of construction tool and do a pretty good job with it. She can pilot huge ocean going boats. I can quote Monty Python ad nauseum until your ears bleed. What we are bad at, in fact utterly fail at, is paperwork. We both hate it, avoid it and try not to think about it. So, when we have something important that needs to be filed and kept, there is just one place for it: The safe. When it’s not there, God only knows where it might have gone.
*Insert comical running about and tearing the house apart routine here*
As the two adults ripped though piles of ancient and semi-discarded documents which lived in jaunty piles throughout the house, Short Stack did a perfect landing in the Sea of Tranquility, completely missing the luke warm waffle, forgotten on his plate and utterly ignorant of the mad rush going on around him, either of which might have jeopardized his mission and the crew entrusted to his care. President Kennedy would have been proud.
Eight minutes to boat time.
I stood in blank resignation, rooted to the spot in the basement where I officially ran out of ideas where it could be. Doom. Ah, the peppery smell of doom.
“Found it!” The triumphant cry from my wife sent me bolting up the stairs, taking three at a time.
“Never mind that! Get Short Stack ready!”
She was right of course. I could let her take care of her end. My job was to pour a three year old into a coat, shoes, hat and mittens, all in less that a minute. It’s at times like this that it’s simply easier to handle a child like they are a large doll. Giving them instructions will only slow everything down. With a scoop under the arms, my son was swept off his chair, over his little sister dutifully getting into the box of cheerios in the middle of the kitchen floor and right to the front door. He’s used to this sort of treatment by now and puts up little resistance. Mostly he was ticked that I interrupted Neil Armstrong’s historic moonwalk.
Six minutes to boat time.
As my wife wrestled the baby album that held the now found birth certificate, I wrestled winter gear onto Short Stack.
“Screw it! Take the whole page!” The album had apparently steadfastly refused to release the document and she had officially had it. With a pop, my wife simply yanked out the offending leaf from the book, pictures and all. I dove into my own boots and coat, grabbed my bag, my son, the birth certificate and fled the house.
Letting Short Stack walk under his own power was right out if we were to have any shot at all of making the ferry and since my wife was less than enthused at the idea of me ploinking him onto my shoulders and then running down the sand strewn street to the dock, she kindly drove us down at, if not break neck speed then at least at sprang neck. We made it on with at least two minutes to spare. We weren’t even the last ones. That’s all I ask. I just don’t want to be last.
The opera that is leaving the house, being over, the two of us settled into a seat and watched out island shrink away as we cruised across the bay.
“Daddy, did you bring…”
With a flourish and before he could finish, I reached into my satchel and produced the most important piece of our outing. His wooden Space Shuttle.
Within seconds, he was someplace else and in charge of yet another space launch. Yes, this would all be worth it.