Salty Tears and Somersaults

In Uncategorized on October 30, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Personal space has been in short supply in our house for quite some time. We have had kids doubled up in rooms for years, and we actually have quite a few rooms. However, things changed a bit over this last summer. The oldest, who has been attending South Plains College in Levelland TX, found an apartment in Lubbock TX, and branched out on her own. We are proud of her, but The Middles were ecstatic. (The Middles are my two freshmen girls for those of you not having read This World of Hurt before).

There is a term, Dead Man’s Shoes; it’s rarely used anymore. Nobody really knows where it came from. Maybe an ancient nautical term dating back to when shoes were hard to come by on a sailing ship, or perhaps it references battlefield promotions during war, or it just be a position with no designated retirement age, but they all tell the same message: You’re not getting this until somebody dies. Thus Dead Man’s Shoes, and that’s what The Middles were so happy about. Somebody dies, and somebody else gets promoted. Somebody moves out, and a room becomes vacant. Somebody else moves in.

In fare Verona and all that,(look it up), I tell you this to set the stage.

My father was in town over the weekend, and we were spending a little time as a family. The moving process was smooth. The Middles talked it over, decisions were reached, one packed, and the other helped her pack. But as it tends to happen to all of us who have more than one place to keep our stuff, moving all of the belongings from one place to another continues to drag on. And this was the catalysis to the explosion.

My wife was scolding the Middles over the condition of their room, to which one blamed the other for the untidiness. To paraphrase, one said, “I’ve been keeping my room clean. The only thing on my floor, are the clothes that she left in there when she moved into the other room.”

As you can imagine, the comment elicited a response from the other, which in turn, created a snowball effect. Tensions became tight, voices became elevated, and they were displaying the same mannerisms they used to when they were 9, and I had to hold them apart while their angry fists swung at the empty air between them. My wife had instinctively assumed her feet apart, knees bent, hands flat, fingers extended ninja defense pose, her eyes darting from one child to the next, ready for action.

I was slowly backing out of the room, my head swiveling about looking for safe harbor, which I found, as my wise old father had already dropped anchor on the living room couch. Pirates stick together.

I looked at my father, and he looked at me, eyes wide. If we had popcorn, we would have popped it, because there was about to be a boxing match. Let’s get ready to rumble.

The arguing gave way to yelling, hands turned to fists, teeth clinched, and jaws set. And then. … something entirely unexpected happened. The lips on one of the set jaws quivered. A domino effect, a chain reaction moving from crinkled cheeks, to closed eyes, to slack shoulders, and then. … crying. This emotion created a desire to be hugged, and she reached for her sister. Despite the preparation to defend herself in bloody combat just seconds before, the sister returned the gesture, locking into an embrace.

Some kind of electrical current was exchanged, perhaps some kind of unknown female emotion sharing program that men are ignorant of, but whatever the science, the other one began to cry as well. There were exchanges of I love yous and laughter. It was like falling down an elevator shaft. First you’re here, and then you’re Ahhhhhh.

I looked at my father, and he looked at me, eyes wide. If we had Olympic score cards, we would have held them up, displaying straight 10s across the board for the feat of emotional gymnastics that we just witnessed; even the Canadian judge would have given them a 9.5 for the ninja pose alone.

I will admit, like much of my life living with my girls, I can understand part only of it. At least in principle. After all, men have a similar way of working out issues. We just don’t typically cry or hug. If some fella wrongs us, it’s not uncommon to go exchange a few words, throw a few punches, buy him a beer afterwards, and become best friends for 40 years. But like I said earlier, pirates stick together.

So, plot a sound course for safe harbor, and keep a weather eye on the horizon, because the winds of change move quickly when you’re in the middle of This World of Hurt.


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