Jeannie’s Second Chance

I love my sister. I really do. As siblings, we were childhood playmates and tattle tales.  As teenagers, we were each other’s confidants and rivals. We have an unspoken bond that says no matter how stupid the idea, no matter how many times we try the same thing to the same disastrous end, we will defend to our last breath the right of each other to give something ridiculous one more shot.

Thus, Thanksgiving at the Walters is being brought to us by Jeannie, my sister, nature’s enemy of all things culinary. She wanted to try just one more time to host Thanksgiving.

I broached the subject with Lex. “Oh, please, sweetheart. I’ll be there to help.”

Lex paced back and forth in the bedroom. I could tell she was trying her level best not to be negative, but she was also aware that as she got closer to being forty years old, her stomach had its own ideas about what she is allowed to put into it. And none of those ideas included poisoning at the hand of her dear sister-in-law.

“One condition. It’s all I ask.”

“Anything.” The way Lex looked so pitifully at me made me cave in immediately. She could ask anything of me. That’s how effective her pout is with me. Fortunately, she saves it for really important things, like when I’m too tired for, well, you know.

“Ask Jeannie to cook the meal here.  We have a much larger kitchen and there are places to put things. We’ve got that huge fridge and you and Jeannie can do the prep work here on Wednesday so she won’t be overwhelmed.”

“That’s really thoughtful of you, love. No wonder I married you.”  I patted the bed next to me, inviting Lex to join me.

I tugged her down beside me and wrapped myself around her.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Lex grinned and could hardly suppress chuckling before letting me in on the joke. “Rodney told me what you were up to, so I’ve already put a fire extinguisher in each lower cabinet, just in case.  And there’s ipecac in each upper cabinet. And there are 2 buckets of sand in the mud room.  And since Rodney will be here, we’ve got medical care covered.”

Later that day, we told the girls that their Aunt Jeannie would be cooking Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Lorrie looked as if she were going to cry.  “Aw, mom. You know Aunt Jeannie can’t cook. She can barely manage peanut butter sandwiches. If it weren’t for microwave ovens, they’d all starve.”

Being the helpful sort, Lex had to go there. “How’d she set fire to the last one, anyway?” Lex pretended to ponder the circumstances of each disaster.  “I remember when she plugged one into a 220 line. Then there was the one that caught on fire cause she put an aluminum pan in it.”

“Mommy, remember the last one? Aunt Jeannie… mmph!” Lex had her hand clamped securely over Lorrie’s mouth. She’d noticed that I was going from chagrined to pissed off in record time.

“If you are all quite done.” I glared at Lex and Lorrie. Melanie had crawled up onto my lap and hugged me.

“I love you, Mommy. Don’t be mad.  Aunt Jeannie can cook here. Maybe our oven won’t lock her food inside.” Then she planted a big kiss on my cheek and gave me another hug. “I like Aunt Jeannie’s baloney sandwiches.”

That was my undoing. I had reversed course and started laughing uncontrollably. I hugged my daughter and gave Lex the “all clear” nod that let them know they’d live to see another day.

We did have turkey on Thanksgiving.  Martha and Charlie brought it up from their cottage and it was wonderful.  Her dressing rocked, too.  I made the mashed potatoes and green beans.  Lorrie made her first pumpkin pie.  As for Jeannie and Lex, we got them to watch a few cooking shows on television and they decided they could handle the job of expediters. And they got to wear the “Kiss the cook” aprons as they nibbled on everything to make sure it all tasted good.

Rodney was just thrilled that he could watch football with Charlie and not have to use his medical skills for at least one meal. Another disaster averted!

Happy Thanksgiving from the Walters gang.

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Mrs. Carlson’s Worst Day

We pulled up into the school parking lot and noticed that several of the teachers’ cars were gone. This was normal since it was already 90 minutes since school let out. Lights were on in some of the classrooms, so we figured that Mrs. Carlson was waiting for us in her room.  We left all the documents and pictures we’d brought with us in the truck and decided to just let our sparkling personalities do the work.

You’d think we’d discuss even a little strategy, or who was going to be ‘good cop’ vs. ‘bad cop’.  But we didn’t. After a dozen or so years together, it was entirely unnecessary, like how Lex knew to pull me back when I was about to go after that mead tramp with a lance aimed at her posterior. She could feel the tension, the little things that told her I was particularly homicidal, and, especially “and” not to laugh about it later.

We went inside and let the office staff know we were there.  I asked for the principal and showed him the composition and the note that Mrs. Carlson sent home with Lorrie.  He looked at them and handed them back without a word. When he returned to his office the school secretary looked them over and asked, “What do you have in mind, Lex?”

“Nothing requiring hospitalization or the sheriff’s intervention,” Lex assured her.

“Says who?”

The school secretary snickered and patted me on the shoulder.  “I tend to side with your wife, Lex. This new sub thinks the sun rises and sets on her brilliance.” Then she leaned in to whisper, “Big f’n pain in the ass, if you ask me. Big city stuck up.” Waving us on to the door, she said, “Just let me know where to bury the body when you get done.  Good luck!”

I felt better. I could tell that Lex did, too.  We decided that the best way to deal with a pompous ass is to keep them off kilter. Lex unbuttoned her shirt so that the start of her cleavage could be seen. I handed her my brush and she used it to tame her hair and make herself look downright irresistible. “Mr. Walter, indeed!” she said, and grinned at me.

I lost focus for a moment.  See, I have a particularly strong admiration for Lex’s assets. Once, a view of her cleavage nearly caused me to drive off a bridge. The attraction is as strong as ever, even after all these years.

I snapped to. Literally, because Lex was snapping her fingers and waving her hands in front of my face to bring me back from that erotic haze that had swept over me.  “Okay, I can do this.” We talked strategy for a moment and then headed off to Mrs. Carlson’s room. I went in first.

“Hello? I’m Amanda Walters.”  Then I held out my hand for her to shake.  “Lex will be right in.”

“Eleanor Carlson. I’m your daughter’s teacher.” She took a moment to size me up, which was okay, since I was doing the same with her.  “Will your husband be long?”

“I’m not really long, just tall.” Lex said in the sultriest voice that I rarely heard outside of our bedroom.

If that teacher’s head hadn’t been attached to her neck, her head would have flown out of the window from whipping it around to get a look at the owner of that voice.

The teacher started backing up as Lex stalked her. Really. Lex looked like a jungle cat stalking her prey. It’s not so much the intimidation, it’s the attitude. It’s the sultry, sexy way that Lex can use to bring an opponent to their knees begging. Hell, it’s why my very straight sister cannot resist flirting with Lex. This woman, my wife, my love, the very essence of sexy, was making Mrs. Carlson back up into the student desks, chairs, and finally her own desk.

“Let’s see if we can clear the air, okay?”

Mrs. Carlson nodded.

“As you can see, I am not a man.”

Mrs. Carlson nodded.

“So referring to me as Lorrie’s father is out of the question.”

Mrs. Carlson nodded.

“Lorrie is spelled “L-o-r-r-i-e”, got it?”

Mrs. Carlson nodded.

“Our last name is Walters—with an ‘s’.”

Mrs. Carlson nodded.

“Amanda is my wife and the mother of our two daughters, Lorrie and Mel, and our son, Eddie.”

Mrs. Carlson nodded.

“Lorrie will probably inherit our ranch when she is grown, if that is her wish.”

Mrs. Carlson nodded.

“It seems to me that the only one having gender identification problems is you. I think that Lorrie has correctly identified her sister, Mel, as the one who likes to dress up like a princess, and her brother, who isn’t toilet trained yet, as the one with the poopy drawers.”

I’m sorry, but I have to say, that the way she looked at the cowering teacher even made words like “poopy drawers” sound wonderful.

Lex handed the composition to me. My turn at bat.

“So, Mrs. Carlson.”

She looked at me while trying to compose herself.

“Exactly what grammatical mistakes were there in this composition?”

She just stared at me without answering.

“Um hum.  Aside from your presumptuous belief that you know better about our household than our own daughter does, does this composition meet the requirements for the assignment?”

She weakly nodded her head again. “I…uh…I’ll just change that grade, okay?” She sat down at her desk and changed the grade on the paper and in her grade book to ‘A’.

“If you have any questions about our life, just ask.”

Mrs. Carlson stood and looked like she was trying to make up her mind as to whether she should hold her hand out for a handshake or not.

I took her hand and briefly shook it. As I was about to turn to leave, Lex leaned in and said in her deepest, darkest, usually saved for when we’re playing our version of dress-up, voice, “If you ever berate our child, or grade her according to your own misconceptions instead of her academic merit, I’ll be back.”

Then Lex turned and swayed herself right out of the room. As we started down the corridor, we overheard, “Listen, Paul.  We need to talk about this. I don’t care what your family thinks. I’m going home. ”

We winked at the school secretary as we passed her office  and set about driving back home.  Lorrie was fairly beside herself waiting for us to tell her the outcome.  We called her to the mudroom instead of making her wait.

“Did you kick her ass?”

“Now, sweetie, is that something you should ask?” I decided to have a little fun with my child. “I mean, really?  It’s not like she’s a cattle rustler or something.”

“No, but she’s a jerk!” Lorrie insisted.

Lex pulled Lorrie into a hug.  “Amanda, Lorrie does have a point.”  Then Lex handed Lorrie her composition so she could see the corrected grade.

“Thanks!” She hugged us both and ran back to the kitchen to tell Martha.

“I bet there’s a letter of resignation on the principal’s desk in the morning.” Lex took my arm and we headed to the den to relax for a bit.

“I didn’t really want her to—“ Lex gave me that knowing grin. I confessed. “Okay, so yes I did.” I kissed Lex on the cheek.  “So, you sexy rancher, how about using that sultry voice with me for a little while? We can even play dress up.”

My Best Day, By Lorrie Walters

Lorrie came into the den and handed me the composition she’d received back from her substitute teacher today.  Lorrie’s regular teacher was out on maternity leave, and Mrs. Carlson was finishing out the school year for her.

There was a note attached to the composition, addressed to “the parents of Lorie Walter.”  The paper, itself, bore a “C-“ in red ink at the top of the first page. Lorrie was angry.

If there is one thing my daughter is good at, it’s compositions.  She typically receives the highest grades for her efforts. She has also won state writing contests for the past two years on a row. So you can imagine how disappointed with her grade she was.

I gave Lorrie a hug and promised that Lex and I would look it over and discuss it with her teacher.  She hugged me back and whispered, “Kick her ass, mom,” before she went outside to take care of her chores.

“Lorrie!” It was hard to scold my daughter when her mother was thinking the same thing. Once Lorrie was out the door, I made myself a cup of tea and sat at the kitchen table and began to read.

“My Best Day, by Lorrie Walters.” I was surprised to see all the red marks and comments. For example, where Lorrie had referred to her sister, “Mel”, her teacher had crossed out sister and written, “brother.”  Lorrie mentioned how her sister loved to play dress-up, and on her best day, Mel had dressed up like a princess.  Then Lorrie mentioned her baby brother and how the only thing she didn’t like about him was when he messed his diaper.

Red marks were everywhere.  “If Mel is old enough to dress himself, why would you say he soils his diapers? And why does your brother wear a dress?”

“Huh?” I reread what Lorrie wrote and then what her teacher had written.

“You keep referring to your father, Lexington, as ‘mom’. What? Is your father one of those men who like to dress up like women? Are you confused about which parent is your mother and which is your father?”

I heard the back door bang as Lex stomped into the mud room.  She called for me and no sooner had she taken her boots off than she stomped into the kitchen, fit to be tied.  Apparently, Lorrie had caught her up on the events of the day.

“Sit.” I got her seated at the table and poured a large glass of iced tea for her.  I showed her the composition, and then she read the teacher’s note.

“Mr. and Mrs. Walter?” Lex shook her head in disbelief and read the remainder of the note.  “Needs counseling regarding gender identification.”  She continued to read. “Imagines she has a horse but won’t give its name. Keeps saying ‘Mine’.” Lex read further. “Needs encouragement to pursue a normal life because she wants to run a ranch when she is grown.”

“Martha is on her way, honey.” I grabbed my purse and Lex went back to the mud room to put her boots back on. Then I handed her the package I’d assembled for her.  “Deeds to our properties. Family pictures. Cattle counts.”

I didn’t know who to feel sorrier for. Although Lorrie was disappointed with her grade, her teacher was going to feel a lot worse once we got done with her. I opened my cell phone and punched in the number that the teacher had written on the note.  “Mrs. Carlson? This is Lorrie’s mom, Amanda.  Lex and I are on our way into town and should be at the school in twenty minutes. Good. Well we’ll see you then. Thanks.”

Lex took one more look at the composition as we climbed into her truck and sighed.  “She corrected Lorrie’s name? Good grief!”