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A Text Is Worth A Thousand Words

I need a break every now and then and on Buddy’s day off when he’s looking after the boys, I take my PC and go down to the brew pub or McD’s and work on my novel for a couple of hours just to get away. Fat chance.

My phone rings: “Bueller.....Bueller.....Bueller....Anyone?” Tio’s ringtone. MSG: “That f@$%#& brother of mine is driving me up the friggin wall. Can I have you’re permission to punch him out in 20 years?”

I hate texting. It’s not the writing, I do that all day, it’s manipulating that stupid little device that I hate. I don’t get why so many people are addicted to their phones - but that’s for a different day. I thumb my way through a response: “In 20 years you won’t want to. You’ll be good friends.”

Bueller.....Bueller.....Bueller....Anyone? MSG: “LOL not a chance.”

He’s wrong of course. Tio and Kit care deeply for each other but they have a lot of crap to work through before they realize that. So I set it aside and return to my adventures with Toby and Greta, the main characters in my book. Natalie calls from the bar if I want another beer. I order some fries, too. Ahhh. Quiet. Even with the big TV overhead, classic rock on the juke and people talking and laughing at other tables, that’s noise that doesn’t distract. I look up every so often to watch people interact, perfectly at ease being by myself. Let’s see...Toby needs to decide how he’s going to handle the bandits in the dahmer camp or if he’ll –

“Reet Reet Reet REET!” goes my phone. It’s the shower scene from Psycho, Buddy’s ring. MSG: “Hey Dad, Doc won’t go to bed. LOL Throwing a serious fit. Wat shuld I do? Buddy.” Christallmighty, thinks I. Do I have to go through this every time? “Tie him down. Tell he has no chooce. Act like yo’re the bss.” I type badly.

Click. Where was I? A sip, the fries come. Let’s see...Toby has to deal with a new threat from the –

“Reet Reet Reet REET!” Flip: “He keeps gettin up and won’t stay in his room. LOL” Buddy loves LOL. He’ll say ‘got pulled over for speeding LOL’ ‘Can’t find my ass with both hands LOL’ I don’t get it.

Anyway, I don’t answer this one. I put the phone on the table and watch a couple that look like their on a first date. They both sit straight, the man’s arms crossed, the woman shifting the cutlery. On second thought, they’ve probably been married for fifteen years.

“IT’S GETTING TO THE POINT THAT I’M NO FUN ANYMORE,” Steven Stills cries out of my phone. You and me both, pal. That’s my calls ringtone. This time Buddy is calling. I talk him off the ledge while Kit wails STOOOOOOPPPPPP IIIIIIIITTTTTTTT in the background to the teasing tones of Doc’s voice. I tell Buddy he’s got to show Doc that he must do what Dad says. “How?” Buddy laments.

“I don’t have a particular solution. Each situation is different. I stand them in the corner but if they won’t do it, you have to hold them there.” It’s a tough conundrum. I remember having to hold Buddy down in bed when he was small until he stopped struggling and passed out from sheer exhaustion. We hang up and I go back to my story: Toby’s threat from the Partisan soldiers. If he capitulates, he may have to –

“HEY, JUDE. DON’T MAKE IT BAD. TAKE A SAD SONG,” my phone sings out. I don’t mind that one, It’s Tish. “Zoom” says her text which means she’s leaving work. I suggest she come down and meet me. We’ll split a club sandwich for supper and get home after Doc and Kit have worked out their rage against the machine.

That’s the routine day by day. You see, when I’m at home, the house is calm and in control. I’ll take credit for that. Whether it’s because they respect me, or fear consequences, or love me, or have learned to cooperate, it doesn’t matter. They know I’m in charge and all runs smoothly with our world. If I’m gone and Tish is there, it’s not as smooth. She gets some grief and they’ll act up as far as they can get away to push her limits. When she goes too leaving Buddy’s as the grownup, look out Tricorn Acres, the roof is about to come off. All three of them dish out their own favorite recipes for disobedience, disrespect and lawlessness. He tries to deal but their game is fast and hard to keep up with. Thus the texts, exasperation and phone calls for help. He wants the house the way we make it but it’s magic to him how we get it that way. Everyone gets along, there is some respect, the boys do their homework, eat supper and get to bed on time. Not so for poor Buddy. He takes it in the side of the head until his melon is soft. On the days they cooperate and things go well he has no idea why.

So there is no such thing as a day off. Just an hour here or there. I guess that’s okay. We’re going to get there because underneath it all, the boys really do all care for each other and love their dad. They just have a lot of work to do before they can appreciate that.

I better get that.