No, not with childcare; I have that under control. When Mrs. Churm left Sunday for the NAFSA conference in the Twin Cities, which will last a week, I blew my bosun’s whistle to call my two little boys away from the window, where they were sadly waving goodbye to their mother. They fell in. I blew it again, and they snapped to attention.
“Rule One!” I said.
“Daddy’s number-one job is to keep us safe!” Starbuck shouted.
His little brother, Wolfie, said, “Bye,” and started biting my cell phone.
“Rule Two!” I said.
“Daddies always win,” Starbuck shouted.
“Mine!” Wolfie said.
“That’s fine,” I said. “We’ll get along just fine. Dismissed, boys.” Then I went to the kitchen to fix their lunch and dropped a heavy plate on the counter. It broke and fell to the floor, and I felt something hit my calf. When I looked down I could see white subcutaneous fat glistening in the open mouth of the cut. I’m well-marbled, I thought. Then I got the kids into their car seats and drove to get my stitches.
As the week went on, my rules changed a bit. Now the order of the day is (1) You may eschew vegetables except marinara, and (2) A new box of Lucky Charms can be opened if and only if all the marshmallows have been harvested from the old box, and there is less than 20% by volume of the boring cereal left. So you see? I’m in control.
No, I need your help in another matter. On Saturday I leave for Louisville, Kentucky. The people over at Educational Testing Service, the company that administers the SAT, the GRE, and so on, have shown their wisdom by paying me, along with 1,000 other people, a bunch of money to grade essays written for the English Lit test. I’ll be there a week, and I need something real, something interesting and human and quirky, to do on my nights off. I don’t need guidebook stuff. I’m talking about the unlicensed pork sandwich vendor, who has a pushcart in the shadow of the bridge and his great-grandma’s sauce recipe, or the blues band in some roadhouse on a dark state highway outside town.
And maybe it shouldn’t be anything too strenuous. The stitches pull in my leg. Please leave your ideas here, or e-mail me, at OChurm@aol.com.