The Neon Flamingo Light of Grace

I was a crank last night.

All day, in fact. I woke up cranky, achey and headachey, and in spite of all the ibuprofen I went through like butter mints, I didn’t get any better.

It was a bad day to be that way. I needed to get a lot of stuff done. And Angi was to host her bunco group at our house in the evening.

So I dutifully fetched the kids after school and whisked them off to the pizza buffet for dinner, with a brief stop at the Game Exchange which my 9-year-old daughter Laura did not want to visit but my 13-year-old son Matthew did. She didn’t want to go see a movie, either; though there were a couple playing that would have been good bets.

The pizza was not at its best, and the kids quarreled non-stop. At the claw machine, Laura squandered the seven dollars she had earned helping stuff church bulletins. I did not stop her. I took her to Party City instead, where there were many attractive things that money could have bought. Then we went to Toys R Us, where there were more. And thence to Garden Ridge, where there were still more. Then to Target. I didn’t lecture. But I didn’t advance money, either. I was teaching conservatism, thrift. And by the time we needed to return home, I wasn’t the only cranky one.

Matthew had checked out in secret at Garden Ridge with a couple of treasures he found on the clearance tables. I didn’t pry. He had bought an “American Army” video game earlier in the week, against my wishes, but had been good enough to ask my opinion first. I thanked him for that, and told him I would draw the line at games rated “M” that his friends’ parents permitted, but games rated “T” he could buy at his discretion. He is a teenager now. He doesn’t always choose wisely, or as I would choose for him – but he has to learn to choose.

So I was surprised – pleasantly – that he chose to give one of his two new purchases to his disappointed little sister in the car on the way home; in fact he had bought it for her because he thought she would like it. It was a $3 battery-powered, neon flamingo lamp, marked down from $10. He had bought himself one that was an 8-ball – he has become quite the billiards fiend. But, as he explained later – showing me the package – most of the other lamps available were things like martini glasses and signs that said “BAR.” He knew I wouldn’t approve, and he didn’t want any of them.

Then I got home and, unilluminated by the neon light of grace I had just seen, acted even more like a complete idiot.

I went to replace the batteries in my 17-year-old programmable master remote control ($99 from Radio Shack back then – insert appropriate Tim Allen noises here) and discovered that it had, for the first time, lost all of the programmed settings when I removed the old batteries. So I slumped into an easy chair and grumpily began re-setting all of them from the individual remotes, grousing and fidgeting about all my tired aches and pizza-inflated gut.

I did not help my sweet wife clean up after her bunco party.

Usually, I am pretty good about doing things like that – I had helped dust and vacuum before it – but, even though she had thanked me for taking care of the children, I did not offer to help clean up last night. I just sat and programmed. She even offered me one of her world-famous homemade dinner rolls, hot and fresh out of the oven, and I let it grow room-temperature cold while I programmed.

Angi doesn’t nag. It’s not in her nature. She gently dropped a hint or two, and I picked up on them: “Well, I finally got everything tidied up.” “Oh … your roll is getting cold.” But I did nothing. Except eat the roll. I’m not stupid; I just act stupidly.

I didn’t sleep very well last night. I didn’t deserve to. Because I missed most of that good sleep by trying to justify my ignorant behavior, which no amount of crankiness or achiness can excuse.

What I should have done this morning is to apologize. (In fact, there needs to be a Hallmark card for situations like this; one that says on the outside “You have a perfect ass,” and when you open it on the inside it reads “Me.”)

By the time I can give Angi the flowers and the apology she deserves face-to-face this evening, she will probably have forgotten my boorish behavior altogether. She’s like that. She understands grace; she even embodies it.

And she doesn’t even need a neon flamingo light to remind her.

9 thoughts on “The Neon Flamingo Light of Grace

  1. We have never met, however, I would like to welcome you to the “I’M A BIG FAT JERK” Club.I have been an active “JERK card holder since June 20, 1992. Going on 14 years and my wife still loves me. Amazing… I am not alone.peace.

  2. In MY family, the one in desperate need of the “neon flamingo light of grace” is me, in all honesty.I cannot fault my husband – who you all know is my beloved Tom – for even once in the 27 years I’ve known him, worked with him, been friends with him, then much more now after nearly 15 years (as of March 2) of marriage, of ever giving me thought or reason to complain because he acted in anything less than a totally and completely loving manner toward me.I, on the other hand, have acted very badly at times. which I would LIKE to think were in times when I was not in my right mind. However, being totally truthful and honest with myself, I cannot say that. God is So good isn’t he, Keith, to give us the blessings He has, beginning with our Saintly spouses. I thank God every second of every minute of every day of my life with him since I first met him 27 years ago in a time and place that now seems so far away from here, when it is, physically on this planet, just “up the road.”We’ve traveled a long way since that time and place, but I still need the “neon flamingo light of grace” to shine brightly upon me, I must confess.Thanks for the reminder of how good we’ve really got it. You always have such wonderful observations and insights.(P. S. Did you REALLY put that “one cuppers'”thingy on your telephone answer machine way back when?! Keith – you are too much, I’m telling ya’)

  3. Hey – to set the record straight – my phone message had NOTHING to do with one-cuppers. Just about sects by phone. Jewish sects of the first century. Nothing more.Robert Walls, by the way, has retired as an elder – though, as far as I’m concerned, he has retired only from bearing the title.And Dee is referring to my comment < HREF="" REL="nofollow">here<>.

  4. I’m sorry, Keith. I stand corrected. That was < HREF="" REL="nofollow">TCS<> who brought in the one cuppers phone sects idea. hee, hee!)By the way – did you happen to see what I did to him this afternoon over on my blog (under “The Lighter Side . . .” post)? I just couldn’t resist because he (you, too) are always causing trouble in cofC land. Let me tell you – seriously here – he is something very special in our books after this past weekend. We are just blown away by he and his friends’ acts of kindness toward us in what was truly agape love they showed us.I’m glad we can have fun together while talking about important ideas that so need to be talked about.Thanks for your part in this. (By the way – what’s your phone number? We might need to check out your current answer machine message, hunh?!)

  5. You have to make that card, and market it to every husband, fiancee, and boyfriend in the world. Thats the hardest I’ve laughed in a while. I totally had a grumpy day the other day too. It ended up being just a cruddy day. You know whats funny is i don’t think i’ve ever woken up grumpy and had a good day, hmmm. . . i wonder why?

  6. Been there, done that…….most of the time DAILY! Thanks for the reminder of what a buffoon I am most of the time. You’re a good man, just not perfect.DU P.S. Listened to the tape yet? 🙂

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