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.