The Meyers. 2020.
We are not getting another dog.
We are NOT getting another dog.
WE are not getting ANOTHER dog.
WE are sitting in the parking lot of the cargo terminal at JFK. Because, you now, in the middle of a global pandemic, where else would you really go?
I am standing in line behind 9 truck drivers picking up 18 wheeler-full deliveries of cargo. It’s April. There are forklifts, crates, trucks, everywhere. It’s like the last scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark. Everyone is getting used to social distancing. Including, apparently, those seemingly standing here on the set of the Sopranos.
The clerk yells out into the warehouse “HAS ANYBODY SEEN THE DOG?!?!” This doesn’t seem like the signal of precision confidence I was hoping for. I look over at Ben and Christian, the latter of whom is cheerfully wearing a Patriots mask in Queens. 30 minutes later there are two eyes blinking at us through an airline transportation crate. And one thumping tail.
There is a horror movie called “A Quiet Place” about an alien creature that reacts to sound. And if you make the slightest noise, it jumps out of the dark and eats you. It is 5:52AM. The entire family knows the first one to move, or make a sound of any kind, loses. There will be a little white ball of fur pouncing on you in milliseconds. Maybe I can just roll onto my side. Super quiet-like. @!$#^@!! A paw fingernail has reached up over the side of the bed like a devil claw and scrapes down my arm. I just lost this round. Which means everybody else gets to stay snuggly in bed and you have to get up in the dark and cold and go feed the Tasmanian devil. Who, by the way, will not eat unless it is juuuussst riiighhht. Princess. But a cute one.
Griffin just finagled his drivers permit before government agencies shut down. Hmmm. Was that a good idea?
Teaching your children to drive is an odd blend of curiosity, pride and terror. Griffin has a brain that seems to work in lanes. Like we are in the “now we are executing a plan” lane OR we are in the “now we are improvising” lane. But when those two lanes need to intertwine, my number 3 child can produce more, er, surprising meals than most.
“Griffin. GRIffin. GRIFFIN!”
We stop. I pull my fingernails out of my thigh.
“Just help me understand what your plan is right here.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well, the parking lot ends. Where were you thinking of going?”
“Well. I figured the answer would present itself. “
“Perhaps you could more proactively look ahead for the answers.”
“I like the surprise.”
Covid has brought us together in ways that never would have happened. For us parents, that has been pretty magical. It has also opened up dinner topics like this:
Griffin: “Are thighs supposed to be circular or rectangular?”
Christian: “What’s the tip of your nipple called?”
Cooper: “I think I can see through my hand.”
Polly: “Just because she is curious doesn’t mean she is a prostitute.” She was actually talking about the dog. Who was in heat. And making that fact known.
Ben: “You know, I think we would all be smarter if we ate more edamame.” To which Christian responded that he was pretty certain edamame was just a knockoff pea. Which triggered a 20 minute debate about why people now eat edamame but nobody really eats peas and shouldn’t it actually be that peas were knockoff edamame and yes, I stopped caring right about when you did.
We did go to a fishery over the summer to go fishing. The only problem is none of us really like to fish. So we hand Christian the rod who immediately catches a fish and then all hell breaks loose. Christian swings the rod around smacking Griffin right in the middle of his chest with the slimy fish. Griffin screams and flings the fish back at Christian who drops the rod into the pond. We watch the rod depart. With our fish. Cooper grabs the rod just before it swims out of reach and we are back in business. yayyyy. So now we are holding the rod in the water watching the fish swim around in circles. Ben points out, “Somebody is going to have to take the hook out”. We all look down into the pond and quietly contemplate this horror and yes, we probably should have considered actually getting the fish out of the water was part of “fishing”. We do eventually get the hook out and take our one fish up to the counter to this nice young woman who greets us with some amusement and promptly pulls out a club and kills the fish exploding an eyeball onto Griffin’s shoulder. He almost faints. She then cheerfully asks if anybody would like to eat the heart. Griffin reflected in the car that “this was not his preferred activity.”
There is a yell from Cooper’s room. “MOM!! DAD!!“
Cooper is standing on top of his bed. He points to the corner. I don’t see anything. Suddenly something leaps at chest height right onto the bed; Cooper and I both shriek; Cooper jumps on me; we both go crashing through the closet door which slams against the wall and bounces shut.
We are in the dark. On the floor. In the closet. “What. Was. That.”
“I don’t know. That was way bigger than a mouse.” We peek out the closet door. Nothing. Wait. We hear it. Under the bed. “Dad, look under the bed.” “What?! Under your bed is like digging into an Egyptian tomb. You look.”
We stand there. Nothing. And then, lo and behold, it appears. Surprisingly it jumps right up to the top of a picture frame. A flying squirrel.
Polly walks in.
“Oh, he is so cute! He’s scared.”
“He can jump 8 feet through the air straight from that picture frame.”
“WHAT?!?!” Polly seems to vanish into thin air.
Griffin, Cooper, Christian and I spend the next three hours trying to catch the squirrel. In a 10×10 bedroom. The last 17 minutes have really been special.
Griffin had a good idea to just open the window and hopefully it would leave. But I say “well, we should turn off the lights so that it can see the window. But somebody has to see it leave so we know it left.” Silence as we all digest the reality of this suggestion. “Dad, you should do it.” Griffin volunteers to stay with me. Cooper and Christian are gone before we can change our minds.
We turn off the lights. It is a second and a half before Griffin and I know this to be the dumbest idea ever. It’s like a horror movie. We hear it running. Right at us. We both scream.
Ben arrived home the next day! He still seems to be considering whether or not he is really related to us. As a “senior” he implied that “he knows things”. Christian pointed out he didn’t know what the tip of your nipple was called so maybe Colby wasn’t all that great after all.
As I look down the stairs, Polly, queen multi-tasker, is doing squats as she makes white bean chili. The year has not all been flying squirrels and driving lessons, unfortunately. Polly’s father passed away after a long battle with Lewy Body disease and then two months later her brother-in-law David, passed away after a fierce battle with cancer. And in this lonely, Covid time, we are learning along with everybody else how hard it is to celebrate lives of such inspiration and positive impact the way they deserve to be celebrated.
But blessings abound. And we hope they do for you as well. We sure do miss seeing you and hope that this note finds you healthy, happy and ready for ready for a bright 2021.
Polly, Christian, Ben (22), Cooper (19), Griffin (16), Christian (12), Riley dog (6), Maggie dog (1), Earl the squirrel (5 mo).