Beautiful Daughter called, finally, hours later than expected. Beautiful Wife was having straw kittens.
“Something might have happened to her. Something must have happened to her,” BW said. “She’s not answering her phone, her house phone or her cellphone.”
Naw, I assured her. She probably was just out with one of her friends. It’s Friday night.
“In northern Saskatchewan? Where’s she going to go?”
It was Handsome Son’s birthday and he had done two things to mark the occasion. He’d shaved his beard, making his mother a very happy woman, and he’d come home with The Girlfriend for the weekend.
The plan was to Skype his big sister so she could watch him open his presents. BD is fussy about such things.
“It’s a family tradition,” she said. Like Christmas. The socks full of goodies - yes, they still expect socks from Santa – must be in the same place each year. His on the small couch near the window. Hers on the chair next to the tree.
Presents used to be easy. A new basketball and a big bag of candy for Handsome Son. The latest Harry Potter movie for Beautiful Daughter. Now presents are complicated.
“He needs a slow cooker,” BW said.
A slow cooker? He needs to find a new girlfriend who doesn’t try to cook everything with the heat on high? That earned a withering look.
“A slow cooker. A pot with a cover on it you plug in, fill with food, and let it simmer all day.”
What’s wrong with a can opener and a spoon, I wondered to myself, avoiding Withering Look Two.
We shopped for a slow cooker. They were everywhere, on sale. I wanted to buy the first one we saw. It was 30 or 40 bucks, and round, and it had a cover. That earned Withering Look Two.
Two days later we bought a slow cooker. It was 30 or 40 bucks, it had a cover, and it was oval. Which made all the difference.
“Chickens aren’t round,” snorted Beautiful Wife.
I had never thought of that.
“And he needs a microwave.”
I looked longingly at the aisle full of basketballs.
There’s a microwave in the kitchen, I suggested. I couldn’t recall the last time it had been used for anything except a home for sunglasses, pieces of paper covered with telephone numbers, and pens that always run out of ink the moment the phone rings.
“There’s one just like ours,” BW said. “And it’s black and chrome.”
Apparently black-and-chrome is the new black.
“And it’s bigger than ours.”
Bigger is also the new black.
When the kids were young, they spent more time playing with the boxes than the presents that came in them. The black and chrome microwave came in a big box, maybe HS and The Girlfriend could play in it after he opened it. No. Forget I said that.
Just one thing remained. Beautiful Daughter was to call a bit after her classes ended, 7 p.m. our time, so she could watch HS open his presents and blow out the candles – all 22 of them.
She didn’t call.
Not at 7 p.m.
Not at 8 p.m.
Or 9. Or 10.
“Something must have happened to her,” BW said, every hour.
“She’s fine,” I replied. “Fine. She’s fine.”
Finally, she called, at 11. She wasn’t happy. It was a long story. It involved a forgotten wallet, a forgotten credit card, a tire that needed replacing, and a kind man who gave her the tire and trusted her to bring the money later.
And HS opened his presents. The Girlfriend’s last. One was a big bag of candy. The other was a basketball.
Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.