My cellphone lit up. It was Beautiful Wife calling. I hesitated to pick it up.
Last week when I answered it the water was the problem, as in there was no water. That’s bad news on a good day and, apparently, this was not a good day.
“The pump started running and it just kept going and going,” BW had explained.
Turns out, when they built homes like our 30 years ago on one-acre lots, they put the pump in the house, under the front step, in the basement. We’d become used to it, scarcely hearing it fire up every time someone had a shower or used the flush.
But when it runs and runs, well, that’s not the kind of sound your brain edits out.
COVID-19 to the rescue. BW was online teaching a class because, you know, COVID-19, and happened to mention the pump during a break.
“My dad’s a plumber, just a sec,” chirped a helpful student living in another province.
“No, no, no, never mi…” Too late. Helpful Guy was back within seconds.
“My dad says just take a hammer and tap the pump. It’s probably just stuck.”
Sure enough. A light tap and the pump went quiet. For a couple of hours, then off it went again.
The plumber – the one who crawled around in our basement, not the online student’s dad – had bad news. He broke it indirectly.
“Didn’t know they made pumps like that one anymore.”
A few thousand dollars and a chunk of the torn up lawn later, the pump was replaced, moved outside, and buried in the front lawn. Not sure what that chunk of pipe sticking out of the ground does, but I’ve seen it in other neighbour’s lawns, so I guess it’s OK.
I answered the phone.
“I just called to tell you that you were right.”
I sat down. Then I stared at the caller ID. Home.
“I just called to tell you that you were right,” BW repeated. I knew I should have downloaded that record-your-conversations app on my phone.
“Handsome Son’s new running shoes just arrived and I took them out for a spin. I just ran five kilometres in 18 minutes and five seconds,” she said, deadpan.
I checked my watch. Too early in the day for a tall glass of red wine, so that couldn’t be the explanation for her claiming to run a time few can match. Then I got it and laughed.
The new shoes were a pair of those Nike something-or-others that every runner with enough talent and ambition to be fast wants. There are pink ones. And green ones. And the new black and white ones I’d managed to find online for HS.
“Guaranteed to last longer. You can use them for training, not just racing,” the ad had promised.
“Well, for $545.93 I should hope so,” I thought.
No. That is not a typo.
But when your son runs his first marathon in a shockingly fast two hours and 49 minutes, and six of the eight people ahead of him are wearing pink or green … well, fathers can be as dumb as anyone else.
Besides, I want to see the look on his face when he comes home for Christmas from university in Ontario and…
There it is. His plan was to come home Dec. 19 – by car with his girlfriend (BW really likes this one) – and stay a week. But now…
And Beautiful Daughter’s husband is an essential worker due back from a three-week stint in the Arctic on Dec. 16. They and the four grandchildren will have to isolate for 14 days so…
This Christmas could be a difficult one. And I may have to mail the shoes to Handsome Son, then watch him open them via Facetime.
I’m very ready for this COVID-19 outbreak to be over.
Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottetown.