We spent a lot of time at my father’s house—which is soon to be our house—in Mulletville Lite this weekend. Our friends, Don and Matty, drove down to help us paint. On the way, they dropped off their two kids with their grandparents. I had to ask them, “Are you sure you want to spend a free night without your kids painting?”
Without hesitating they said yes.
Chuck whispered, “Do you see what’s ahead with two kids? Our idea of fun is going to be so watered down we’ll paint just to escape.”
I looked down at my big ass bump.
“It’s a little late for forebodings, dipshit,” I whispered back. We watched them pick their brushes. “Look. They don’t even know they’re not doing something fun. They don’t know it can be better. We’ll forget, too.”
That made him feel a lot better.
While they painted, Junior and I played with matchbox cars my father had saved from when my brother, Ted, was little. My father’s 90% done moving out, but he’s left plenty of "treasures" behind. Like boxes of school papers and old dressers full of clothes and toys.
God I need a drink.
After the smash ’em crash ’em car game, Junior and I looked out the window and watched the neighbor’s daughter, Rebecca, wash her car.
“Mommy used to take the school bus with Becky,” I told Junior. “And right there is where the school bus used to pick us up. In a few years, that’s where you might get the school bus.”
At dinnertime we ordered a pizza. While the happy painters and Chuck took a break, I went to pick it up.
“Mrs. Mullet?” the cashier said.
“Omigawd your face hasn’t changed!”
Omigawd, it was Cheryl Blahblahblah. I’d gone to elementary school with Cheryl 30 years ago. Her face was still shaped like the moon. At my tenth birthday party she’d told our friends that she saw my father pick his nose. I’d hated her for that. Now there she was, in a plaid smock, selling me a pepperoni pizza.
After I left, I sat in my car for a few minutes.
Life suddenly felt like Sweet Home Alabama, minus a hot Southern fiance who wanted to butter my muffin.
Mulletville Lite is rampant with memories. I’m racking my brain trying to decide if that’s a good or a bad thing. I don’t know why I have to decide. I just do. I quiz myself: Would it be better to live somewhere totally new? Or is it preferable to go back to something I know? Does that make me small-minded? Will moving to Mulletville Lite mean my life is a record stuck on the same track of “remembers whens”?
What about adventure? Exploration? The unknown?
“There is none,” Chuck said later that night. We were back home in Mulletville. Everyone was in bed, including Don and Matty, who were spending the night.
“We’re going to have two kids,” Chuck continued. “It’s all about school systems and safe neighborhoods. Reliable cars and snow tires.”
“Snow tires?” I cried. “And you’re down on people who enjoy painting?!”
“It’s just the way it is.”
I refused to believe it. I told him as much. “Life can still be exciting with kids. I bet you one hundred dollars that Don and Matty are boinking their brains out in your man room right now. I bet they’re as wild and crazy as ever!”
“Ew,” Chuck said. “Impossible.”
“One hundred dollars.”
We crept out of bed and snuck down the hallway and then—I know, gross—we put our ears to the door.
Well, except for Chuck snickering his way back to the bedroom.