Tuesday, April 12, 2005

roof goof

I normally try to avoid bringing my kids to McDonalds when I possibly can. It has nothing to do with being afraid they will become obese, nothing to do with my being afraid I will become obese, nothing to do with culinary snobbery. The reason I hate taking them is that social stereotype known as “The McDonalds Dad”, i.e. the guy whose wife left him and who, being male and obviously unable to master a stove, pretends to treat his children with fast food when in fact he is really covering up his own inabilities. I’m actually quite nifty in the kitchen but that’s not easy to prove when you’re sitting on a plastic bench wishing you’d remembered to ask for curry sauce to go with your son’s McNuggets.

On this particular day, however, I chose to give in to their pleading, and have a side order of pride to swallow along with my Big Mac Meal. I had them for an afternoon, of which there was an hour left to kill before the ex got home from work and I could drop them off and go on to my computer course, in which I had my final exam that very evening.

It seemed like the perfect plan. Get them a couple of Happy Meals and bring my notes in with me to get an extra bit of study done into the bargain. Ok, maybe I didn’t actually think I would get revision done in a burger place, but I still took the folder in with me just in case.

For the life of me I will never understand sibling fights, and why should I indeed, since I never had any. Even though I appreciate this, it still brings me to boiling point when I hear my two arguing over absolutely nothing. I thought my President rule would have taken care of that for good. Basically how that works is they take turns being “President” and any time a call could go either way, e.g. a choice of slices of cake, who gets to play with a toy first, who doesn’t have to do a chore, etc, etc, the President would always get to decide.

And so two of my well-thought-out plans were thwarted in one go at McDonalds that afternoon. My two offspring had cleverly found a way to argue over which one of them was actually President as I tried to ignore them by staring blankly at my notes. As their voices got louder in an attempt to draw me into their spat, my blood pressure got higher. With that I slammed my folder shut and told them we were leaving with half of our food untouched. One of them came with me to the door, the other stayed at the table refusing to move. Now what had been a screaming match isolated at our table had turned into one that was being carried out across the length of the restaurant.

I told my son to wait at the door as I marched over to the table to give my daughter that “Don’t mess with me” look that I’m sure I will only be able to use one more time in the future without having to act on it. She jumped up and accompanied the two of us to the car, and of course they could not help making little snide accusations to each other on the way.

I was dying to give them my “Behaviour In Public” speech in the car, but since I was all fingers and thumbs trying to get my car keys out of my pocket, I had to start ranting early. Pontificating is one of my strong points, and once inside the car I could even raise my voice into the bargain. In a way I was glad the episode had happened, since I could legitimately vow never to bring them to a fast food joint again. It was handing down this particular punishment that finally managed to unite the warring factions and cease hostilities.

And so we proceeded toward my ex’s house where I was to drop them off. On the way we had to drive through The Red Cow Roundabout, which is a notorious intersection outside Dublin between a busy highway and an even busier motorway. Apparently I had made it all the way to this point without so much as stopping, for when I finally did so at the traffic lights before the roundabout, I noticed some moron had sent a bunch of papers flying all over the road. They were everywhere, and they were blowing all around in front of my car. I also noticed a dark thing bouncing around on the ground with even more papers streaming out of it. The light stayed red long enough for me to realise it was my folder, which I had left on the roof of the car as I was fumbling for my keys.

When the lights go green at the Red Cow Roundabout, you have to go. It’s just like a lot of bridges in America where you’re not supposed to slow down, let alone stop. Let’s just say my kids learned a few new choice words from their Daddy as he drove clean around the roundabout back where he came from so he could find somewhere to park and consider his options!!!

By the time I pulled over, I was already feeling bad for blaming my kids for the whole thing. They were sobbing and apologizing over and over in the back seat. I told them it wasn’t their fault, but that I would have to try to somehow recover what pages I could, since I had an exam that night. They waited patiently in the car while I took advantage of a lull in traffic to make it to the grassy verge between lanes on the N7 and rescue a dozen pages plus the folder and one unharmed floppy disk. The two particular pages I really, really needed for that night were among the dozen. This served as little consolation since I also remembered that had I simply utilized the zipper on the folder when I slammed it, this task would have been much, much easier.

By the time I dropped them off, I thought about the whole McDonalds dad scenario and realized I had just taken it to the next level. All I could do was make a big joke about it and tell the ex the whole story myself rather than let the kids do it when I had gone. I had to shut the image of her, my kids, and her boyfriend all sitting around their dinner table having a good laugh at my expense out of my head. It wasn’t easy, but I somehow managed to ace the exam in the end. Unfortunately the episode will go down in family folklore for longer than the test score will. It was a shitty course anyway.

I was to use the “Don’t mess with me” look one more time that evening, when the person sitting beside me at the exam asked: “Are those tire marks on your folder?”

Click here for a full list of the "Lifeslice" stories


shandi said...

This is a good!!! I have committed the "roof goof" myself on ocassion.

I have a habit of keeping fast food hot sauce packages in my purse (saving 'em for later). I got a call from the police station who recovered my lost purse after running it over in their squad car. They were able to track me down after sorting through my hot sauce flavored identification. (Yeah, they tasted it...curious I guess.)

Buffalo said...

One of your best offerings. Very well told.

My child, of course, never acted up in public. I've never left my reading glasses or books on top of the car.

Buffalo, thy name is perfection.

jollybeggar said...

'ah, mcdonald's dad- pleased to meet you! my name? barBQ dad.'

kieran said...

Oh, how that story brings back memories! While you may be "McDonald's Dad" I could have easily be stereotyped as "Annoying McDonald's Child" back in my day.

And in America, where everyone and their mom goes to Micky-D's, that's saying something (I use to be chubby-chub.)

BTW: what is curry sauce and why are your kids dipping their chicken nuggets in it? I tend to be a spicey mustard man myself, but I've never heard of this curry sauce.

Mr. Middle America said...

"The light stayed red long enough for me to realise it was my folder, which I had left on the roof of the car as I was fumbling for my keys."

Dude, *shakes head* that had to have been a bitter pill to swallow, seeing your stuff out there...

"I had to shut the image of her, my kids, and her boyfriend all sitting around their dinner table having a good laugh at my expense out of my head."

Okay, I know you pulled some moral awakenings from this... but I am pulling a big laugh!!!


“Are those tire marks on your folder?”

Ohhhhh.... hehehehe

And, I was thinking this kind of stuff only happened to Barfield's!

JL Pagano said...

Naturally I laugh at this now, because it was indeed very funny.

I didn't really draw any moral conclusions from the whole thing; I rather used it as a stick to beat myself with, when I should have known that it was a kind of thing that happens to everyone, as the various comments have shown.

Thank you all as always for your comments. I finally worked out how to post links on my blog WOOHOO!!!

Mr. Middle America said...

I put one to your site on my side bar as well! I finally figured out to mess with the new site design!!

Michèle said...

I feel your pain . . . but I can't help snickering all the same ;-) sorry.

Glad to hear you did well on the exam in spite of it all.

Great story!

fairygirl701 said...

oh man, I was cringing when you said the papers were yours!! Kudos to you for keeping your cool amongst the ex & her boyfriend.