2006.07.19 Tuesday night torture

Written by David Green.

I worked in the office, I took photos at a BMX race, I mowed the lawn, I attended a post-wedding hoo-hah in Grosse Ile as a total stranger, I ate ice cream, I watched a movie—I did all sorts of things this weekend, but I didn’t write a By the Way column. So here’s one from a hot July day 20 years ago.


By DAVID GREEN

This column has to be written on Sunday afternoon. Why? It’s just a tradition spanning several decades. I think my mother made my father bring his home before press time so she could serve as censor. Fortunately, I haven’t gotten into trouble yet with my wife for her to make similar pre-publication demands.

More importantly, if this doesn’t get written on Sunday, it has to be done Monday night when there are much more important things to be doing down here, such as writing the news.

But here I sit Monday night already feeling trepidation of what will come tomorrow night. Tuesday evening at our house is known as Torture Daddy Night (TDN). It’s the night after I stayed up late working on the paper and the night before getting up early to take the papers to the post office. What a life.

Colleen and Ben—and now Rosanna—are becoming perfecters of TDN.

I read a book to Ben and begin to doze off halfway through, maybe somewhere around number 230 of Bartholomew’s 500 hats. Ben won’t allow me to continue sleeping nor does he gently nudge me awake.

Instead it’s a slug to the chest along with a verbal attack. “Dad! Dad! Wake up!”

9:30 p.m.—things are quieting down, but Colleen decides that she really should go shopping for a few things.

10:05 p.m.—The fateful discovery of a basket of wet clothes is made. They were quickly brought in from the line earlier when rain threatened. (On some Tuesdays, someone will remember clothes are still hanging from the line and must be brought in, maybe to protect from bats, I don’t know. This generally happens after 10:30 p.m.

10:32 p.m.—Rosanna performs an act common to babies that requires the attention of an adult.

10:42 p.m.—Colleen’s co-conspirators join in TDN and phone calls begin to arrive.

10:51 p.m.—Ben is becoming demanding. It’s either another book or else we build a tunnel for rats with Legos.

11:01 p.m.—The phone rates are down. Let’s call Minnesota.

The details are different every week, but overall it’s the same general pattern Tuesday after Tuesday. Sometimes something really unusual breaks the tedium. The best one yet happened last week.

It must have been about 2:30 in the morning when Colleen dragged me out of the dream state to ask me this question: “Why in the world is the furnace on?”

I just rolled around making strange noises while she went downstairs to move the thermostat down from 80°. The answer to her question was simple enough: Ben.

The heating season started early for us this year, just a few hours before the long heat wave moved in.

   - July 19, 2006

 

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