At a family reunion out of state, DJ’s service dog alerted to an ear infection. Since DJ gets ear infections like a frat boy in a dare, Duke got a lot of practice honing his skill. Duke is gone over the rainbow bridge now but his perfect legacy of diagnosing ear infections lives on. However, Duke was a bit quirky. He tossed condescending looks better than any human. He was all business in his service dog role but every once in awhile he did something nutty.
My husband Steve has a freakish ability to find his way around any town. Even using old school paper maps he rarely got lost. But when he is lost – he is REALLY lost. And he does not cope with it well. Suddenly, the boys and I are not funny. We dispute this. Some of our best zingers are triggered by Steve’s directionally challenged road rage. Along with finding us humorless, he suspends our free speech right. Saying things like; let’s ask for directions, I’m thirsty, I need to pee or haven’t we passed that Taco Bell three times now, is not well received.
We were hunting the pharmacy where DJ’s pediatrician called in a prescription. A pharmacy, Steve insisted was nearby despite no evidence. About the third time around Taco Bell, I saw an elderly man shirtless and wearing sweat pants. It was 100 degrees. He sat on the curb at a very busy intersection. Steve was too busy ranting about the poor signage in the entire state of Tennessee to see the man.
“Turn around I think that man needs help.” It’s the only time a look made me flinch.
Soft giggles erupted from the boys. “Mom. I’m scared for you.” Colton belied his words by laughing.
Steve is too compassionate to ignore someone in need. But that didn’t stop him muttering about the help I was going to need if the man was fine. He pulled off a perilous u-turn. Giggling whispers drifted from the back as the boys wagered what would happen next.
As a former EMT, I exited the passenger side and assessed the situation. It took seconds to determine the man was in a medical crisis. I went back to the van and told Steve to dial 911.
I love my husband but he turned organizational skills into an art form. He makes a four-page list to boil pasta. Still, his request for me to give him a moment to form a plan took me by surprise. I cocked my head. “You need a plan to dial 911? Push 9 1 1 on the phone. That’s the plan.” At least the boys found my sarcastic slow talk funny.
“I’d to love to call 911 but I have no idea where I am.”
“Maybe 911 can help you find yourself.” Pause. “And the pharmacy.” Nope. I still wasn’t funny.
It’s reasonable to assume, at this point the crazy comments are depleted. Nope. When he made contact with 911 he asked her to repeat her question. She did. He looked at me nonplussed. “She wants to know whose side I’m on.” Before I formulated a response he uttered an uncertain answer. “The victim’s?”
That sent the boys into howling laughter.
“No. Whose side of the state line are you on?”
“I don’t know. What are my choices?”
Dalton laughed so hard he fell over. “The victim’s,” he uttered lost in tear-inducing laughter.
Colton intermingled his words with laughter. “Dad’s going to be on one of those World’s Dumbest shows.”
“And the shame of it will send us into witness protection. Or wherever they send people who think 911 picks a side.”
Somehow EMS found us. Back in the van Steve craned his neck all around. “There’s no state line sign. What state is she talking about?” He coated his words in heavy self-righteous indignation.
Colton got so involved in the comedy he forgot the “Dad is lost rules” and asked to stop for a drink. Request denied. “Dad. I’m a kid with Aspergers in need of a drink.” Rejected. From that moment on every time we passed a store Colton pressed his face against the window, clawing at it with animalistic tendencies and dramatically moaned “water.”
The elusive pharmacy was closer to Steve’s parents than us. About the time we discovered they could get the prescription an explosion of stink filled the air. Dalton traced the source and screamed, “Duke pooped!” Instead of letting us know he needed out, he unloaded in the car. Pandemonium erupted. The boys yelled and covered their noses, DJ started clapping, (who knows what that was about) Duke barked, Steve swore off the pharmacy chain for life, and I laughed until it hurt.
Steve whipped our van into a church parking lot and we all rolled out. “Look!” Dalton pointed to the church sign. It read, “This is a sign from God.” That was the proverbial straw. Steve erupted into choice words but never completed a sentence.
Finally, back at the cabin, Colton, still in an uproar over not getting a drink, burst out of the van. He leveled all sorts of Asperger-ish threats. He planned to sue Steve for child abuse because he was dehydrated. In the middle of Colton’s tirade, Steve noticed the cooler we thought we left at the reunion. Colton was using it as a headrest. It was filled with water bottles. Steve snatched one up. “Colton! The whole time you aggravated me for a drink you were laying on a cooler full of them!”
Colton shrugged and looked at me. “Well, now we know why God gave us a sign of crap. Dad’s gonna beat it out of me.”