Thursday, March 26, 2009
Patrick's Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
It was a horrible, terrible, no good very bad days for Patrick Paul of 24 Spruce Street. He woke up late for school. His pillow had somehow ended up on the floor during the night. His alarm clock went with it. Of course the battery fell out and well, you understand. In his rush to get up he stubbed his toe against the dresser. The throbbing pain temporally paralyzed the part of his brain that regulates speech. Without that safeguard, the restraints on his tongue gave way. Patrick let loose a string of words commonly heard only in seedy nightclubs, construction sites, army barracks and the halls of a middle school. His bedroom door swung open as he hopped on one foot while holding the the other in what looked like some kind of Indian war dance. His mother stood in the doorway with that look mothers give before unleashing Armageddon on you. Patrick was grounded for life - for the second time that month.
During breakfast Baby Pete knocked his cereal bowl off his highchair tray. The bowl and its contents of milk and cheerios rained down on Patrick’s unzipped backpack. Patrick had his mother sign a failing notice in Spanish and had forgotten to re zip the bag after stuffing the note into some easily forgotten inner pocket. Patrick jumped from his chair, grabbed the back pack and quickly took out the dripping contents and placed them on the table. His math and history books were soggy with a mixture of milk and partially dissolved sugar. His notebooks were in worse condition. Patrick couldn’t control the flood of anger. He put his nose up against Pete’s and used another string of words spoken between clenched teeth. The words were accompanied with a nasty pinch to the thigh. Pete let out a shrill scream. The scream, following by buckets of tears, brought mother into the room. Patrick’s mother picked up the phone to call Patrick's father who had left for work one hour earlier. Patrick realized the consequences of a phone call to his dad and pleaded with his mother to hang up while pulling on her apron. She didn’t. After explaining the situation she handed the phone to Patrick. The conversation with his dad lasted five seconds.
“You and I will discuss this when I get home,” his dad said. Patrick felt tears forming in the corners of his eyes but held them back. He was too old to cry. He ran out of the room before the crack in his male ego became visible.
At school Patrick's day didn't get any better. He got an F in spelling. His math teacher called on him to work out a problem on the board. He guessed. His classmates roared with laughter. On his way back to his seat his teacher, Mrs. Scown suggested he turn off his video games and study. Susan Pew, the teacher’s pet, grinned with delight at his misfortune. She mouthed the word “Stupid” as he walked by her desk. Patrick responded by accidentally pushing her book and papers onto the floor. The class broke into laughter again. Susan cried. Patrick spent the next hour in detention. He wondered how the day could get worse.
Because of detention he was late to lunch. The pizza was gone. He was left with a grilled cheese sandwich, green beans and canned pears on a paper plate. He hated cheddar cheese. He threw the whole plate into the trash. The lunchroom manager saw and reported him to the assistant principal. He spent the next fifteen minutes wiping down tables. On his last table he used spit as an extra ingredient on the washcloth. His luck held out. He was seen by the lunch lady running the cash register. He spent another hour in detention.
Luckily he was given early release for good behavior so he could go to PE - his last period class. They were playing football. Patrick was quarterback for his team. He got dressed into his PE uniform and ran out into the gym. Everyone was standing in lines. He got into place. Out from the coach’s door came the coach with woman in a track suit.
“Boys,” the coach said in his loud teaching voice. “This is Mrs. Burgess. She is an aerobics teacher at the Rec. Center and our guest for the day. You’ll do what she says.”
The coach disappeared into his office. Patrick was sure he saw a smile on his face as he closed his window blinds.
The walk home was sobering for Patrick. How could someone have such a bad day? He didn’t understand what he had done to deserve it. He knew he still had his dad’s lecture and another grounding waiting for him but that was expected. Patrick could handle the expected. It was the unexpected that really got to him. He was done with the unexpected, or so he thought.
As he turned the corner onto Spruce Street he saw a pink Cadillac in his driveway.
“No, please God no,” he mumbled to himself. The Fates were not finished with Patrick Paul. From the four corners of the Earth they gathered to discuss the crowning event to top of Patrick’s Day. They sent his Great Aunt Petunia, Cloverdale’s top Mary Kay Cosmetic saleswoman, to torment him.
Patrick stopped dead in his tracks. He looked into the sky and cursed the universal forces that were conspiring against him. He was tempted to turn and escape into the park but knew his mother would be watching the clock. If he wasn’t home on time she would freak out. There would be another call to his dad.
No, he had no choice. He had to suck it up and go home.
He walked slowly into the house. He knew she was there by the nauseating smell of her perfume.
“Is that Patrick,” he heard her scream from the living room. He dropped his back pack and waited. She rounded the corner. Her eyes met his. She moved for him like a cat to a mouse. Her arms spread wide for the embrace. He took in a deep breath knowing it was about to be forced out of him. Her arms wrapped around him gave him one of her powerful hugs. Patrick’s ribs strained to keep his chest in shape. His lungs, depleted of air, strained to refill. A moment later Patrick was release from the python's grasp. He survived the hug. The worst was still to come. Great Aunt Petunia took him by the arm and led him into the living room. She sat down in the recliner and pulled him down onto her lap.
The embarrassment of being a middle school student and sitting on any relative's lap was bad but sitting on Petunia’s lap was worse. Great Aunt Petunia had the world’s worst breath! Her breath smelled of a mixture of dirty socks, cheddar cheese, liver, garlic and vomit. You couldn’t escape. Her face was right next to yours. You had to breath it without making a face. If you attempted an escape she held you tighter. All you could do was gather all your forces of concentration and use them to prevent passing out.
Several minutes later Petunia released Patrick with a slobbery kiss on the cheek. He staggered to the stairway. Pulled himself up the stairs and into the bathroom. His gagging reflex emptied his stomach; afterwards he collapsed into his bed, took off one of his white socks, and waved it over his head thereby officially surrendering to the universal powers that had decreed his suffering. A few minutes later Patrick was asleep.