Friday, January 29, 2010

Close Enough

Close Enough

By Allison Adams 01-22-10, submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 01-23-10

I hate filling out forms. Am I alone?

I hate it so much that I really have to exercise amazing self-restraint in order to keep from moaning, groaning, and throwing myself into a heap on the floor whenever someone passes me a clipboard with a chewed-up pencil tied to a string.

The other day I had to fill out five forms just so my son could get an emergency sports physical. It was an emergency because I’d forgotten he needed one in order to play, and the game was scheduled to start in 67 minutes. I had to fill out five forms because it was a new year and a new office with new files.

“Just fill these out, front and back, sign here and here and here, and initial here and here, and bring them back to me when you’re through.” instructed the receptionist as she passed me the clipboard and its accoutrements.

Awwwwwww. Do I really have to?” I whined.

“We’re updating our files.” she stated.

“But this is all OLD information.” I whimpered.

“But you need to write it on these NEW forms.” she ordered.

“Ohhhh alllll riiiight!” I grumbled as I dragged the clipboard across the floor by the pencil to which it was tied.

Part of the reason I absolutely cannot stand to fill out forms is because I no longer have some of the requested information filed safely in my rememory.

We moms have to store so much data in our brains that at some point we have no other choice but begin to forget things that we feel are no longer pertinent. The older my children get, the more selective my recall becomes.

When I’m prodded to produce previously purged particulars – I often punt.

“This form is asking for your birth-weight. What did you weigh when you were born?”

“I don’t know, mom. I was so busy marveling at my new environment, I neglected to pay attention to the scale when the nurse weighed me.”

“You had a very large head. I’ll put down 12 pounds. I’m no good with numbers. That’s close enough. “

When you have several kids its hard to keep all their significant data straight. This is where I really struggle – significant data. And also some names. Frankly, the older I get, the more one kid and his or her first day of kindergarten rolls right into another.”

“What is your date of birth?”

“Are you kidding me, mom?”

“Oh, I know its December. And its early in the month – I believe it’s the first day.”

“Very good, mother, you’re almost there.”

“And you’re fourteen – so I’ll just do the math …”

“I’m seventeen.”

“Close enough. What was the date of your last tetanus shot?”

“I’m not supposed to remember that stuff, mom – you are!”

“This is critical information – you need to know this in case you step on a rusty nail. Now let me think … I remember it was raining on the day I brought you in for that because I had to park about a mile away and I forgot to bring an umbrella so we were soaked by the time we reached the doctor’s office, and I was wearing pantyhose – February 20, 2002.”


“Close enough.”

I hate filling out forms so much that there have been times when I’ve been very tempted to embellish a bit – just for spite – and to make a mundane exercise a little more interesting. Surely I’m not the only one who thinks that some of the information requested on certain forms is just ridiculous!

Patient’s Mother’s Name: Allison Wonderland Adams

(People have actually called me that, and I have actually answered to it.)

Hobbies: Ice sculpting, mindreading, singer in a rock & roll band.

(Seriously – who’s going to check this?)

Sometimes I purposefully put my checkmark outside of the box. Sometimes I autograph the form instead of simply signing my name. You may not think there is a distinct difference, but I can assure you there is.

It won’t surprise you to learn that it took less time for the doctor to thoroughly complete my son’s sports physical than it did for me to thoroughly complete the aforementioned paperwork. I autographed the last page on the clipboard as my son emerged from exam room #3.

“Well doc, did he pass?” I asked.

“Close enough.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Shear Desperation

Shear Desperation
By Allison Adams, 09-01-09, submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 09-02-09

For the last couple of weeks I’d neglected to try desperately to get my son in for a haircut. (When a teenaged boy begins and ends his day with a reminder to his momma that he needs a haircut – its serious.)

You know how hair is: One morning you just wake up to find that overnight your hair crossed the line of looking like it needs a little trim, to looking like it belongs on a Troll doll.

For my son that day came last Saturday, when, in shear desperation, he asked me if I would cut his hair.

Just in case you’re wondering, I am not professionally trained. (In anything.) However, that little detail rarely slows me down.

“I would be honored” I replied. “Please sit here on this kitchen slash barber chair, sign this waiver, and we’ll begin.”

“Not funny, mom. Please be serious.”

I rifled through a number of junk drawers in search of the perfect weapon – I mean – tool. I rejected several candidates (safety-tipped, purple plastic, missing a finger-hole handle) before I selected a shiny, silver pair of scissors. I found a comb in the toolbox, and grabbed a new garbage bag from a box in the garage.

“Don’t these scissors look professional? Now then, I’ll make a hole in this black garbage bag and you slip it over your head to keep stray hairs from sticking to you.”

“What about my arms.”

“You won’t be needing them. Let’s see. I need to get my bearings.”

I used the comb and my fingers to explore his head of hair – just like the professionals do. Then I hatched a plan.

“I guess I’ll start here, in the back. (Snip, snip, … snip.) Did you say you wanted it pretty short?”

“Seriously, mom. Just give it a little trim – okay?”

(Snip, snip. Comb. Pull. Snip, … snip, snip.) “Were you interested in any particular hairstyle?”

“No. No style! Just give it a little trim.”

“You know, there’s a lot more to being a hairstylist than meets the eye. (Snip, snip, snip, snip… Comb. Pull. Snip, … snip.) You have to have proper training and sterile tools …”

“You don’t have those.”

“… And you have to have focus, a steady hand, and a strong back!”

“You don’t have those either.”

(Comb. Pull. Snip, snip, snip. Comb. Pull. Snip, snip … snip, snip.) “Ooops. I meant to ask if you wanted it cut above the tops of your ears.”

“Not really.”

“Oh.” (Snip, snip.) “ That’s too bad.” (Comb. Pull. Snip, snip, snip … snip.) “What about sideburns?” (Snip) “Did you want me to leave your sideburns?”


“Oh. (Snip.) “That’s too bad.” (Comb. Pull. Snip, snip… snip, snip, snip. Comb. Comb. Pull. Snip, snip, snip.) “I suppose I could leave the other one.”

“Mom. Please focus. Really.”

(Comb. Comb. Pull. Snip, snip … snip. Comb. Pull. Snip.) “Good heavens – you have a lot of hair! I need to rest my back; get off my feet. I may need to stop for a few minutes and take a break.”

“Are you kiddin’, mom? Seriously. I’m really sweatin’ in this garbage bag! And I can’t move my arms! Just focus and finish – please!”

“If we owned one of those electric sheep-shearer thingy’s, I’d be done by now.”

“Mom. Please.”

“Quit your whining. I’m nearly through.” (Comb. Pull. Snip, snip. Comb. Pull. Snip, snip.) “Tell me, though - are you a fanatic about having both sides even?”

“I’m hot in this garbage bag, mom. Please just finish.”

(Comb. Pull. Comb… Pull. Snip, snip.) “You know how all the celebrities say they have a best side? Well now you can tell everyone that your left side is your best side!” (Comb. Pull. Comb. Pull. Snip, snip, snip.)

“Are you done?”

“Hmmmm. Well … yes. I believe I am! Let me peel this garbage bag off of you, and you can go have a look in the mirror.”

“Well … I guess … wait. What happened here?”

“Once you wash your hair, then dry it, then keep your head tipped to the left – like this – no one will really notice that spot. Or that other one.”

“Great. That’s great, mom.”

“If you have another hour, I have some foaming hand soap and a butter knife – I could give you a shave!”


“Oh, give me a little credit. I knew as a mom I’d have to be proficient at many tasks: butcher, baker, candle stick maker – but I never knew I’d be styling hair!”

“No – you mentioned butcher.”

Pillow Talk

Pillow Talk
By Allison Adams 11-27-09, Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 11-29-09

“Momma? Pssssst! Momma?”

“Hmmm? Wha …? Is everything all right?”

“Yeah – I was trying to fall asleep but then I remembered I needed to ask you something.”

“Now? It’s nearly midnight!”

“Yeah. All you have to do is listen. You can leave your eyes closed.”

“Shhhhh! Whisper, or you’ll wake daddy.”

“Okay. Well first, I need a dress for school tomorrow.”


“You told me to whisper.”

“You need a dress for school tomorrow?”

“Shhhhh! Yeah – its for an English class project.”

“Please continue.”

“Me and a couple other guys came up with this great idea for a cool video about famous poets, and I said I’d play Emily Dickenson. ”

“Emily Dickenson? Why can’t you be Walt Whitman?”

“Shhhhhh! I got in on the planning a little late and Walt Whitman was already taken. Anyway, we decided to wear costumes for the video, and I think I’m gonna need to wear a dress to be convincing.”

“Convincing? What about Edgar Allen Poe?”

“We didn’t write a part for Poe, and anyway I just need to be Emily Dickenson for about 5 minutes. Do you think you’ll have a dress that will fit me?”

“Shhhhhh! Does your teacher know about this?”

“No – we’re gonna surprise her!”

“Oh – she’ll be surprised all right. Let me think … um … well, I do have a navy blue sheath that would probably look nice on you.”

“What’s a sheath?”

“It’s just a straight-lined dress – no frills. I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”

“Oh, and how about a wig?”

“I’m fresh out of wigs. You’ll have to settle for a headscarf. With the right pair of sunglasses I can make you look just like Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis!”

“Shhhhh! You’re getting a little carried away, mom.”

“I’m getting carried away? I sure hope your GPA can sustain the consequences from your surprise class project.”

“Don’t worry, mom – thanks. Oh, and is my soccer uniform clean?”

“Now that’s more like it.”

“Is it clean, mom?”

“I don’t know, son.”

“Well, we have a scrimmage tomorrow.”

“Where is it?”

“At the soccer park – duh!”

“Shhhhh! No – I mean where is your uniform.”

“I think its in the trunk of my car.”
“Extract it in the morning and I’ll wash it first thing.”

“Uh, okay. I also need lunch money.”

“I don’t have any money.”

“I know. I looked through your purse already. You can just write a check. I dug out your checkbook - here.”

“Not a good time, son.”

“Okay then, in the morning.”

“Remind me.”

“Gosh, mom – you never remember anything.”

“I never remember anything?”

“Shhhhh! Oh, and did I tell you that my class is raising peas and carrots?”

“What on earth for?”

“The Food Bank.”

“Isn’t it too late in the year to be planting peas and carrots?”

“Canned peas and carrots, mom. Wow – you’re out of it.”

“Oh – you’re collecting cans of peas and carrots. And I’m not “out of it” – I’m half-asleep.”

“That’s what I said.”

“Nope – definitely not what you said.”

“How do you know? You’re out of it.”

“True. Help yourself to whatever you can find in the pantry.”

“Ok. Thanks. And then, did you read that note from my history teacher?”

“I skimmed it.”

“Did you sign the bottom part?”

“Not yet.”

“I have to turn it in tomorrow.”

“I’ll sign it in the morning.”

“Okay. Just don’t forget.”

“Remind me.”


“Go to sleep. Goodnight, honey.”

“One more thing.”

“Mmmm hmmm.”

“Mom? Psssst! Mom! Are you still awake?”


“Okay – one more thing.”

“Shhhhh! What? What now? Do you need two-dozen homemade cupcakes for your first period class tomorrow morning? Do you have a science fair project due the day after tomorrow? Do you need me to sew a pilgrim costume before Wednesday?”

“Shhhhh! Don’t be ridiculous, mom!”

“Well … what?”

“I was just wondering if we could get a dog.”

“Oh for heaven’s sake.”

“Does that mean you’ll think about it?”

“Shhhhhh! This is not the time to have this conversation.”

“Can we talk about it in the morning?”

“Remind me.”

“Ok. Goodnight, mom.”

“Goodnight, Emily.”

Ice Age

Ice Age

By Allison Adams 08-17-09; Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 08-20-09

My middle daughter and I had spent the last day and a half loading, hauling, unloading, unpacking, arranging, and rearranging a substantial collection of essentials into her teeny-tiny campus apartment. I was just about to surrender and head home when my daughter noticed that something was amiss in her kitchenette.

She stood facing her Junior Refrigerator and cocked her curly-haired head to one side.

“Something’s wrong” she declared.

“What is it, sweetie?” I asked, even though I already knew what it was. I noticed it almost immediately the day before.

I watched as she flung open the door to the freezer compartment. Her head disappeared inside momentarily, then reappeared with this report:

“THERE’S NO ICEMAKER! NOTHING’S IN THERE! CALL THE HOUSING DEPARTMENT! CALL 9-1-1! The students who lived here last year must have taken it with them!”

“Calm down! No need to panic. No crime’s been committed. I noticed yesterday that your refrigerator wasn’t equipped with an icemaker.”

“What? That’s so lame! What am I supposed to do?”

I rifled through a couple of Target bags and pulled out the solution to her problem.

“Use these”, I said, and I held up two brand new white plastic ice trays and a white plastic ice bin.

“You want me to use tiny plastic drawer organizers and a rectangular bucket?”

“These are ice trays. You fill them with water, freeze them, and voila! In a couple of hours you’ll have instant ice cubes, which you’ll turn-out into the bin!”

“You’ve got to be joking.”

“No joke. This is what we used when I was a kid. Nobody had factory-installed icemakers in their freezer. We had ice trays. Its quite nostalgic, really.”

“You mean archaic.”

“Now sit down here, and let me demonstrate the proper care and feeding of the ice tray.”

“This is a nightmare.”

“First, I’ll wash these trays.”

“But you just took them out of a sealed plastic bag. They’re brand new!”

“But who knows who handled them before they were sealed in the bag? There. Now we’re sure they’re clean.”

“I feel much better!”

“Me too! Okay. Now you fill the tray with water, being careful to use just the right amount of water in each little compartment. You know – now that I think about it, you probably ought to get a pen and paper to take notes. I need to teach you about Ice Tray Etiquette.”

“You’re killing me here.”

“Ready? Okay. First – Never overfill. Got that? If you overfill, you will have a very difficult time extracting the cubes from the tray once they’re frozen.

I remember the days when we used ice trays that were made of some type of metal. There was lever built-in to the tray divider, and when you pulled-up on that lever it would help to release the cubes. If you over-filled the tray you had to run the bottom of the tray underneath the faucet – just long enough to break the frozen seal – then whack the whole thing on the counter, and throw your body on top of the tray, as you simultaneously tugged on the release lever. This usually resulted in a violent ice explosion with cubes flying everywhere and all you’d be left with were a few shards. Very disappointing results.”

“This is fascinating.”

“So, don’t overfill. Second – Never underfill.”

“Oh good grief.”

“If you underfill, you’ll be left with skinny ice shingles that melt almost immediately when introduced to any room temperature beverage, which is really tragic.”

“No – this is tragic.”

“Third – Practice regular ice-making maintenance. Be sure to empty frozen ice trays into the bin. Then refill the trays – careful not to overfill, or underfill – and replace them in the freezer – careful not to spill any water when you set the trays in the freezer or never get the trays out again. “

“You’re really stressin’ me out.”

“It’s very inconsiderate to leave empty ice trays, or an empty ice bin. There’s an important cycle to maintain when making ice cubes: fill; freeze; empty; repeat. Say it with me …”

“Say you’re finished.”

“You can’t turn your back on the process or at some point you’ll find yourself iceless. Maybe you and your roommate should work out some sort of ice tray maintenance schedule. You know, - you take a day, then she takes a day …”

“I’m on it, mom.”

“I’m glad we could have this little talk.”

“Go home, mom. Get a life.”

“Call me when you empty the first tray. I want to know how it turns out. Better yet, send me a photo.”

“I’ll make you proud, mom.”

“I know you will!”

Better Homes & Garbage

Better Homes & Garbage
By Allison Adams, 08-03-09 – Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 08-04-09

“Hey mom – maybe we can start looking at the discount stores for some furniture for my new apartment.”

“Oh no, honey. I’m afraid I can’t be a party to that.”

“What do you mean? Why not?”

“Because I would be depriving you from experiencing an important life lesson – a rite of passage, so-to-speak.”

“Wha …?”

“You see, I’ve been waiting for the time when I could help you furnish your very first apartment! I’ve been saving for this very day!

“Great! Let’s go shopping!”

“No – I mean, I’ve been putting things back for you – saving perfectly good items to hand down to you for use in your own place someday. “

“Hand-me-downs? You mean junk? Oh no – really, mom. I couldn’t …”

“Don’t be silly - I insist! Just look here. Look at this lamp! It has a sweet little bird perched on a branch that’s really the lamp base!”

“But the bird is missing a wing, and there’s a big dent in the lampshade.”

“Just turn it to the wall – like this – and no one will really notice. See?
“Then I have these plastic dishes with a Hawaiian motif that I used once for a luau party about 15 years ago. I knew you’d love them, so I’ve saved them all this time! Look! There are 3 plastic cups that match! One thing to remember though – they are not dishwasher-safe.”

“Are you punishing me?”

“Here now, look at this. Here is a perfectly good lavender-colored bath mat set. Don’t mind that big spot – I spilled a little bleach there. And look how nicely it goes with this jungle print shower curtain! Notice the detail in that jungle print. Those Macaw look like they’re about to fly right off the curtain, don’t they?”

“You are punishing me.”

“And look here – I’ve saved this thing – a Mr. Juicer Junior. Most of the parts
are still in the box. I received it in 1988 when I opened a new savings account at the bank.
“And here is a lovely artificial oil painting of a beautiful sailing ship on a stormy sea. Look at the colors in that water! It will go so nicely with these brown plaid throw pillows that your uncle’s second cousin’s next-door neighbor used on the wicker sofa they once had on the porch of their lake house.”

“Have I been THAT bad?”

“First though, we need the foundation items. Things like tables and bookshelves – those sorts of things. “

“Now you’re talking. Where shall we start shopping for those?”

“Are there any construction sites near your new place? We need to find one of those big, empty, wooden spools – the type that utility cable is wound on. That’ll be your kitchen table. I think daddy and I can spare a couple of folding chairs for you to sit on. They won’t match each other, but they’re fairly sturdy. Maybe we can sweet talk a couple of vegetable crates from the produce manager at the grocery store. You can tip them up on their ends and use them as side tables for the couch you don’t have. And while we’re combing the construction site, we need to pick up a few cinder blocks.”

“What, pray tell, will we do with those?”

“We’ll place 2x4’s on them and use them for bookshelves.”

“Of course we will.”

“And, we need to see if we can find some old milk crates for your record albums.”

“But I don’t own any …”

“Then we’ll drive around some of those fancy neighborhoods on trash day and see if anyone has set out perfectly good household items at the curb. They won’t mind if we pick them up – they just want them disposed of. Your daddy and I scored the greatest recliner and tray table set once when we were out looking for things for our first place.”

“Let me get this straight. You expect me to furnish my new apartment with hand-me-downs, building supplies, and other people’s garbage?”

“You’re catching on! Its ‘repurposing’. Remember, I watch HGTV. There’s another name for that decorating style … oh, yes – “Shabby-Chic” – its all the rage!”

“Oh - it’s shabby all right.”

“Now then, if we come up short we can splurge a little and start hitting some of the thrift shops in town. Frugal decorators like us are bound to find some treasures! Did I ever tell you about the pitchfork that I turned into a coat rack? I’m telling you – when we’re through furnishing your little apartment, it’ll look like something right out of a magazine!”

Leader of the Pack

Leader of the Pack

By Allison Adams 12-12-09; submitted to The Greeneville Sun 12-12-09

As I reported several months ago, our pooch – Charlotte Jean – vanished into thin air. Poof.

In the months since her disappearance I have gradually settled into a comfortable, dog-free lifestyle. I can come and go as I please without having to think about how long I’ve been gone and whether or not somebody has sufficient shelter, water, or food. I can decide to take an overnight trip at the last minute without thinking – oh wait, I need to hire a dog sitter. I can leave a full plate of food unguarded knowing my meal will be right where I left it upon my return. My wardrobe is no longer dusted with a fine coat of white dog hair. I also holler no, hush, and down a lot less frequently.

I’ve even seriously considered replacing our canine-compromised carpet.

For a dog-free me, life has been simplified – a fact my husband cannot deny.

Not so for the other dog-free people with whom I live. While I became secure in the knowledge that I could finally put a candy dish filled with chocolates on the coffee table without worrying that I might later need to make an emergency trip to the veterinarian’s office to have Charlotte Jean’s stomach pumped, my children were making plans to convince me that I needed a dog in order to be fulfilled.

Bring it on, kids.

Well, they brought it all right. They worked every angle at every opportunity. They begged and pleaded, but I ignored. They forced me to look at numerous, too-cute-for-words puppy photos, but I remained reticent. They went on reconnaissance missions to the Humane Society and excitedly reported their findings, but I was unflappable.

Then they unexpectedly scored a major victory. They lured my husband to their side. When he became one of them, I was left to fight for my dog-freedom alone.

In no time flat I found myself in the car with my son and traitor-husband, headed for the Humane Society. On the way there I spoke to God and explained that while I really wasn’t ready to bring home a new dog, but I would if there was someone special who was meant for our family. I asked Him to help us find each other.

We surveyed the pups and hounds and were inexplicably drawn to one, lovely, limping lady. We had found each other.

And because she needed to recover from an injury sustained before she arrived there, she could not be discharged from the Humane Society’s care for several weeks. I had some time to get ready to bring home a new dog.

Now, if I’m being honest I must admit that the mysteriously departed Charlotte Jean lacked a few redeeming qualities. I realized that was most likely the result of poor training on my part. The mother is always to blame.

Determined to be a better dog mother I decided to read Cesar Millan’s book – “How to Train the Perfect Dog”. Perhaps some of you have watched his “Dog Whisperer” episodes on the Discovery Channel. Millan successfully trains dogs based on the philosophy that they relate to a “pack” environment. When you adopt a dog in to your “human pack” you must take careful steps to assert yourself as the pack leader; show your four-legged friend who is the boss, so-to-speak. Millan teaches his readers how to do this in a natural, loving, non-aggressive manor by practicing consistent behavior, kind discipline, appropriate affirmation, and silently - using your eyes.

Every now and then I’ll camp on one particular the page in the book and use my pen to carefully underline the important points. I enthusiastically announce to whomever might be in earshot: “I’m learning to be a pack leader!” (There’s something about declaring that out loud that makes me feel like it might actually happen.)

Empowered with the Dog Whisperer’s philosophy, I decided to practice what I learned on one of my own litter:

“What are YOU looking at, mom?”

“I’m pack leader-looking into your soul to convey that I want you to fetch the garbage cans from the curb without giving me any lip.”

“Hmmmm. Nope. It’s not working.”

“Drat. Well go get the garbage cans or you’re grounded.”

“Now THAT’S effective.”

Thankfully this pack leader still has time to review her material before we welcome our new dog home. Wish me luck.

The Good, The Big, And The Ugly

The Good, the Big, and the Ugly

By Allison Adams 01-09-10, Submitted to The Greeneville Sun on 01-10-10

Last March I was in Nashville to attend the funeral of my husband’s beloved cousin, Libby. As the family gathered in the church parlor to receive friends on the evening before the funeral service, one of Libby’s dear girlfriends paid her respects, and also presented each of the women in the family with a beautiful embroidered linen handkerchief. Until that moment I’d never owned one.

As she handed me what would be my handkerchief, she said something very touching, like even somber occasions deserve the best we have.

Her gift was extremely thoughtful – a perfectly lovely gesture – but as they say, you don’t send a boy to do a man’s job. A fine linen handkerchief is no match for the output generated by a good, big, ugly cry. No sir.

Fortunately I had already had several good, big, ugly cries in the days and weeks leading up to, and in anticipation of, that somber occasion, so I was pretty much tapped-out. That handkerchief served me well none-the-less. It was my security blanket, which I clutched tightly in my hand throughout the funeral service.

If I had an endless supply of wishes at my disposal, I would spend one wishing that I could cry like Judy Garland did when she played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.

Remember the close-up? Remember Dorothy’s big-as-teacup-saucer eyes with perfectly formed teardrops singularly streaming down the apples of her cheekbones?

I’ve never had sparkling teardrops fall from the apples of my cheekbones.

I tend to stifle my weepy moments. I save them up for a time when I can really do them justice – privately. Perhaps it has something to do with the sheer force of the pent up emotions that have been ignited by one thing in particular, but when I cry its an event. A big event. A natural disaster.

When I cry my nose becomes big, bulbous, and fire engine-red. As one would expect, its output is commensurate with its size and color.

My mascara runs. My facial expressions are disfiguring. Slobber dribbles from every hole in my head. My appendages flail about, unless I’m tucked in a fetal position. My words are unrecognizable because they are spat out in between sobs.

With charm and class, and with understated waterworks, Dorothy wept daintily. Almost certainly, she wept into a beautiful embroidered linen handkerchief.

I’m a Kleenex girl, and I had a good, big, ugly cry today.

Like a seasoned meteorologist following a massive storm system, I detected the threat of my good, big, ugly cry several days ago. Due to a number of somewhat emotional events in recent weeks – the reaction to which I had suppressed – I recognized that I was a walking upper-level low-pressure system. A slow-moving tropical depression.

Like any responsible citizen preparing for a natural disaster, I took precautionary steps. I made sure to buy a case of Kleenex the last time I was at the grocery store. I unpacked the case, and opened each box, taking care to pick out the edge of the first tissue so it was ready to be grabbed. I strategically scattered the boxes throughout my house.

First thing this morning, I issued a public service announcement.

“I’m going to have a good, big, ugly cry today” I said. “It will most likely begin as a torrential downpour, and then continue intermittently throughout the day.

“Please beware that random eye contact, or a seemingly innocent remark, or a well-meaning embrace could arbitrarily trigger a sudden downpour. Consider yourselves warned. It’s every man for himself. That is all.”

I took one Kleenex box and unloaded it into the pockets of my apron, and my blue jeans. I topped-off by tucking massive quantities of tissues up the sleeves of the sweater I was wearing. I was armed and ready.

I watched as my daughter finished packing her belonging into her car. She took a quick survey of the house just to be sure she had everything.

We held each other’s faces, spoke I-Love-You’s, and hugged and kissed each other goodbye. She slipped into the driver’s seat of her car, started the engine, eased out of the driveway, and then drove down the street and out of sight.

As I watched her disappear, I reached up into my sleeve, grabbed a handful of Kleenex, and let her rip.

This was no job for a beautiful embroidered linen handkerchief. No sir.