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I’ve been so busy over the last two weeks that I have hardly had time to breathe, let alone write. Rest assured that I have been reflecting upon many deep thoughts and if I can ever retrieve them from the recesses of my brain, I will be sure to post them. In the meantime, I give you this little bit of crazy:

Yesterday, like so many days, was a whirlwind. Unlike so many days, my scheduled activities required that I fire the few cylinders left in my head. By late-afternoon, I was mentally exhausted. I mean I could barely speak. In fact, I stopped speaking altogether after leaving the very expensive, yet-healthy-and-delicious grocery store where I purchased two pounds of grass-fed, organic, locally butchered, pre-cooked meatballs from their deli case because I could not bear the idea of making dinner from scratch.

If you follow OINKtales on Facebook, you know that I have been carbohydrate-free since Monday and that I have been more tired and even crankier than usual (if that’s possible). How I miss my beloved bagels, pastas and cereals! I agreed to try this experiment at my husband’s suggestion. “Let’s do it for a week,” he said. I’m pretty sure that he wanted me to do it so that I would cook for him. When he’s done Atkins’ in the past, I told him he was on his own in the kitchen and then continued to prepare delicious meals like lasagna and homemade macaroni and cheese for the kids and I. (If it was for any other reason, he hasn’t said…and if there is one, he had better not.)

But I digress. Back to the story. Small and Medium are in the midst of a tickle fight in the back seat of my car. I am trying to ignore them while I drive and daydream about beef. As I turn into our neighborhood, my cell phone rings. It is one of Large’s friends asking to set up a playdate. My carb-deprived brain stops listening when it registers that it’s seeing two escaped prisoners. I toss my phone on the passenger’s seat and slam on my brakes. My next-door neighbor’s golden retrievers are headed for adventure on the open road. They are the picture of happiness – tongues lolling and tails waving. For a long second I debate: should I let them go or try to catch them?

I spring from the car whistling and calling to them. I don’t know their names. They come over to me anyway and I grab their collars. They are huge dogs. I am wearing heels. Neither dog appreciates being caught and they begin twisting and pulling to get away. I struggle to keep my balance and hang on. In this moment, I come to the instant and awful realization that with both of my hands full of furry beast, I can do nothing else. Thankfully, I am rescued by another neighbor who weighs about 100 pounds soaking wet. “Can I help?” Neighbor #2 shouts.

“Yes!” I yell back, relieved. “Can you grab a dog?”

In the transfer, one of the dogs escapes. Neighbor #2 runs after him. I look back at our cars and see that my children and one of her two children have unbuckled their seat-belts and are standing in the middle of the road. “Get back in the car!” I say sharply. Neighbor #3 drives up, dodges me, the children, my other neighbor and the dogs all the while gawking at us and continues on his merry way. Neighbor #4 pulls up in her SUV. “Everything okay?”

I explain the situation. Neighbor #2 has caught the other dog again. Neighbor #4 generously offers to put the dogs in the back of her SUV. We get one dog in; the other dog runs off. Neighbor #2 chases. I tell Neighbor #4 which house to drive to and follow her, scolding my children to buckle in as we’re driving, hoping the dogs’ owner is home.

I bang on my next-door neighbor’s outside breezeway door. Just when I think no one’s there, the inside breezeway door is opened by a bare-chested, pajama-panted teenage boy that I have not seen in the seven years my next-door neighbor and I have been neighbors. The teen takes one look at me, blanches, and before I can say anything, closes the door in my face.

Now, I don’t think I’m scary looking. At least most of the time. And in this particular instance, I was wearing pants and a shirt that required ironing before I donned them, the aforementioned heels, lipstick and mascara. Maybe he thought I was a Jehovah’s Witness come to proselytize. Maybe he thought I was a Mary Kay representative. I didn’t know and I didn’t care. All I wanted was to return the damn dog whose origins I was now questioning. Incredulous, I turn to Neighbor #4 who, because of me, is late for an appointment. “I have no idea,” I say to her. “Maybe he went to get a shirt.”

I send Medium home to get our dog leashes, then bang on the door some more, pace, and think dark thoughts about teens today. Neighbor #4 supervises her children and mine and checks her watch. Medium returns with the dog leashes and her father. We leash the dog and encourage Neighbor #4 to get going but she can’t because I unthinkingly parked behind her. I ask my husband to take Medium and our car home.

The door opens half-way and the teen – now shirted – sidles out. His eyes widen at the number of strangers in the driveway. “Dude,” I say impatiently and probably a little shrilly, “We have your dog!”

“Whaat?” He acts baffled and is seemingly unable to look at me. “I didn’t know even know they were out,” he mumbles.

I am irritated and indignant. “It IS your dog, isn’t it? The other one is running up the road and another neighbor is trying to catch him.”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Uh, yeah!” I snort.

Neighbor #2 pulls up in her car with the second dog. The teen brings the first one into the house. As he is wordlessly bringing the second dog inside, I call to him sarcastically, “Thank you!” He doesn’t respond.

I need carbs. F#%k this diet.

By the way, in case you’re interested, the house on the other side of ours is for sale.

Last week, I was informed that for the past month, Henry spent his weekly “swim time” parked in a chair instead of paddling in the pool. His recalcitrance had spread to the other children and was now an “issue.”

Indeed.

I hate to swim. Not only am I a sinker, but I am uncomfortable in the locker room. I never know where to look.

Nonetheless, I agreed to go swimming with Henry.

On swim day, the kids’ flailing, spinning bodies skimmed across the classroom like spandex encased tumbleweeds.  A teacher commanded the group’s attention (no easy feat) and they sat down for a pre-swim snack. As the kids munched on goldfish and blueberries, Henry’s friend X called to me.

“Henry’s Mom!” X said with a smile.  “My Mommy….you.”

I could not catch X’s voice from across the room. “What, honey?” I asked, while wishing for coffee. Did I have time to run out for coffee?

The second time, X’s words were crystal clear: “My. Mommy. Can’t. Stand. You.”

Ahhh. Got it. Message received.

How was I supposed to respond to that?  With a neutral “Thank you for sharing”?  Or maybe a snarky “Tell her I feel the same way”?  But I was caught off-guard by X’s comment. I recalled chatting with X’s mom on numerous occasions. In my recollections, she was always friendly–often saying hello and initiating our conversations.

I quickly concluded there was no appropriate response and I made none. Soon, snack was over and we were on our way to the pool. Henry was happy to swim with me and I delighted in his delight.

Later, as I reflected on X’s statement, my own Mommy-voice echoed in my head: “It’s OK. You aren’t going to be friends with everyone.”

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