Monday, September 01, 2008

The Double-Saturday and the Tale of the Phone Call

Here I am again, another Sunday morning sitting on the back patio. Trying to wake up.

Only this time it's actually Monday morning. Labor Day Monday morning.

Long weekend holidays are great because it's like having two Saturdays in a row. And who doesn't enjoy a good double-Saturday?

This morning Suzy the black lab puppy and I are waking up together out here with a gorgeous blue sky and warm breeze. The water in the pool is crystal clear but now starting to cool down to the chilly seventies.

It's beautiful out.

My only wish today is that Suzy could fetch me another cup of coffee.

Now that would be a sight. The coffee mug bouncing as Suzy's teeth gnarled around the black handle. Coffee sloshing out of the cup and the nearly empty remains set in a thunk at my feet as she hopes I drain the cup hoping I'll toss it into the yard for her to fetch another. "Suzy!" I would say - in my best puppy disciplining voice, "You put too much cream in my coffee, bad girl".

But that could never be. I can't get Suzy to poop in the same place in the yard, let along get her to pour from a carafe without spilling and not put the spoon you stir with in the sugar.

Lassie, maybe. But not Suzy.

If poor little Timmy were ever trapped in a well, and Suzy were his only hope to be found and rescued, poor Timmy would find that Suzy would rather reach her head down and lick him to death rather than find help. And if she did venture off, she would be distracted the first time a squirrel came by. Poor little Timmy.

But Suzy is very happy today. Jumping and tail wagging and just plain excited.

Suzy is happy because we are staying home today. Poor Suzy spent yesterday locked in the garage with the fan on and the garage door open just a crack to let fresh air in. Poor Suzy.

Suzy was locked in the garage because, well, we had two Saturdays back to back. And so on the first Saturday – the real Saturday, young Katie came over to babysit the girls – and Suzy, while Dar and I headed to the lake to visit our other great friends John and Darlene.

Now this gets confusing, because both my wife and her best friend Darlene have the same name. And both answer to Dar for short. The confusion gets more interesting because my Darlene's first husband is also named John. This caught me off guard one summer afternoon eight years ago when Dar and I had just started dating. Dar had gone off to run some errands and I was watching a ballgame on TV. And the phone rang.

I made the mistake of answering it.

"Hi, is Darlene there?" said a nice elderly lady on the other side.

"No, she is out running errands right now", I answered. "May I take a message?"

"Why is this the Fred I have heard about?", asked the nice lady.

"Why yes it is."

"My name is Louise", I am John's mother. I am so happy to talk to you", said the nice lady.

But I only knew one John associated with Darlene. And that was her ex husband. I have met him once since and he is a great guy, actually.

"We have heard so much about you", continued this very pleasant lady, "and we can't wait to finally meet you!".

"I .. uh .. err. Well, that will be very nice."

The nice lady who was Louise, John's mother, then went on to invite Darlene and I to her house on the lake front in Colchester – a cottage community on the southern tip of our Essex County community – the most southern point – other than Point Pele – in Canada. The whole state of Michigan is north of this little Canadian town.

"It's a surprise celebration for Darlene and John" she continued. "To celebrate their anniversary!".

"Well, that does sound great", I said – lying because I had never heard of anyone ever being invited by their girlfriends ex-mother-in-law to the an anniversary party for her and her ex-husband.

"Should we bring anything?" I asked.

"Oh, just yourself, please. Oh Darlene and John will be so happy to see you."

I actually held the receiver away from my face and looked at it. I shook my head in disbelief and put it back to my mouth. "Indeed this will be a surprise", I replied. "And very interesting".

"Yes, well then we will see you both then?"

"I wouldn't miss it", I said. It was the most honest statement I had spoken the whole conversation.

I hung up the phone and I resumed watching the ballgame. Shortly after, Darlene had returned home from her shopping.

"Anybody call?" she asked.

"Funny you should ask", I said. I told her verbatim the phone call.

"Oh, that's great!" replied my then new girlfriend Darlene. "You'll love their place. It's on the lake, and right next to the marina. Louise is so sweet, and John's house is right beside hers".

"I can't wait!", I said. "I've never been to an anniversary party for my girlfriend and her ex-husband. This should be quite a hoot. Maybe I'll bring a banjo and wear my straw Stetson. I wonder where my old cowboy boots are …"

Darlene looked at me and realized. And she laughed so hard that I couldn't stop her for several minutes – each moment getting more annoyed by the fact that she was laughing at me. Not with me, but right in my face.

"Yes, I found it humorous too", I said in my classic dry sarcastic manner.

"No, no, no, you got it all wrong!" she answered. "You haven't met Darlene and John yet!"

"There is another Darlene?"

And so she explained. And then I laughed and laughed to.

And that anniversary party was actually quite great. And when I met Louise, who was indeed a very nice woman, we both laughed as I explained my misunderstanding on the phone.

"I'm surprised you didn't hang up on me", laughed Louise.

It turned out she was right. They are great friends. And have been ever since. In fact they are now called Aunt Darlene and Uncle John by our little girls. And Darlene is in fact both the girls God Mother. And Katie is their sixteen year old daughter whom my girls adore.

Sadly, Louise passed on several years ago after a long tough battle with cancer. Darlene and John rented out then sold their house, moving into Louise's and renovating it to the beautiful estate it is now.

So that is where Darlene and I went this weekend. And Katie came to babysit our girls, and Suzy. We had a great barbeque and a bonfire that night. In their back yard, with Lake Erie as a back drop we sat in this sunken area surrounded by Stonehenge type tocks around the biggest bonfire a committee of friends could build. The total gathering was about ten couples and a couple of guys John works with. It was a great group. And as you do around the bon fire, you tell stories as you sip the beverage of your choice.

And so I told this story again to this new crowd of friends.

The next morning, I drove back into Windsor to pick up Katie and my girls to take them out to the house on the lake. And poor Suzy was put in the Garage. We took the girls to the Harrow fair – as county a fair as one could ask for with rides, and games, and horse riding and showing contests and a barn full of animals to meet. Late that night we all arrived back to our own home in Windsor. To a very happy Suzy who found it was bedtime shortly after we came home exhausted from our two Saturdays in a row.

So as I started to tell you, before I was distracted, It's a beautiful summer Sunday-Monday morning out in the backyard on the patio.

The coffee is perfect, and Suzy is very excited.

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