Big Billy – For starters and first of all

There’s nothin’ worse than a summer cold, I says to Minnie, sittin’ at the kitchen table all choked up with my nose runnin’ off my face and my eyes all red and about a dozen balls of kleenex on the table in front of me.

What are ya talkin’ about? she says. For starters, it’s not summer anymore because the Big BIllykids are back in school. And for seconders, you got a cold because you still sleep with that damn fan pointin’ at ya all night.

Wait a minute, I says, pointin’ at the calendar next to the phone. First of all, looky this on the calendar there – the first day of fall ain’t until this weekend, so that means we’re still in summer. And second of all, I like sleepin’ with the fan on because it keeps the air right fresh, which helps me breathe with all the cuh-gestion I got from the cold.

Well, Minnie says, for starters, all the fresh air is on your side of the bed, because whenever you let one rip the fan blows all that nastiness right over on me. So while you’re breathin’ fresh air at the top of a mountain, I’m chokin’ through the smell of yesterday’s beans. And for seconders, it’s called “congestion” Billy, not “cuh-gestion”. There’s an N in there.

Oh yeah? I says, well first of all, I wouldn’t be eatin’ so many beans if ya weren’t tryin’ to feed me healthy food all the time. No wonder I got this cold. Eatin’ salad and lettuce and carrots all that stuff, I prolly got my immune system right low. It’s a medical fact ya get stronger eatin’ meat – steaks and pork chops and hamburgers, that’s what I need to get myself fixed up. And second of all, whether there’s an N in the word or not, my lungs are still all clogged up and one big reason is because ya keep usin’ them air fresheners all over the house. Lilac this and rosewater that. No wonder I spend all day chokin’.

For starters, Minnie says, I didn’t know ya knew so much about treatin’ sick people, so the next time I go in to Wal-mart I’ll get ya a stethoscope to wear around your neck so everybody knows you’re a doctor. Come to think of it, I think I remember seein’ that on TV on one of them health shows – healthy people should have three steaks a day and then at night a whole bag of BBQ chips and a row of chocolate chip cookies.

I only had half a row last night! I says.

And for seconders, maybe I wouldn’t have one of them air fresheners in every plug if anybody else around here knew how to clean up after themselves. Let’s not forget, in this house you can wake up in the morning and see a trail of crumbs of mustard from the living room to the kitchen and then find a pair of dirty socks in the fridge on top of the salami.

Oh here we go again, I says. First of all, I told ya how them socks ended up in the fridge, and it’s because I WAS cleanin’ up after myself. I was watchin’ the ball game and ate a few sandwiches. After a while I thought I’d be more comfortable if I took my socks off. At the end of the night when the ball game was over, I scooped everything up. My plate, the crumbs on my shirt, the package of salami, the bottle of mustard – I cleaned up everything even though I was so tired! And what happened was, with my arms full like that, I accidentally put my dirty socks in the fridge on top of the salami. And second of all, how come we got dollar store mustard now? It don’t taste right at all and it’s right runny.

Well, Minnie says, for starters, the reason the socks landed in the fridge wasn’t because you were so tired. It’s probably more because of the case of beer ya drank while ya were watchin’ the game. I guess I should feel lucky it was just your socks in the fridge. It coulda been your underwear in the microwave or your jeans in the oven.

And for seconders, if ya don’t like the mustard, maybe you should go to the store and buy it yourself. I didn’t know ya knew so much about fine dining. Next time I go to Wal-mart I’ll get ya a nice puffy white hat and an apron so everybody knows you’re a chef.

Ohhhh! I says. First of all, that happened once! Only one time did you ever find my underwear in the microwave and my pants in the oven. And I told ya why – I was out shovelin’ the driveway. Had the whole thing almost done and the plow goes by again. So by the time I got finished, I was out there almost two hours and my clothes were soaked right through. The kids were in school and you and Joan were off somewheres, so what did I do? Rather than make a big pile of dirty clothes for ya, I figured I’d just take off what I had on and dry them myself.

And that’s how I found you naked, asleep in front of the TV, with your pants in the stove and your underwear in the dryer, Minnie says. Makes perfect sense, eh?

Come to think of it, I says, I caught an awful cold that time, too.

I had to scrub that microwave down three times before the kids would go near it again, Minnie says. To this day, if Rosie cooks somethin’ in there, Little Bill will ask her if it smells like arse.

Anyways, I says, my point is, I’d still say there’s nothin’ worse than a summer cold. *sniff*

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