I just finished hammerin’ in a new metal stake to keep our dog, Smiley Bates, from rippin’ up the neighbour’s garden and scarin’ her cats. Ol’ Fishcakes (that’s what we call Mrs. Fischer) came over complainin’ about it three days last week, so I threw somethin’ together just to shut her up.
I finished up quick and got back inside because Minnie was makin’ her world famous spaghetti and meatballs. So I hurry in and just as I’m sittin’ down to pig out on it, Minnie says – Wait a minute, mister.
She reaches into the broom closet and comes out with a giant bib – like the kind you’d see on a baby, only this one was huge – big enough for a man my size.
There, she said, flingin’ the bib around my neck. Now you’ll put on this bib I made so you don’t keep ruinin’ your clothes on me.
I looked down at the bib and then I looked up at her. What in the hell is this? I says. You made me a bib? Like I’m some kind of baby?
Oh, grow up, for cripessake, she says. It’s to keep your clothes clean, since everything you own is already all stained to hell.
Well then if it’s stained all to hell, what’s a few more stains, then? I said, I’m a grown man and I’m perfectly capable of eatin’ my sphaghetti and meatballs without droppin’ it all over myself.
And just as I was finished sayin’ that, I twirled a big load of spaghetti on my fork, stabbed a big meatball with it and shoved the whole thing toward my face.
Now, what happened was, I guess I stabbed the meatball too hard, so that the fork kind of went through the side of it, and it broke off, bounced off my chin, rolled all the way down my bib, shot out under the table, rolled across the floor and bounced off the side of Minnie’s foot, where she was standin’ by the stove.
She looked down at meatball and traced the tomatoey trail all the way back to the blob of sauce on my chin.
You were sayin’? she said.
Well then, just to spite her, I left the damn thing on. Fine, I said to myself. Let’s just see how long she can stand how stupid I look sittin’ at the table like this.
But the funny thing is, without even realizin’ it, I started usin’ the damn thing. I sucked in a big string of spaghetti and without thinkin’ I just reached down and wiped the sauce off my lips with the bib. Then I realized, if I sort of tuck the end of the bib up on the table, it kind of made a slide back down to my plate for any of the food I dropped.
I wouldn’t say anything to Minnie, but by the time I finished eatin’ I was thinkin’ to myself – Holy cripes, I should’ve got one of these years ago.
But you know Minnie – even though she was the one screamin’ for me to wear it, after three days of wearin’ it, she wanted me to take it off.
C’mon, Billy, what are ya doin’ wearin’ your bib watchin’ TV? It got bits of food all over it.
I might have some chips after, I told her.
The next day, I came home from my morning trip to the coffee shop and she’s downstairs doin’ the wash.
Where’s my bib? I says to her, cuz I was about to eat a row of cookies.
It’s just comin’ out of the dryer now – I finally washed the damn thing, she says. And if you got dirty clothes, throw them down to me.
Well, it so happened that while Timmy and Tommy were havin’ an arm-wrestlin’ contest at our table at Tim Hortons, Tommy’s arm slipped and spilled my extra large triple triple all over my shirt and pants.
Yup, hang on, I says. The kids were in school, so I says to hell with it and just take off my shirt and pants right there in the kitchen. But then I noticed, it was one of them spills that soaks right through your pants and soaks right into your underwear. So – *fffwwwip* – off comes the underwear, and I throw the whole bundle down the stairs to Minnie just as the buzzer on the dryer goes off.
Minnie picks up the clothes from the bottom of the stairs and looks up to see me without a stitch. Cover yourself up, for cripessake, before the neighbours see ya!
And she tossed up a clean white towel for me to wrap around myself. So I did that and yelled down to her again to ask for my bib, but when she came to the stairs and looked up, she said, – Ugghh, gross. I can still see right up your towel.
So right annoyed, I tore the towel off, swung it between my legs and tied the corners at each hip. How’s that, your highness? I said to her as she flung my nice clean bib up the stairs.
I put the bib over my head and just as I did, I heard a knock at the door. I turned around and there was Ol’ Fishcakes. The dog musta broke loose from the metal stake again because she was holdin’ the dog’s leash. Her long, wrinkly face was right there in the screen door, lookin’ at me wearin’ a bib and what prolly looked like a diaper around my parts.
I never seen a woman in her 70s run so fast.