I’ve never been much of a knocker. If I see a door closed or just closed over, chances are I just open it and go right in. I don’t even think of it, I just walk right in. And over the years, that’s gotten me some awful blasts from Minnie.
It’s no so bad when I walk in on Minnie since she’s my wife and everything, but it’s when somebody’s over visitin’ us and I forget myself and just walk right in that I really get blasted for. Like the time I forgot my slippers in the bathroom and walked in to get them and there’s poor Joan sittin’ on the toilet readin’ the TV Guide. Or the time Minnie’s sister Betty came over to get a bag of sweaters that didn’t fit Minnie anymore and I walked into our bedroom only to find Betty liftin’ her shirt up over her head (uggh, I washed my eyes with bleach that day, I tell ya).
Anyways, the point is, Minnie’s been on me for years to knock anytime I see a door closed – only now she’s really changed her tune.
See, the thing is, ever since Little Bill got himself a girlfriend earlier in the summer, we’ve been findin’ them all over the house in a tangled mess of contortions, the likes of which you wouldn’t see at the Shriners Circus.
I told yis about last week I went to wake him up for school and found the two of them asleep in his bed. Well, that ain’t the half of it. See, if two teenagers were gonna be getting up to no good with one another, you’d half expect to find them in a bed. No, the really disturbing ones are where you walk in somewhere you’d never expect them to be. I swear, it’s like they’re tryin’ to give us a heart attack or somethin’.
I was changin’ the oil in the truck out in the yard and realized I needed a wrench from the baby barn. So I open it up and there’s Little Bill, sittin’ on my work bench with Rita sittin’ on his lap facin’ him, with their clothes all crooked and their hair all messed up.
What in the hell are ya doin’? I said, and off they scattered.
Or another day, Minnie was makin’ homemade beets and she went down the basement. I was sittin’ at the kitchen table eatin’ a biscuit and after she went down the stairs, I heard her yell, What in the hell are ya doin?! And a minute later Bill comes flyin’ up the stairs and out the back door, with the girlfriend right behind him.
Minnie came back in the kitchen yellin’, Get upstairs and get a cold shower, and tell her to get home and brush her teeth!!
I didn’t even have to ask – Minnie just looked at me and said, Right on my grandmother’s old cedar chest!
There was one summer years ago we had a problem with earwigs – anytime you walk in a room and turn on a light, they’d be all over the place and then they’d scatter into any nook and cranny they could find to get away. That’s exactly what it’s like now with Little Bill and Rita, you walk into a room, turn on a light and they start climbin’ off of each other and runnin’ away.
Ya gotta talk to him, Billy, Minnie said to me. Ya gotta tell him about the birds and the bees for cripessake, or he’ll have her up the stump.
Uggh, I started to argue why me, but of course I knew she was right. There comes a time in every young man’s life when his father should take him aside and explain the facts of life.
Now, a lot of times, if it’s too late or if it’s rainin’, I’ll drive Rita home for the night and Little Bill will come along, of course. So it was on one of these rides back home the other night after we dropped Rita off, I decided I’d have the talk with him. Man to man. No beatin’ around the bush. I decided the best way to do it would be to just come right out and say what I was gonna say, as plain as day.
Bill, I said, and sorta cleared my throat, and tipped my cap back and scratched my forehead and loosened my seatbelt and wiped my hand over my face.
Whuh? he said.
Well, I said. Hockey players don’t go into the game unless they got the right equipment, right? Before you jump over the boards and get into your shift, a hockey player gotta make sure he got his shoulder pads, and his elbow pads, and his cup, his helmet. He gotta have his shin pads with his socks done up and taped, and he gotta make sure his skates are sharpened and his laces are tied real tight. He gotta make sure he got the right stick and the blade is curved right and it’s all taped up right, eh.
Whuh? he said again.
What I’m sayin’ is, I said, before you jump into the game you gotta make sure you’re wearin’ all the equipment ya need, eh? That’s important, son, or you might hurt yourself, or even somebody else. You know what I mean?
He didn’t say anything for a second, and then he piped up and said, Yeah. Yeah, you’re definitely right.
And I looked over at him and gave him a nod, and sort of took a sigh of relief because that was the most graphic conversation about the birds and the bees I’ve ever had in my life. But I was proud of myself that he really seemed to get it.
Until we got home.
He walks in the back door and says to his mother, Da says I can try out for hockey this year. Can we go get my new equipment tomorrow?
Minnie looks over at me and says, What in the hell are ya doin’?!