An even bigger prick

“Are you going to write about it?” she asked me from across the table while we were eating lunch yesterday.

“I don’t think I really want to,” I said. “I mean, it’s just a little too moronic, dontcha think?”

She paused for a moment, presumably because she knew I’d arrive there on my own.

“I guess I kinda have to, don’t I?” I asked.

“I think so,” she answered.

So here I go.

Thursday night, there was a book fair at Zan’s school, and since Jayna had already morphed into a screaming, crying, porcupine-badger-Tasmanian-Devil-electric-eel type of thing by the hour at which it was time to leave the house, plans for the whole family to attend were spiked.

* * *

We interrupt this blog entry for an important update on Operation Release the Pahpiece: The pahpiece remains banished from Casa de Scratches, and the child whose mouth it had occupied ’round the clock for three full years has been doing remarkably well … except when she becomes very upset (which, we are told, she only does about 9 gazillion times per day, often for no apparent reason, and always with the fury and intensity of a Category 5 hurricane) and no longer has a pahpiece with which to soothe herself. One such time arose on the evening of March 5th, 2009. Neighbors reported the spontaneous shattering of their windows, and the yelps of visibly pained and distraught canines could be heard for miles around. Eventually, we are told, she reached the point of total exhaustion, at which time her father was able to successfully cage her—er, place her in her bed, rather—for the night. Stay tuned for further updates.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog entry, already in progress.

* * *

Once the Ambien I had slipped her was working its magic, I was able to carefully escape from her room. (Relax; I’m just kidding. I would never give her Ambien. It’s much too expensive. Tequila is what we sedate them with in our house.) And, for the second consecutive night, I decided I’d try to help facilitate an easy bedtime transition for Zan by turning on his light, lowering the shades, turning down his bed, etc.

So I reached for the lamp, and I turned it on, and lo and behold, it sprang to life, so there was no need for me to reach for the wall switch and possibly cause another catastrophe like the one that played out the previous evening. With the light now on, I withdrew my hand from the lamp and turned away from the dresser, and as I brought that hand and arm back to my body, one of the large, white cactus needles—which I so foolishly disparaged in my previous entry by saying were “just for show”—went all jihad on my ass, and achieved martyrdom by drilling itself into my sleeve.

Terrorist cactus spine

More terrorist cactus spines

And then, for the second time in roughly 24 hours, I heard the scattering of little pebbles as the terra cotta pot containing the cactus again toppled, and again spilled its contents onto the dresser and floor. And then I heard the dry, muffled thud of the little cactus as it, too, fell to the floor.

Déjà vu. Except, this time, I didn’t say “fuck.” No siree. What I said was, “You have got to be fucking kidding me!” And I said with gusto.

My choice of profane exclamation wasn’t the only way in which Thursday night’s cactus-toppling incident differed from the previous night’s … because this time, instead of falling behind the dresser, where who gives a shit what’s back there?, the cactus fell directly in front of the dresser. And instead of coming to rest partly against the moulding along the base of the wall behind the dresser, which the night before had kept the cactus itself raised slightly above the carpet, the cactus landed smack-motherfucking-dab on the carpet. And when the clusters of tiny little red cactus needles were introduced to the carpet, it was love at first sight.

During the half hour that followed, after I had gathered up the pebbles and returned both them and the cactus to the little terra cotta pot from whence they came, I was on my hands and knees with a flashlight and a pair of tweezers as I attempted to locate and remove from the carpet the hundreds of little needles, several of which found their way into my flesh during the operation.

Let’s go over that again: I was on the floor. On my hands and knees. With tweezers. And a flashlight. Removing cactus needles from the carpet. Who’s life is this? Mine? How is that possible?

Once I finished tweezing the needles from the berber carpet—whose mostly beige weave is accented by a smattering of rust-colored fibers that look exactly like the tiny little red cactus needles I was hunting, and can you even believe this shit?—I busted out the vacuum, which I used to suck up whatever I could from in front of the dresser, as well as the mess from the previous night’s incident, which was still behind the dresser.

And then, in an act that defines the kind of dedication it takes to be a parent, I ran the palm of my bare right hand back and forth and to and fro and hither and yon on the carpet in front of the dresser to determine if I had succeeded at extricating all of the needles, because better they end up embedded in my hand than in Zan’s or Jayna’s frequently bare feet. Fortunately, it seemed to be all clear.

Of course, later that evening, while getting ready for bed, I felt one of the renegade needles skewer my thumb … and, this morning, Zan discovered one in his lower leg, which I had to tweeze. And I fear that we will be finding these little fuckers all over the place for weeks to come, despite my best efforts.

And if that cactus so much as looks at me the wrong way, I am going to terminate its prickly ass with extreme prejudice.

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