“Normal people don’t kiss frozen tater-tots,” I said to her in an even, matter-of-fact tone. Her only response was to purse her lips, bend over and kiss the tray of evenly spaced potatoes yet again.
This sort of delightfully rational moment is always balanced by some sort of irrationally bizarre moment that proves to be equally extreme. I thought of the concern I held for the impression of mental stability that kissing frozen potatoes offered as I attempted to tip her stiff, 135-pound frame and horizontally insert her into the cab of the truck. The text message from our helper was simple enough; “B had a seizure and can’t walk the rest of the way home – she’s too heavy for me to carry, help!” I got in my truck and headed down the street looking for them. When I found them, they’d been standing there for at least 10 minutes looking for all the world like two lawn statues embraced as one in a hug, affixed to the middle of the sidewalk.
I parked the truck in a nearby driveway and walked over to them unsure if I’d have to drag her the rest of the way or if my voice alone would get her to move. I lamented the thought of not having a two-wheeled cart that I could simply load her onto like a large tank of welding gas. Fortunately, she stiffly moved in my direction when I called her name and rather than let her hug me, I held her at arms length and sashayed the rest of the way to the truck. She blindly stumbled along.
I hoisted her up and got her started, feet-first into the pick up truck. From there I shoved till her rump cleared the bench seat and then like a rolled oriental carpet, I gave the remaining torso a good shove till she was upright in the middle of the cab. For this she gave me a toothy grin. Her eyes, rolled deep into the back of her head gave no indication of moving – like a toy doll with the eyes that open when you turn them upright; this doll was clearly broken.
When this sort of event happens, whatever you thought you were going to do goes immediately on an indefinite hold. For the next three hours you’ll find yourself on one side or the other, holding the left or the right fist in an attempt to keep her from punching herself in the eye. When she connects with her nose and the blood flows, you find yourself thankful that she didn’t hit the eye. When she hits her head, you’re glad she missed what she was aiming for. When after an hour or so, she begins to lessen the swinging of fists and you start to watch for the “sneaky finger”. This is where you think she’s rubbing her eye but in reality, she’s trying to run her index finger in beneath the eyeball.
On this particular afternoon, Sherry and I thought we were going to go for a nice drive and run a few errands. Instead, we found ourselves resigned to the world of “un-normal”. As a primer for the unfamiliar: Un-normal people kiss frozen tater-tots. Un-normal people try to poke out their eyes.
Sherry and I have found that our only indicator of what “normal” is comes when something infuriates us. Those are things like: “you two should go away for a weekend and relax” (clearly a normal activity), or “have you seen any good movies lately” (again, a normal and rational event). My favorite was on the Christian radio station in which the expert outlined “the best way for your marriage to fail is to live separate lives in which you do little or nothing together” (makes good, normal sense). I guess that sitting on the sofa with your spouse for hours on end, trying to keep your daughter from blinding herself constitutes a marriage keeper in the un-normal world because that’s about all we do together.
Its not that we don’t want to do those other “normal” things, its just that we can’t! The text for help comes when you’re out for a drive to forget. The "evening away" is hedged by the realization that you need to be home before 9pm and the horror of both is that if you do go away and manage to relax; you’ll pay hell for it when you get home! The all-nighters, late nighters, evening seizures; were they to happen once-in-a-while, I think we could cope. The problem is that they happen nearly every night.
All of this frustration causes us to find a bizarre humor in all the occurrences that Bethany presents. In our chiding her for kissing frozen foods, in the way we laugh when we tell the story about “loading her horizontally into the truck”, or even recounting the story about her blind right hook missing her eye and bloodying her nose. I never know if our laughter is an emotional shield, a pathetic cry for help, or some gift that allows us to see a divine beauty in human tragedy. I never know if the blind stare I offer people when they explain the rough night they had because the cat kept shifting on the bed, is a tell that I managed to hold back my suggestion for dumping the cat and getting a good night’s sleep?
I can only assume that the things I’m failing at today as a result of all this, is fodder for tomorrow’s triumph. I’m certain that in tomorrow’s triumph, kissing frozen tater-tots will have a perfectly logical explanation.