She looked up from the pile of clothes that she was sorting through. “Yes. Yes, I’m sure.”
Well, it was time for a break, anyway. I snapped the laptop shut and bid farewell to my grandmother for the evening. The mattress squeaked noisily as I rose from the bed.
“Okay, so what do you want?”
“An extra large chocolate raspberry iced coffee, extra light with two equals.” The order tripped off her tongue effortlessly.
Easy for you to say. My peanut-sized brain attempted to absorb the seemingly endless string of adjectives. “Wait a minute, hold on,” I said. “A large raspberry chocolate—“
She shook her head. “EXTRA large. An EXTRA large chocolate raspberry iced coffee with—”
“See, you’ve lost me already. Information overload. Give me a minute to get that much straight. An extra large raspberry chocolate iced coffee…”
“Extra light with two equals.”
“Hmmm.” I sighed, and grasped the bedroom bureau for support. “Where’s a pen?”
“You know what? I’ll make it simple. Just get it for me black. I’ll add the sugar and milk myself.”
I could tell from her tone that I was turning a simple request into the Gettysburg address. I guess I could see it. It was an unpleasant quirk of mine. I mean, when I want to get it kicking in motion, my memory is actually fairly nimble—after all, I recently had been able to memorize the lead role in The Mikado, which had required me to regurgitate huge sections of dialogue, and I had been under strict orders not to paraphrase a single word, for fear of upsetting the rabid legion of Gilbert and Sullivan fans who apparently frequent hole-in-the wall dinner theaters. But my memory’s a selective beast, and special requests were not the specialite de la maison.
“Okay,” I said soothingly. “I’ve got it.”
I narrowed my eyes. Grrr, I hate it that she knows me too well. “I’m sure. I’ll be back.”
Okay…it’s really not that bad…I can do this…extra large raspberry chocolate iced coffee…extra large raspberry chocolate…
I walked through the living room and started to make my way to the front door, focusing on my mantra the entire way.
I stopped and looked over towards the kitchen table. Annie sat there, surrounded by a sea of cardboard and plastic.
“Daddy? Are you going to get the light bulb? I want to start baking soon!”
“Oh, right. The light bulb.” She had just received an Easy Bake oven and was chomping at the bit to try her hand at whipping up culinary delights through the wonders of wattage. I sighed, bracing myself for the worst. “Okay. What kind of bulb did you need?” Oh, don’t be a big baby, baby. How bad could it be?
She consulted her directions. “I need a 120 volt 100 watt not soft white and not long life, standard or frosted.”
Easy…calm down…inner lotus of control… “Okay, 120 watt—”“
“120 VOLT, 100 watt,” she corrected me. “But it can’t be soft white or long life, because if it is, then it won’t burn hard enough, so you’ve gotta get a standard, or you could get a frosted, but just make sure that it’s—”
My head was starting to hurt. I struggled not to black out. Danger! Mind gone haywire…“Okay, wait. 120 volt, 100 watt, frosted chocolate raspberry…”
The overpowering smell of charred circuitry filled the room. A mind is such a terrible thing to waste…