Have to say, I'm really happy this month is coming to an end.
About three weeks ago, I printed out a calendar for the month, and then circled everything I had to do. Honestly, the month looked absolutely impossible.
First off, I had agreed to call a show for two weeks. Then I headed off for a two-day work trip in New Jersey. After that, I had a two-day work trip to New York. Both trips involved travel by car, which meant hours behind the wheel.
The whole month was capped off by an all-day volunteer event yesterday. My company was helping to build a playground in Providence, and that involved waking up early on a Saturday followed by hours of hauling tarp-fulls of mulch. These are two things that Teds hate.
By the end of the day, every muscle in my body was aching, I was covered in mulch and sweat, and all I wanted was to go home and take a long bath.
That's when my cell phone rang.
It was Corb. "Ted, I'm at my mom's. She wants us to eat supper over her house tonight."
What? Eat supper? Travel? Be sociable? Dammit. All I was looking forward to was going home, swimming in my own filth for a half an hour, reading the New Yorker, and watching episodes of Rome with Corb (that's my current favorite show right now...I love stories about my early childhood).
I guess the tone of my voice was unmistakable. "You want me to go to your mother's?"
Corb was pick to quick up on it. "Don't get grouchy with me. We go to your parents' house all the time."
"But I've been hauling mulch all day long! My head looks like it's radioactive."
"I've been working outside at my mom's the whole day, Ted."
"But I woke up at 6:30!"
"So did I!"
Grrrr. I could feel angry flies buzzing around my head. "All right, Corb."
"No, I'm not." But yes, I was.
"Yes, you are!"
Desperation crept into my voice, on little cat feet. "Look, I just wanted to go home and relax."
"So go home! Relax, take a shower. Take a nap, even. Then drive to my mom's around 6:30. Okay?"
Grumble grumble. "Okay."
Two hours later, I was on my way to my mother-in-law's, cleaner (well, as clean as you can get from stewing in your own filth) and napped. But still grouchy.
I pulled into her driveway at around 6:50. Corb was there, waiting. He took a look at my face. "You're still grumpy," he said.
I made a face. "I will be if you keep telling me I'm grumpy."
"What's so bad about eating at my mom's?" He said, raising his voice. I looked over at the front door, to see if his mother was around. She wasn't, but her boyfriend, Jim, was. No big deal...even with his hearing aid, he couldn't hear much unless you shouted.
"There's nothing wrong about it," I said. "I just don't feel like socializing tonight, that's all."
"Oh, like it's so painful to be fed dinner?" Corb frowned, turned and walked to the back of the house.
His mother came out of the house at that very moment. "Still grouchy?" she asked. I gave her a look, and she smiled. "He really has missed you a lot this past month, you know."
Well, I've missed him, too. And he has been so many great about so many things, lately. I could feel my grouchiness start to dissipate. "What's for supper?" I asked.
"Ribs and three minute corn," she said.
"Three minute corn?" I asked, skeptically.
"Absolutely," she said. "Jim's a bit obsessed about his three minute corn. Aren't you Jim?"
Jim looked up from the barbecue. "There's a farm I go to in Norwood," he said. "The guy who owns it has a sign on the stand. It says, 'Don't bother buying this corn if you don't plan on eating it today. And don't buy it if you're going to boil it for more than three minutes."
"Why three minutes?" I asked, curious.
"Well, I asked him about that," said Jim, scratching at the white hair sticking out of his ears. "And he said that everyone over-boils their corn, which makes it chewy. He says that to keep it crisp, you need to boil it for exactly three minutes. No more, no less. If you do that every time, and if you cook your corn the same day you buy it, you'll have a perfect ear of corn, each and every time."
"Interesting," I said.
"He also used to sell turkeys and chickens," he said. "You'd get to pick out which one you'd want him to kill for you. Delicious."
"Did you have to eat them the same day, too?" I asked.
Jim paused for a minute. "Nope. You can wait two days on that."
Half an hour later, we were sitting down to ribs and three-minute corn. I ended up having three ears. Jim was right, the corn was perfect. And Corb was right, too, it wasn't that painful, being fed dinner.
During dinner, I could feel my grouchy mood slipping away swiftly. In a matter of minutes? Three minutes, to be exact.
I guess corn isn't the only thing that has a time limit.