the good stuff

Dan and I went out last night to The Axe House. Axe, like the deodorant, I couldn't help but note. Not "ax" like a tool. Something I would have found perplexing if I wasn't so accustomed to wrong spellings on perfectly public signs. Why is this acceptable? I'll never get it. I don’t mind poor grammar or misspellings in people--I do, briefly register it sometimes, but not long enough to form a judgement.

But if you have a business? Set aside the 5 seconds it takes to look it up on Grammarly. Or me! Call me! You are reading this post. You know how to get a hold of me. Just a quick message: "Hey Mona...I’m about to pay $5,000 for a road sign, can you tell me how to spell this word correctly?" It’s laziness. Glorified mediocrity, is what it is.

I found out later (because, yes, I looked it up) that both spellings are equally fine with the populace. A-x is more common in many places, though no more correct.

In passing, I also noted, as we walked through the breezeway of a door, that there was a giant whiteboard proclaiming that the "League's" were forming soon--something that made me wonder what the league had to be so possessive about, given that it was single.

We were invited to this shindig a while back and I wrote it on the calendar: 7:00 @ 18 North Central. Saturday, March 27th. It was a birthday party.

In many ways, I am a complicated lady, I think. And I think--by and large--Dan is the best man for the task of navigating the waters of my skill set. I am a little bit domineering, but I would never be rude. When I want to talk about something, I absolutely believe he should listen. But there are also a lot of things I leave unsaid. And between the two of us, I am the far more classically organized one.

I know the schedule. I know when all of Maggie’s games are because they are written on my kitchen calendar. I know when we have to leave. I know when I need to pay bills and what date they are due. That’s not to say Dan is not organized--he is in the way that works for him.

But he will also tell you that my penchant for creating organization for myself is often baffling to him. And--in his defense--also to Will. Will, who has never forgiven me for moving the silverware drawer 8 months ago.

“I need the towels by the stove!” I shout at him whenever he brings it up. Also, I have a short fuse. But I really am a very patient person.

On Friday night, Dan clarified that it was not by 7:00, but by 6:15 that we needed to be there. I reminded him we still had to sign the waivers, a little task that had managed to elude us both all week long. By Saturday afternoon, I just went on the website and forged his name. I told him I had done it for him and he texted back, “Nice!”

And I want this role for myself. The caretaker. In many ways I am very suited to it. Schedules, details. These are all my jam. I do this at work 5 days a week, 8 hours a day. It keeps everything right on kilter.

Dan teases me often about my dedication to the rules and to what is expected, but that kind of life has never steered me wrong. It has allowed me to raise two kids on one single salary of less than $35,000 a year. I am a school teacher--I like the details. The details save my life--they save my every single day. But, the problem with me being assigned this role is that I am also very, very forgetful. And I am very quick to completely abdicate responsibility. I’m very quick to organize at the start, but I lose the details in the end.

“Oh crap!” Dan swerves into a roadside liquor store on the way there. “Anna says you can bring coolers in.” he said. A detail which had escaped me entirely...and briefly I consider whether I actually ever read all the details.

In the soaking rain, Dan parks the car and runs in. I intend to stay in the car, but run in, myself, because I need to remind him to get me a couple bottles of water. I am the designated driver. The whole thing doesn’t take very long, though we do stop to marvel at the $799.99 bottle of whiskey. “That must taste delicious…” I say in reverent tones, and Dan barely comments at all.

We get there and Dan drops me off at the door--a chivalrous move on his part that I did not even think to ask for but it is pouring down rain. Buckets. Puddles. We, without a cooler...but with our BYOB. And so Dan drops me off in front of what appears to be a repurposed banquet hall, under the valet circle drive.
It took me a little while to get out of the car, but not anywhere near the "87 years” Dan estimated it was taking me. But I had a lot to grab. Our plastic bags of liquor store booze. The waters. I think there was a hole in the bag. The rain blowing in every direction. There was a lot to organize on the floor of the passenger side.

I notice immediately, when I walk in and head toward the lone occupant of this establishment sitting behind the bar that we are not supposed to bring in our own beer, which is puzzling given all Dan’s knowledge around the coolers and Anna and everything.

“Hi!” I say and he nods his head, but does not move from his seat. Later, I would notice that this man had a limp, but for now, all he was to me was a man who refused to budge.

“I...hi. I…”
“Are you with the birthday party?” he interrupts.
“They’re already all back there. But, here, let me get you all set up.”

At this point, I notice the limp, but….“Are we…” I trot after him...Whew! He is fast on that hobble! “We heard it was okay to bring in coolers?”

He glances back at me. I hold up the bag by its handles. Cooler, indeed.

“NO.” He said, “Absolutely not.” And I can see that. Eek!

By the time Dan walks in, dripping from the rain, I have already signed us in and got our membership cards. Our waivers are already on file (thanks, me), which is a relief because we are already late.

I tell Dan we can’t bring beer in. He looks baffled but happy enough to return it to the car. He hangs around for just a bit before heading back out. He grabs the bag, tells me he will be right back and walks away. But as he rounds the corner, he turns around to walk backward, facing me, and I see that he mouths something to me. Something that I don’t quite catch until I grab my purse to cross the room and realize my purse has gotten heavier. Six beers heavier.

The weight of my purse fills in what I can’t understand about what he was saying to me. “I put the beer in your purse”--I fill in the gaps--and I realize that while I was talking to the man, Dan had been using the distraction to stow bottles in my purse. I’m accidentally Bonnie, to this Clyde who has left the building.

From there, it all happens pretty fast. We find out there is only one space left, so I tell Dan he should go, but that’s when Dan starts getting suspicious. Then the man tells him that I can’t go back there which reallllly gets on Dan’s nerves. First the cooler, then the one space, then, “I’m not going back there and leaving you out here!” he says and I say,
“It’s fine!” I’m not sure it is, I don’t stop to think about that. I just know it is his friend’s birthday, and we are already late, and I am perfectly fine not to be doing the ax throwing thing. It’s fine. Really...it’s fine.

Now Dan’s in a head shaker of a mood, which I hate to see. I was disappointed, but I had had a really long day. So I was okay with a little me-time and all these beers I had in my purse. The lone bar man leads Dan down a hallway and I hear him faintly giving Dan instructions.

While he is gone, I get myself comfortable enough to settle in and watch the screens. The entire wall is filled with them. Perhaps 20 of them, flashing different rooms of the course, cameras pointed to different players at random times. It reminds me of a military op. Black and white, rather grainy screens.

And at the same time that I really start to truly take in my surroundings--the ax throwing lanes behind me. Empty. The go kart-thing-a-ma-jig room--karts all in Park. The genuine sound of artillery...I start to notice that on the screens is not ax throwing--but some sort of tactical game. This is also a tactical op place...I don’t know...with paint balls or something.

And as soon as that is sinking in to me--like Kaiser Soze being revealed at the end of The Usual Suspects---here comes Danbarrelling around the corner with the bar-man hot on his heels.

“We are in the wrong place.” He announces. This giant, darling man who is so often my magnetic North. And I hop off the bar stool, grab his hand, and wave good-bye on a laughing “sorry!” to the bartender. And we run back out into the rain.

Let me tell you that Dan teased me so mercilessly all the way to the ACTUAL place for trying to “send him into a military op” that I almost wet my pants. Him narrating his own inner dialogue, trying to understand all of these events was so funny to me that by the time I spilled myself out of the car at the correct location, I was begging him to stop. STOP. TALKING. My side hurt, literally HURT from laughing.

“People tell you these things are flaws,” Robin Williams’s character says in “Good Will Hunting”.

He goes on, “Ahhh...no. That’s the good stuff.”

Because anyone looking from the outside in would assume--not that I know more than Dan (oh, heavens no!)--but that a person with my skill set: school teacher, team leader, kind of Type B, but really close to Type A, would be the one who had the details down pat. And that Dan, way more laid back, would be the one who is sort of going with the flow. But, in reality, SO frequently the opposite is true. He’s the one who knows what is going on, and I have completely forgotten to remember half the details.

We were walking out The Axe House last night, hand-in-hand, heading over the Mattingly’s for dinner afterwards. Just the two of us, we had left by pairs. And I stopped in the breezeway.

“Wait!” I said, and ran back.
I looked left, looked right. Everyone who worked there looked busy.

“Babe…?!” he said in a giant warning voice when he saw me erase something off the white board at the entrance.

I came bounding back. “What??” I grabbed his hand again. “I was helping. ‘Leagues’ is plural, it isn’t possessive…”

He laughed as we headed down the sidewalk. Then he looked down at me with a little eye-roll. “Oh, sure. THAT you remember."

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