We had a fight.
It doesn’t happen often. Mostly because I am a spoiler and generally reward bad behaviour.
But, we did have a fight.
And we haven’t spoken since.
She has probably forgotten all about it. She can do that. However, I am not very good at forgiving or forgetting. I come from a family with red headed Irishmen that were known to write-off siblings for the most minor of infractions and not speak to them for decades.
Still, she’ll act all sweet and ask me for a favour at some point today. And I’ll give in.
Oh, did I mention that “she” is The Monkey?
Here’s the story:
As I’ve mentioned in here before, the monkey’s grandmother babysits her during the summer months. The grandparents (my uncle and aunt) have a pool. The monkey is part fish. She LOVES to swim. However, her grandmother is not comfortable lifeguarding. So, since my schedule is the most flexible, I get “the call.” Which pretty much always goes like this:
Monkey: Hello. *hee hee* Can you guess why I’m calling?
Peter: Who IS this?
Peter: What’s up, squirt?
Monkey: Do you know what I want?
Peter: You want me to buy you beer?
Monkey: Yuck. No.
Peter: You want to borrow money?
Monkey: NO. I have money.
Peter: You missed me?
Monkey: Ha! No.
Peter: I don’t want to play any more.
Peter: You want me to watch you while you are in the pool?
Monkey: Yes, please.
Peter: OK. Give me ten minutes.
Monkey: Five minutes?
Just to be a shit, I take a few extra minutes before making my trek over to the house. I change my gmail status to “Be back in an hour, suckers.” I grab a bottle of water, throw on a baseball cap (gasp!) and head out.
When I arrive, she is ALWAYS standing in the driveway, in her bathing suit, trying her hardest to look like she is being patient while she waits.
I wrote about a typical pool experience with The Monkey here:
Now, I should explain that “watching” the monkey in the pool is not just simple lifeguarding. It is truly an interactive experience. And there is no way that I’ll be able to properly explain it to you here. You’d have to go through it yourself. And you’d come out of it profoundly changed. We’d be like two Vietnam vets when we met. Our eyes would tell everything that needed saying.
The experience begins as soon as you arrive. Her little feet come running out of the house. She tosses a towel over one deck chair. She flings her swim goggles on the deck. She runs to the side of the pool and dips her toe in. Then she starts giggling, rips off her glasses and tosses them on the deck table. You stop them before they slide off the other side.
She runs back towards the pool at top speed and…
Takes 15 minutes before she actually gets in.
Monkey lifeguarding takes patience, dear readers.
Eventually she gets in. Then she goes “Ooooh. Oooh. Ooooh!” and starts shivering. I ask if the water is cold. And she always says, “No” while looking at me like I’m completely insane. You would think that I would learn. You would think…
As is often the case with the monkey, your role in the experience usally involves judging of some sort. And more often than not, poolside judging involves grading “cannonballs” and “Johnny Ass-crackers.”
She recently told me to “give me a score up to 10%.” I was confused. She continued, “Like 1%..2%..3%.. up to 10%!” I asked, “Do you mean you want me to score it on a scale of 1-10?” She dismissed me with the wave of a hand and said, “Yeah, that. Whatever.”
The hand wave was a cold reminder of how far I’ve fallen in the grand scheme of things. I was once her favourite person ever. When she was a tyke, she’d make me carry her everywhere. As soon as she learned to dial a phone, she’d call me just to chat. Once, when she had an accident and split her lip, her mommy and grandparents couldn’t get her to stop crying, she made them call me. I had to rush over. She stopped crying immediately, and took a half hour to share the harrowing tale with me. (Essentially it was “Ran too fast and fell.”) Now I am someone to reach the top shelves and a smartalecky necessity when you want to swim when your parents aren’t home.
I am getting wiser though. I have realized that the trick to dealing with the monkey’s (so far undiagnosed) OCD is to keep giving her higher scores each time. Because there is no way the little loon is going to stop until she gets a perfect ten. And she needs a perfect ten in each different thing she does.
Yesterday’s judging was of her “routine.” Now, I bought that story when I had to judge step-dancing and hip hop routines, because she takes classes in those things. But, I am relatively sure that she has never taken a “swim randomly around the pool while narrating your own actions” class. Though if I asked, she’d swear that she has.
So, her routine was:
Step #1: Swim vigorously – almost angrily – across the pool.
Step #2: Swim back the same way – pausing briefly to shoot a dirty look at Peter to make sure he is watching.
I said, “Nicely done!”
She quickly came back with an annoyed, “I’m not done.”
She repeated steps #1 & #2 from two or three different spots until she was completely exhausted. Then she explained that she was getting out of the pool to “take a breather.”
I don’t know if you knew this, but it came as a complete surprise to me when I found out that “taking a breather” meant blowing down into your bathing suit top to make it puff out. Then repeatedly jumping back into the pool to make the suit stick to her body so that the trick would work better.
The first time she did it she yelled, “Suuuuuper woman!”
The second time she said, “Body strength!!” (Don’t ask me.)
The third time she kind of forgot where she was going with it and said, “Suuuuper… gir–woman!!”
She eventually tired of this – or caught her breath – and went back to just running and jumping into the pool. Each time she’d yell “Cowabunga!” when she was in midair. However, one time she couldn’t remember and ended up yelling “Columbia!” just before she hit the water. I cracked up completely.
Then her mommy arrived home and I was off the clock. I said “goodbye” and walked down the steps. The monkey’s grandmother told her to thank me. So the squirt saucily said, “Ohhhh thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaank you, Peter.” I laughed and started down the driveway. Then she ran down the steps and yelled to me again, “Peter, thaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaank you. Oh thank you.”
As I reached the bottom of the driveway, she came out their front door – after running, soaking wet, through the house – and she yelled “Byyyye, Peter. I looooooooooooooove you!” And then giggled.
When she be
comes a teenager, we are all probably going to have to leave town.
This visit, however, didn’t go as smoothly.
I arrived as Cranky Pete, and didn’t really feel like playing an active role in all of the reindeer games. I wanted to just relax in a deck chair and let her do her thing.
She was, in no way, a fan of this idea.
At first she tried to go along. She swam to point in the pool closest to me and proceeded to repeatedly do as many flips as she could on one breath.
Monkey: Was that four?
Money: It was only three.
Peter: Why did you ask me?
*Monkey rolls eyes*
She got bored with this. Quickly.
She asked me to toss her the volleyball so she could catch it or swim for it.
I said, “Nope.”
She asked again. I refused.
We repeated this process a few more times.
Now, she knows me, and realizes that I am going to give in at some point. But, she was more than a little annoyed that I would have the gall to not immediately do whatever she wants.
She swam to the ladder and climbed out of the pool.
“Are you going to get all cranky now because I wouldn’t play catch?” I asked.
She shot me the dirtiest look EVER.
A lesser man would have wilted, but thankfully I have decades of experience with pissing women off.
She walked past me, making sure not to look at me, and picked up her towel.
I continued, “Awwww. Look at the crankypants.”
If you are guessing that she didn’t like that, you would be right.
She ran at me and tried to hug me to get me wet.
I laughed and held her off.
I grabbed her arms and pretended that I was going to toss her into the pool. (I would never do it.)
She got madder. She grabbed me and tried to throw me in the pool. Then she laughed for a second when she had the “I’m a smurf and he’s a giant” realization.
She swung her towel at me. So, I grabbed it from her hands and tossed it into the pool
I gave her the “THAT. JUST. HAPPENED” nod.
She gave me the “But, you are the grown-up” open-mouth stare.
I replied with a “Whoever said I was mature?” shrug.
She gave me the “I am ENRAGED!” eyes popping out of her head look.
Then I scratched my ear. It wasn’t part of any “look.” It was just itchy.
I sat back in my chair.
She ran to the side of the pool and proceeded to use her hand to splash me.
So, I tossed her swim goggles into the middle of the pool.
She gasped. And then splashed me again.
So, I tossed her nose plug into the middle of the pool.
She gasped louder. And then splashed me again.
So, I tossed one of her flip flops into the middle of the pool.
She stopped splashing me.
I started laughing.
This brought out the return of the dirty look.
Might have been a stink eye.
I told her to hop into the pool and grab her stuff.
It was like I had kicked her cat.
In her decade on this crazy planet, she has never been more insulted.
“Just grab the stuff. Your grandmother is home now, and I have things to do.”
At this point I remembered that she was also from this crazy family of stubborn redheads.
Her main excuse was “It’s too cold! I’m COLD, Peter.” Which was followed by her searching herself for anything resembling a goose bump. Even though it was hot out, and even though she’d swim in the pool if it had icebergs in it.
So, long story… long. I ended up leaving there without making up with her.
However, despite the advice of The Dixie Chicks, The ACN told me on the phone that I had to make nice and apologize to The Monkey.
So, at some point today, I’ll have to go over and apologize.
But, if she gives me any attitude, I am throwing everything she owns into the pool.