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My husband and I are switching roles:  I’ll be the professor this semester and he’ll be the on-call parent.  He asked for magnets and an order pad, to track dinner requests, so I lined up some of our magnets.

I’ve been the on-call parent since August.  My workday starts at 8:15 and ends at 2:30, or  else it doesn’t if someone has scarlet fever, or the dog needs a Prozac refill, or we have a laundry detergent or liquor emergency, or a tree fell on the house, or youngest child wants me to make Chinese dumplings and appear at school for international day, or the car needs to be inspected, or someone in Connecticut needs help.  (At which point I call the Middletown Inn, really a very nice place despite husband’s blazing mad reviews on Trip Advisor. He has a temper.  Tip: if you are calling our house to ask for money and a man answers, hang up immediately!)  I have practiced getting in the zone, which resembled the days of following a toddler around the house.  Oh, you want to play with the toilet brush?  Well, then, I’ll just wipe out the sink.  Oh, I’m going to Amtrak instead of the office?  Extra underwear and let’s go.

Every household should have the luxury of an on-call parent, a.k.a. wife or personal assistant.  The gender doesn’t matter.  Usually you just have to keep everyone fed and watered, and sign a lot of papers for school.  Husband has never worked in a restaurant, so I’m somewhat concerned.  He wants to open a wine bar, but that’s because he never had a nightmare featuring restaurant customers as open-mouthed pigs, he never had to read Kant and roll silverware at the same time, and he never felt sweat pouring down his sides under a tightly buttoned waiter shirt as he frantically scooped vanilla for seven hot fudge sundaes. (You think someone else makes the sundaes back there?) 

Speaking of Kant, oldest child and I saw a novel at the library today, Heidegger’s Glasses, and it struck us funny.  Not as funny as when we both became hysterical in the YWCA locker room years ago as we contemplated the bathroom stall manufacturer logo: Hiny-Hiders.  You know, we’re more mature now.  We thought we too could write a novel with a marketable title, and we set to thinking.  More on that later in a special mother-daughter blog post.

It was sobering to be in a library full of books, many of which looked awful (example: When Elves Attack, a novel), and be unable to publish a book myself.  These books roll of the presses like candy bars, and I must be a super-loser if I can’t slip my essay collection into the assembly line. Pathetic.  And I bore myself besides.  I would rather cook a pot of peas than think one more thought, you know?

Speaking of peas, I am undaunted by cooking for five people who each have at least one of the following needs: low-carb, pescatarian, lactose intolderant, must include a star ingredient (shrimp, cilantro, blue cheese, etc.), only eats chicken, is eight years old.  Actually it is absurd, so I play loud music and pretend I’m a particular ‘Nam vet line cook from Baltimore who couldn’t organize a sentence but could slam down plate after plate.  In the zone.

Why do I collect magnets?  According to wikipedia it is a “popular hobby” and I love to feel popular and normal.  Also magnets are “cheap touristic souvenirs.”  According to Russian collectors who are trying to promote a name for us, the conventional collectors of cheap souvenirs, I am a memomagnetist.  The memomagnetist with the largest collection in the world is Louise J. Greenfarb also known as The Magnet Lady.  She lives in Henderson, Nevada, and had 19,300 magnets in 1997.  Louise J. Greenfarb.  Some names are so perfect they don’t even seem real.

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