The following day I arrived in Melbourne at the home of friends I’ve known for twenty years. After a hug to their eldest, who had the audacity to graduate just a couple of months prior, and a hug to Chris’ lovely half, I was greeted by their Belgian shepherd Orion, who is, if I’m going to tell the truth about it, a crotch dog with an addictive personality. If I believed in reincarnation, I’d say he had been a gynecologist in a former life, since he saw fit to stick that long, pointy snout of his in places that only a medical specialist should go. Today was no exception, and I had soon received a rousing welcome from the canine portion of the family. I took a seat before more violations could occur.
The feline faction was not to be outdone, so Chairman decided to forego his busy afternoon nap schedule and leapt straight into my lap for customary petting.
“You’re one of only three people he likes,” Alli stated, as I appeased the royal cat enough to warrant a slow tail wag.
“Any chance I can overtake the number two slot while I’m here?”
“There’s always a chance.”
The next morning I pulled myself out of bed at the ungodly hour of 7am. During the summer months, I consider anything before 8 to be in full breach of vacation protocol, not to mention a slap in the face to all the school mornings I’m out the door by 6:30am. Unfortunately, I’ve found that the bladder has a great deal of clout when it comes to scheduling the staff, and I was just exiting the powder room when the youngest member of the family accosted me.
“Hey! You’re awake. I want you to make me some eggs.”
Make you some eggs? I can barely make it to the bathroom unassisted at this hour. I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear, and the five year old in front of me, smelling disorientation and vulnerability in the air, took me by the hand and towed me to the fridge. Eggs, sure. It’s not as if he’d requested a quiche. I cradled the Styrofoam carton and milk jug in my elbow and asked if he wanted cheese in them.
“Cheese? Ok, Aunt Crazy.” The nickname started because Tim had misunderstood my name a year ago, but the male members of the family had done a great deal to ensure its survival.
I grabbed the cheese from the drawer and dumped the contents on the counter. A clean skillet sat on the back burner, so I drafted it into service. I was reaching in the cupboard for a bowl when I heard orders from my left.
“No! You don’t use that pan; you use this one.” He flung open a cabinet and started rooting around the cookware. “And you don’t use that bowl either . . .”
I cut him off at the pass. “Look, if I’m the one making the eggs, I get to choose my own pots and pans.” Tim comes from a long line of Germans, and I’d learned from Alli that I had to be firm or Swastika Boy would stage a hostile takeover of the kitchen. I was already at indentured servant status as it was.
Tim pulled up a stepstool and began to oversee the process. He told me how much butter was required, questioned the wisdom of adding salt to the mixture and finally deemed it necessary to commandeer the scrambling himself. I yawned while he whirled the whisk around the bowl, and Alli entered just as the eggs hit the skillet.
“Oh, I see you suckered Aunt Traci into making you eggs.” She looked at me. “Normally he only gets eggs on the weekend.” Tim turned blue eyes and a tousled head of hair my way and grinned.
Outfoxed by a person whose age is still in the single digits. Nice. But to be fair, I’m not at my sharpest until I’ve had my Cheerios. If he had just let me get a bowl of those under my belt, I might have stood a fighting chance.
© 2012 – Traci Carver