Daily Prompt · Random Scribbles · Uncategorized · writing

Daily Prompt: Why, Thank You?

Daily Prompt: Why, Thank You?

 What’s the best (or rather, worst) backhanded compliment you’ve ever received? If you can’t think of any — when’s the last time someone paid you a compliment you didn’t actually deserve?

August 2014

It was hot that day. Not just hot, but really hot. Somehow I had gotten roped into helping my daughter’s new boyfriend’s mother move to her new apartment. This is the price I pay for driving a pickup truck. In all fairness I would have helped her any way. My daughter had asked nicely if I would do it and I had agreed. I thought it would be a good way to get to know the new boyfriend. I would have picked a different day though.

New boyfriend’s mom is named Jo Anne and she is a very nice, albeit petite, lady. I could tell that she was not going to be much help carrying the sofa or the refrigerator. Her son’s name is Jason. He’s a big boy and he would be there to help with the heavy lifting. The move was pretty much directly across town but it’s not a big town. She had rented a fair sized truck, and we had my Ford. It looked like we would have three or four loads for the rental truck and the same for the pickup. My daughter, Donna, and Jo Anne had worked the day before packing boxes so this shouldn’t take too long. We were starting at 1000 and I thought we should be done by 1700. Read that as “right through the hottest part of the day.” I didn’t plan for “Africa” hot.

The apartment Jo Anne was moving out of was on the second floor of a two story building. The apartment she was moving into was on the second floor of another two story building. There were no elevators at either end. This meant that everything would have to be carried downstairs, loaded into one of the trucks, driven across town, unloaded from the truck and carried upstairs. Donna would be stationed as coordinator in the old apartment and Jo Anne would be in the new. They both did an outstanding job of queuing boxes and small pieces of furniture close to the door for removal and moving boxes and small pieces of furniture to their proper destination rooms on arrival. Jason and I functioned as mules.

A routine was quickly established. Jason and I would unload the departure living room to the trucks, drive across town and unload the trucks to the receiving living room. By the time we got back to the departure house most of the next load would be in the departure living room and we would do it again. Did I mention it was hot? Like Sahara Desert hot? Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate was the watchword. Jason and I were drenched before the first load was in the trucks and it never let up after that.

I’m not real good with small talk and don’t really need it. Jason didn’t really know that about me and he was trying hard, maybe too hard. As we were loading for the first run he tried sports, “How about those Dodgers?” he asked.

“I don’t know,” I said, “with no televised games this season, I’m having a hard time keeping up.” … Long awkward pause, “How are they doing?”

“Pretty good, I think. I’m having a tough time following them this year too.”

It got better though. We settled into a routine. We could talk about the heat. We could talk about the pizza his mom had ordered for lunch and how much we both liked pepperoni. We could talk a little about his work, but I don’t know much about Architecture. We could talk a little about my work, but he doesn’t know much about electronics. The silence was not uncomfortable though. I liked this kid and I hoped he liked me as well. I thought that I couldn’t ask much more for a first time bonding experience with someone Donna cared about. I was feeling good about the day.

We were getting ready to go back to the old apartment for the fourth and final load when Jo Anne pressed cold sodas on us both. As Jason and I were standing at the door of the new house chugging Orange Crush he commented, “Man, I am really hot. I don’t remember ever sweating this much.” Then it popped out of his mouth. “You’re handling the heat pretty good though,” he said. “You sure don’t sweat much for a fat man.”

His hand shot up to cover his mouth as it snapped shut. His eyes got really wide (like twice their size) when he realized what he had just said. His mother shook her head and seemed to shrink in stature as she tried to become invisible. Jason began a string of verbal stumbles, “Uh, Jeez, um, that’s not, what I meant was.”

I let him struggle for about three seconds before I couldn’t help it and burst out laughing. He grinned a little bit, still not sure if I was angry or amused. “You thought you were sweating before,” I laughed, “You should see yourself now.”

Slowly, he broke into a sheepish grin, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean that the way it sounded.”

“Sure you did.” I said. “You can buy the six pack after we get this last load.” I shook his hand and we walked down the stairs.