Life with Teenagers

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chuck norris

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chuck-norris-002-thumb-400x498 When I get home my ex is already in the teen room flopped on the couch. His keys are on the kitchen counter next to the half empty 3 for $10 bottle of wine and the package of eight portobellos in shrinkwrap. The sink is full of dirty dishes and the dryer is full of unfolded clothes. I look at the clock. It’s already after 7:00.

This is the critical moment of despair, when I just want to give up and call for take out or get into my sweats, grab a container of hummus and some pita bread, and type a facebook status line that says “Mom’s not cooking. Fend” while I dig into the container with my scrap of bread and pretend to do something useful like online Scrabble. OR, I can rally and honor my bright idea to invite my ex to join us at the kitchen table for a little full family face time while whipping up a fast weeknight dinner of… of… (I look over again at the prepackaged portobellos I asked him to buy) something with mushrooms.

I begin washing dishes while my youngest teen walks through the kitchen.
“Hold on there, I could use some help. Start setting the table,” I say to him as I dig through the pile and haul out the dirty grill pan from the bottom.
“What’s for dinner?” he asks with a frown.
“I don’t know yet. I’m going to make it up,” I say back, now scrubbing my cherished pan like a madwoman. I can hear my ex and oldest teen screaming at the TV and I walk a few steps to the refrigerator, reach a soapy wet hand to open the door and look inside.

Sesame bread. Baba ganoush. A red pepper, those mushrooms on the counter, jack cheese. Paninis it is. And there is a container of butternut squash soup in the cabinet. Good. Curry powder, cinnamon, cumin, mexican chile powder.

I switch from the sink to the stove to heat up some olive oil in the now clean and dry grill pan. Next, I furiously chop the portobellos and red pepper, dump them in the oil, and blast on the burner flame to high just as my ex wanders through the kitchen with his box of crackers in his hand. He’s still yelling at the TV, now more than ten steps away from it, and pouring himself a second glass from the already half empty bottle.
“Hey save me some and get out of here – it’s not ready, and you’re in my way” I say.
“Thanks for inviting me, chicken” he says. I glare at him to get out. The sink is still a mess, and the younger teen has set a haphazard table, missing flatware and glasses.
“Go grab the extra chair and the big glass with the candle in it,” I say to the teen, sidestepping my ex while yanking the little pull tab atop the box of butternut soup. The soup pours out in big splashy glubs, showering the top of the stove with pinprick dots of bright yellow. I brush the hair out of my eye that has just fallen from my headband and back up into my older teen, who is now also standing in the kitchen and hilariously laughing in a silent, open-mouthed laugh while trying to get his father’s attention.
“Dad…” he taps him on the back of the shoulder while my ex is moving chairs into position and arranging glasses above each white plate and beside a napkin.
“Dad.” Tap. Tap. “Dad, my friend just texted me another one. Dad, you gotta listen to this. Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a condom,” he says. His father turns around now and looks at him with full intent and his trademark Sponge Bob grin.
“Yeah?” he asks back.
The teen tries to compose himself and repeats the joke. “Chuck Norris doesn’t wear a condom, because there is no protection from Chuck Norris.” The room erupts in laughter. Teen number one stops to hold onto the edge of the chair while bending over. Father and older teen pat each other on the back with hilarity. I flip over the paninis I have since assembled in the pan.
“What’s so funny about that?,” I ask.
“Oh my god, mom, you don’t know Chuck Norris jokes?” one of them says back.
“No, I don’t,” I say and start ladling the butternut soup that is bubbling at the edges of the pan into small white bowls. I hand one to my ex who places it on the first white plate. He sits, and both teens follow his lead, pulling back their chairs to sit as well.
“Kris, it was the funniest thing,” my ex says to me, already spooning into his soup. “We’re in the car, me and my boy up front, and this one – he motions to the younger teen beside him – this one is in the back seat, and you know how he is, he’s like you, he’s so funny. Out of nowhere, he just says “Chuck Norris can slam a revolving door,” and we nearly drove off the road, we were laughing so hard.”
“That’s nice, boys,” I say, carrying a panini balanced on a spatula over to each plate. I slide them off one at a time, near the bowl of soup.

“If you have five dollars and Chuck Norris has five dollars, Chuck Norris has more than you.”

“When Chuck Norris falls out of a boat he dosn’t get wet the water gets Chuck Norrised.”

“Chuck Norris counted to infinity-twice.”

“Chuck Norris doesn’t mow his lawn, he stands outside and dares it to grow.”

“Chuck Norris can fry ants with a magnifying glass. At night.”

And with that one, I choke on a little bit of crust and start to laugh myself. That one was funny. The sheer absurdity of Chuck Norris jokes at the dinner table start to wipe away any care I still have lodged in my body. Any aching between my shoulders, any stiffness in my lower back.

Chuck Norris can fry an ant with a magnifying glass. At night.

What do I care about my long train commute, my dirty kitchen, the undone tasks waiting for me at work tomorrow? Tonight, I have Chuck Norris at my dinner table. I look around and all three of my boys are laughing. I get up and go to the freezer and grab four packaged ice cream sandwiches and hand them out. For another five minutes, all of us silently unwrap our ice cream man treats and eat them slowly as they melt, ripped white paper wrappers strewn about over dirty plates, each person happier than anyone has ever been before.

Even Chuck Norris.

Written by kmguay

October 14, 2009 at 2:46 am

Posted in family

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