How you do your job may change over time. Heck, around here we've gone from standard typewriters to IBM Selectrics to Apple II SE computers to the latest and greatest Macs.
Your children obviously grow older by the minute, and sometimes wiser, too. But some things never change. They still need your help on occasion. And, of course, you drop everything to assist.
There was a time I would be writing like this and my phone would ring, bringing everything to a halt. Daughter No. 1 would need a ride to swim practice. Or Daughter No. 2 would want me to come home and turn the TV antenna so "The Smurfs" would come in better and not resemble some 3D-gone-mad nightmare on our old Magnavox TV.
So here I am back in 2011, and of all things, "The Smurfs" are coming to the big screen (in real 3D, I believe) after all these years.
As I am writing away, working on a Putnam County Fair story, and my phone starts chirping with text messages like I'm a middle schooler with a crazy crush.
The wife texts to say she's barbecuing chicken and cooking up a mess of corn on the cob (can you have a "mess" of corn on the cob or is that only reserved for Hoosier mushrooms?). I respond with my customary and often-inspired "OK."
The response is "when r u coming home?"
My response: It's FAIR WEEK!
That gains me a few moments of peace and quiet. I knock out a couple more paragraphs about Ladies Day at the fair (becoming quite an expert on it, by the way). Then the phone chirps again.
This better not be Chopper texting, I chuckle to myself, conjuring up a great mental picture of my little Westie punching out a message along the lines of "Grrr got 2 go. Hurry home!"
But just like the old days, it's Daughter No. 1.
"Will you get me some frozen GCB's to send with Ruth, Em and Nic?" Kara texts from Winterset, Iowa.
This I understand. She's craving Marvin's. Aren't we all? And she wants me to buy frozen GCB's and send them along with the girls on their weekend retreat in Wisconsin.
I tell her politely I am immersed in fair duty, and will have to see how the rest of the day and night go before I volunteer to visit Marvin's.
Besides, I wonder, "Will they stay frozen all that time?" After all, the girls will be staying through Sunday.
With another text, she says, "If u put them in a little cooler w/ice and I put them in the room freezer, they should be OK."
Now that would be great, IF I had a little cooler and some ice to put in it, and IF the resort had a freezer in every room.
"No freezer in the room, only fridge," I respond.
And to that, I get back the classic one-word response: "Veal."
As I am trying to figure out if that's an acronym for something I'm totally clueless about or some vague reference to the "I'm here all week, try the veal" comedy line, she retexts me with: "LOL, auto correct turns 'crap' into 'veal.'"
To which I feel compelled to remark, "Better than veal into crap."
Into this electronic conversation comes Daughter No. 2, texting from North Vernon, that Stellar Community from Jennings County.
"Can u get Kara 4 frozen GCB's?" Nicole asks.
Now believe me, that loaves-and-fishes trick may have been easier than this, and that was a miracle.
I politely tell her I am up to my ears in fair facts. "Remind me later," I text back.
A little while later, she texts again, and I'm getting annoyed. I'll get those GCB's all right, I'm thinking, and I'll forget to send them, and I'll eat them all myself this weekend.
But instead, her text asks "What is my ethnic heritage?" followed by "How long has our family been in the U.S.?"
I won't bore you with the details, but I quickly oblige, figuring she's working on a paper for a college class she's taking.
That only brings another text: "What were some of the major world events that happened when I was 3-6 and 13-15?"
Well, the Chicago Bears did do the Super Bowl Shuffle when she was three or four. But I refrain from answering that way, instead pointing her to Google for the top news stories of 1985-1988 and 1995-1997. Can't give her the answers, you know.
Barely do I restart my story when the wife is texting again. "Any idea when u might be home?"
Smart aleck that I can be, I suggest sometime before Saturday night. When the fair ends.
The interruptions finally do cease, and my fair story is suddenly finished. I look at my phone and realize there have been no new texts. Yet all the issues remain unresolved.
So I text Kara in Iowa: "So, no frozen GCB's that would be 4 days old by time u get home?"
"No:(" she responds with that frowny thing I so despise.
It's the wife who's heard from next: "Did u get the GCB's?"
I answer, "No, I think I convinced her otherwise."
A simple special "K" is the only response to that.
At that precise moment, a light bulb pops over my head. I know the answer to the major world events question: Marvin Long cooks his first garlic cheeseburger, wins best of show at fair!
Now leave me alone, I want to go home and watch "The Smurfs."