By RHONDA SCHROCK
The headlines have been full of it. With things heating up in what some call “the big sandbox over there,” the nation is looking to President Obama, his minions and the 113th United States Congress for their response.
“We have been very clear to the Assad regime, but also to the other players on the ground, that a red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized,” the president said in August 2012. “That would change my calculations significantly.”
On a much smaller, more domestic level, I know what he means. His red line involves bombs, chemical weapons and terrorists in robes. Here, the local ruffians utilize fist fights, foot chases and their own brand of, uh, chemical weapons that alter my calculations significantly, especially when they drop ’em in a moving vehicle.
As a parent, I’ve laid down so many lines (red, black and otherwise) that I couldn’t begin to count them. When the little thugs overhead routinely blew up my Sunday naps, I threw down a menacing black line.
It went like this: “You can breathe, and you can blink, but that’s it. No galloping in circles, dropping stuff or scraping chairs across the floor because that wakes up Mommy. And we don’t want Mommy waking up, do we?”
The only politically correct answer here was no, and three wagging heads agreed.
I painted another line that may or may not have involved barbed wire. But instead of demarcating a “Quiet, Mother Napping” zone between the upstairs and the downstairs, this one separated the kitchen and my back room.
It was the soggy socks that did it. There I’d be, cantering about in a carefree, happily-caffeinated manner in my fluffy socks when bam! I’d hit a puddle the size of Chesapeake Bay. What? And more importantly, who?
No longer cantering in socks that were no longer fluffy, I’d bring my considerable forensic skills to bear. Sloshing out to the back room, I’d start at the door, following the Trail of Wet that wound through the laundry room, bypassing every rug I’d laid down, then swerving through the kitchen. A couple of loop-de-loops in front of the fridge with a stop by the counter told me that a “someone” or two had grabbed a snack on their way past. Which is about where I stepped in the bay.
If I had “stepped in it,” so had the commoners. Just that quick, I was Margaret Thatcher, delivering an impassioned address to the House of Commons.
Using hand gestures and creative charades, I demonstrated to the wig-less members of parliament my true feelings about soggy stockings. I explained to them the importance of rugs in their lives and, using Power Point, showed them the link between Mother’s carefree cantering and their quality of life. To their credit, they professed a deep and sudden affinity for the use of rugs and expressed a desire to live past dinnertime. I sighed, forgave them and went to change my socks.
Now, if those were legislative lines I’ve had to draw, there are several personal ones I’ve painted over the years. For instance, there’s a brick wall between liver and I. I’m no liver lover, and I’d sooner do a “Cousin Don (i.e., lick a pump handle in the dead of winter)” than eat that stuff.
Same goes for skinny jeans — brick wall. In Mandarin, that translation is “not happening.” After what occurred in a certain dressing room, I avoid them like the plague.
Oh, they were cute, alright, beckoning to me in the cheeriest of colors from a corner rack. They shouted cheer and fun and youth, all the things I love. Grabbing a pair of orange ones, I headed for the dressing room, bouncing along in time with the sunshine, whistling a tune called “Hope.”
If the song was “Hope,” what the mirror shouted was, “Change!” And quick, which I did, fleeing the scene. They’ll never prove that I shot out the dressing room mirror. I have an alibi for the night in question, and he’s sticking to it.
There’s one other line I’ve decided, finally, to draw. Remember the local thugs and the, uh, chemical instruments of misery mentioned before? I’m done serving weapons-grade burritos to them only to have it come back on me later, like in the van. On the road. In the dark.
There you are, driving along, when it hits. The blindness is instant. Tears stream from your burning eyes, and you can hardly remember your name. A wheeze, a cough and three wrong turns later, you’re in Lakeville. Or that’s what you discern when the fog finally lifts and your vision clears.
I’m not saying they’d be a match for the Syrians, exactly, but with the right platter of beans and burritos, it’d be close. That’s all I’m sayin’.
Meanwhile, I’ve got a call in to the Mossad. I’m in the market for an Israeli mask. Those guys won’t get the drop on me again. I’ll be ready here in my fluffy, dry socks.