We were cruising into our third year of marriage and about to move for the fourth time. Ugh. Luckily for us (or unfortunately), we had squat to move from place to place. If you wanna get technical it actually was move number 5. The first move was about 2 weeks after we eloped. Hubs was staying in my small apartment. It wasn’t a conducive environment for a healthy/romantic way to start wedded bliss. Only females rented in this big old house AND EVERYONE SHARED A BATHROOM. I stood guard by the door when John was in there or getting ready for work. I found the situation hilarious-he did not.
So we rented a small house on Douglas Street in Sioux City. Cute house on a steep hill. It was late fall and we soon discovered just how cold a house could get when it was slapped on a slab of cement. Not only frigid inside but the heating bill was 3 times what the rent cost us every month.
Next up was a new duplex in Leeds (a burb of Sioux City). Nice place with great neighbors, Lee and Carolyn, who were in the same boat as we were (well, their boat had a small horsepower motor, which sputtered from time to time. Our boat had one oar. Which was broke. Needless to say, we didn’t get the paddle end). Newlyweds, both of us pregnant and our spouses worked nights, giving us hours to nurture a timeless friendship. Carolyn would have a baby girl in June and our baby girl was due in December (we didn’t know about the ‘girl’ part until the obstetrician proclaimed the news). But since I was no longer working, we couldn’t afford the outrageous rent, thus another move to cheaper digs just a few miles north.
An itty-bitty three room house in Hinton (a tiny town) where we would bring Shannon Marie home. The house was on highway 75, approximately 200 hundred feet from the railroad tracks. The house twitched/lurched/heaved and Shannon’s 5 dollar crib inched it’s way across the room each time a train rumbled by. A built in soother. Shannon’s domain shared equal billing with the dining/living room. Not ideal, but doable with a newborn.
A few months later, our landlord stopped by to offer us a bigger house for the same rent a couple blocks away. FIVE ROOMS. What would we do with all that space? However, there were a couple of glitches. The house was another slab home which had a fuel oil heater in the dining room, (taking up valuable space, connected to a chimney in the corner) as our only source of heat. Which was insatiable. And discriminatory. Our dining room was a toasty 92, the bathroom and our bedroom (far away from the heater) struggled to stay above 55. But we were crowded and Shannon was mobile, so we moved. Again. I could no longer count on the train to lull Shannon into dreamland. Shoot, we were 2 blocks from the tracks now and nothing in this house moved when a train zipped through town.
Shannon was a precocious toddler who now had her first bestie. Another toddler who happened to have fur and four legs. A Maltese named Tina. They were inseparable. It honestly couldn’t have been more work if I’d had twins. What one couldn’t think up/plan/devise, the other one could trump that-times 10.
Neither Shannon nor Tina had behavior issues-by themselves-but in cahoots together, they were a force to be reckoned with. Although the puny gang consisted of only 2, they were formidable. Much as I hate to admit, Shannon was the instigator about 95% of the time. Tina was the follower who would go to great lengths to complete their mission at hand (paw) any day.
One day Shannon (the CEO) got my purse down from the top of the dresser (the bedroom furniture was so close together, it wasn’t much of a stretch) and found an open pack of Juicy Fruit gum. With the stealth of a ninja warrior she quietly unwrapped a stick for herself and happily chomped for a couple minutes. But instead of offering Tina (the VP) her own stick, the best friends forever took turns chewing the same piece. All was well until Shannon thought it was her turn but Tina wasn’t ready to comply. (Tina knew the flavor in Juicy Fruit lasts 5 minutes-top-and didn’t want to give it up until every fleck of juiciness had been absorbed-by her). There was a bit of a power struggle, (a coup perhaps) when Tina lost some of her chomping power. Shannon might have been trying to physically remove the gum with her chubby toddler fingers. Neither would get the chance for the last 30 seconds of flavor as the wad of gum had come to a complete stop in the fur on the right side of Tina’s mouth. Almost made her head tilt from the weight combined with their slobber.
Shannon swore she had nothing to do with this fiasco. Tina had somehow managed to get the gum out of my purse, removed the wrapper and never once offered to share it with top management. Shannon completely threw Tina under the bus. At this point, Tina really didn’t give a shit whose fault it was. This wad was driving her beyond the brink. Her little mouth and tongue were feverishly trying to work the gum out of her fur-to no avail. She looked like Flo, the ‘kiss my grits,’ gum cracking, smart ass waitress on Alice.
By the time the lowly guard of the castle (me) discovered the 2 trouble prone toddlers, Tina was exhausted from chewing and getting nowhere and Shannon was no closer to admitting one iota of fault. The gum was as hard as a rock and the only solution I could think of was just cutting the hunk out with attached fur. Not her most attractive look the next 3 months, but the two made up and all was right with the world.
The next pickle the ‘girls’ would find themselves in could have turned out much more serious. Shannon was sick. She was running a temp, runny nose, ear ache, upper respiratory gunk. We brought her into our pediatrician, Dr. Stauch who checked her over and ordered an antibiotic for ten days. Several days later Shannon was feeling much better. After her nap, a diaper change and a snack Shannon was raring to go and so was Tina. I was enthralled with the lives of Lahoma and Sam Lucas on the new soap opera, Somerset when my scalp started to tingle. Except for our large screen TV (13 inch RCA) the house was eerily silent. What was going on? I could literally see Shannon, sitting on the floor in the kitchen near Tina’s water and food bowls. She didn’t turn her head or respond when I called her name. Something much more interesting was happening and I hadn’t been informed or invited.
Shannon (although she claimed it was Tina’s idea from the get-go. Poor Tina, she couldn’t argue with Shannon, who had already zipped through 3 years of law school) had opened the fridge, retrieved her antibiotic, (which tasted like bubblegum) removed the non-safety cap and slugged down a healthy portion. Not wanting Tina to feel left out, (awww) she poured the remainder of the bottle (which we COULD NOT AFFORD) in Tina’s water dish, which she was noisily lapping up. Now Tina’s fur around her mouth (which had finally grown back to a pristine white) was sticky pink, dripping all over the floor. To her credit, she was doing her best to keep her mouth clean.
I completely freaked out! (No 911 service yet) Called Dr. Stauch’s office and by the sound of my panicked voice, the receptionist got me through immediately to Stauch. After sobbing my way through the story and missing amount of medicine, he calmly said, “Denise, it’s going to be ok. This was not a critical amount for either of them. How much does Tina weigh?” “About 7 pounds,” I stammered. “Well I suggest you get a box of Pampers (still pretty new and I used cloth diapers) for Shannon and be ready to put Tina out at a moment’s notice-frequently. They’re both gonna have diarrhea for a couple days, but that’s about the worst that’s going to happen. And Shannon probably doesn’t need a refill on the script. She might not get another bug all winter.” “Thanks Doc, appreciate your help.”
These two. Reminds me of a Travis Tritt song (ha, you didn’t think I listened to any country tunes did ya)?
Well hello T-R-O-U-B-L-E, tell me what in the world are you doin A-L-O-N-E?
Yeah, say hey good l-double O-K-I-N-G, well I smell T-R-O-U-B-L-E…