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My Golden Years This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Alice screamed, “Jerry! Jerry! Say something! Oh, Lord don’t leave me now. You can’t!” I wanted to tell her it was okay, and to reach up and wipe away the tears of worry. And by gosh I tried, but couldn’t. And then - nothing.

It started out as one of those lazy, darn tootin’ hot Saturday mornings. I went downstairs looking for my lovely, smart, and doing-the-best-for-me wife. (And by that I mean over-compulsive, fun-sucker-out-of woman I’m married to.) I truly love her but she drives me up the haystack with her “Need to get healthy” this and her “Be more sensitive” that. It’s just a load of bologna. I mean if men are supposed to be feminine, why are all of those touchy-feely movies called chick flicks? It just ain’t a real movie unless somethin’ blows up!

Well, I went downstairs to go find my lovely pain-on-wheels, and my Rice Crispies on the table. But instead I found the worst thing possible! Nothin’ - just a note:

Dear Jerry,

Our couples knitting class is at noon today, so please be ready by the time I come back from the market. Your cereal is in a blue bowl in the fridge, just add milk.

Alice

And I just says to myself, Jerry, why don’t she just put you in a pink frilly dress, and put some o’ that beauty paint on your face! I got my cereal out of the fridge, and sat down in my chair and watched golfing on the TV for a while.

Talkin’ of beauty paint, I told my daughter Ally-Sue (the eldest at 17, and the flippin’ moodiest one) to throw that stuff out. So I went upstairs to see if she threw that lip smear out. I knocked on the door and all I hear is, “Leave me alone! Can’t I get any privacy around here?!” I said sorry and went where it was safe, downstairs.

My other daughter, the sweet one, is 13 and at some girly daisy flower camp thing, so it’s just me and the most frightnin’ things east of the Mississippi. I sat there thinking of a few more brilliant idears. Which, you know, really hurts the old thinker, and, since I’d been thinkin’ so much today, I decided to doze off.

“Jerry Jingleheimer, you better get up this instant! Oh, I swear I just don’t know what to do with you anymore. Get up, and get dressed before we’re late!” harassed the smarter, more mature one. I went upstairs to make myself all purty.

When I came back down it was already a quarter to noon. We told Ally to behave herself while we’re gone. We got in my Ford pick-up, and headed to the downtown. Alice sat there putting on her beauty paint in the magical mirror I never knew I had. She looked at me and asked how she looked, and without lookin’, I replied what she wanted to hear, “Thin, very not fat.” She just rolled her eyes and looked away.

We arrived, and all of those other poor soldiers dragged along like prisoners of war looked up as we walked in. The instructor handed out materials and gave directions on what to do. I sat there and I tried and kept sayin’, “The rabbit goes around the tree, down, up, and around.” I tried and tried but this stupid thing just wasn’t workin’, must’ve been broke.

So, I said to the instructor, Mrs. White, “Why do I gets a broke one?”

“It’s not broken, Mr. Jingleheimer, you’re just not doing it right,” she replied slowly.

“I did everything you told me to do, and it ain’t working, so it’s broke!”

“Mr. Jingleheimer, maybe if you calmed down, I could help you, or you could ask your wife, she seems to get it.”

Oh, that was the last straw! I gave her a stern talkin’ to, but I don’t really remember what I said. Thank heaven no one from the law department was there or we’d be in that anger management class again. Alice didn’t talk or look at me the whole way home. Peace at last.

When we pulled up in our driveway, I got it. She screamed things like “Jerry, how could you!” and “I don’t know why I even bother!” Well, it ain’t my fault she gave me broke equipment. By the time she was done my blood was as hot as the sun. So hot I felt light-headed. We walked inside and saw something no father should ever see happen to his little girl.

We weren’t supposed to be home for another two hours. My little Ally-Sue was sittin’ there eatin’ the face of our good church-goin’ neighbor’s son. Why, I reached for the boy’s throat and almost got there, except Ally pushed me away and said, “No, Daddy, it’s okay!” But, no, it’s not. I swear I’ll kill that boy if he ever looks at her again. But all of the sudden I felt funny and fell to the floor.

My left arm was all tingly, and I saw flashing lights and heard screams and cries. Then things went as dark and silent as coal. That’s when I knew I had a heart attack.

I woke up in a white room with a purty nurse checkin’ my arm tube. And I thinks, Why, I should come here more often if this is how I get treated. And then I dozed off and dreamed of a world where I was always right.

I woke up again with the only two angels in this part of Mississippi. One with blond bouncy hair, the other brown, straight locks. They both had the waterworks goin’, and I never was happier to see the perfect women in my life.

“Daddy, I’m sorry. This is all my fault and ...,” Ally sputtered and then looked at me and I saw how sorry she was. And I looked at her with those love bugs in my eyes and felt her love warm me up. I tilted toward my smart and beautiful Alice, whom I don’t deserve. And now truly everything was perfect.

And I should listen to my beloved wife, because most of the time she is right. But for now all is quiet, and all is well. And my guardian angels are protecting my golden years.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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