Thursday, October 2, 2014


When I was a kid, my dad was a businessman. He worked in an office in a tall building with sharp corners and many windows and he sat at his desk and talked on the phone and also went to meetings. He had a secretary and he carried a briefcase. I could picture him sitting in his office looking at papers and sometimes looking out the window.

Every day, when he got dressed, he put on a shirt with a lot of small, white buttons and a three-piece suit which was: a pair of pants with a matching vest with other buttons and a jacket to wear over that (and I knew it was called a sport coat). He wore a tie, too. When he came down to breakfast his necktie was tied but he had always forgotten to zip his fly. This was my job, to tell him to zip his fly. I don’t know if I said, “Dad, XYZ!” but I probably did. That was what we said, “XYZ!”
It stood for, “eXamine Your Zipper!”

When I went away to sleepover camp, I would get a letter or two from my dad, which he dictated to his secretary. These letters were among the very bests thing my dad did for me, and I went to camp knowing they would come, like a prize.

Bufo Americanus, American Toad, Dutchess County, NY
Now I am a grown-up, and almost an old lady, I have a husband, who I sometimes call the Bacon Provider. He has a job in the city, and by this I mean New York City. Every day, when he gets dressed, he puts on a shirt with lots of small, white buttons. Sometimes, he carries a briefcase. He doesn’t wear a tie to work, but he does have a secretary, although she isn’t called that, she is called his assistant. He rarely forgets to zip his fly.

At the farmhouse where we spend weekends, there are toads. They’re like the size of an apple, maybe, and speckledy brown and bumpy. Toads come out on our patio and just sit there. They have grumpy, frowning little faces, and brown all over bumps, and their front feet turn in. Maybe they make a toad noise but I haven’t heard it yet.

Anyway, sometimes the toads are there when we drive up to the house, sitting in front of the garage door. Other times, when we are driving down the driveway to leave on a Sunday night, there is one of the toads, sitting in the middle of the road, not moving at all. I always stop for a toad, not wanting to squish it, and hoping that the lights from the car’s headlights will scare it away. Nope. It doesn’t move. It never does. In the face of imminent danger, it just sits there. So, my husband, the Bacon Provider, he is the one who always hops out. He is a champion of small, helpless things and he walks to the front of the car. The toad never moves. The Bacon Provider stomps on the ground, but the toad just sits there. Some toads stiffen their front legs, to make themselves look tougher. The Bacon Provider very gently nudges the toad’s butt-end with the toe of his shoe. The toad will take a single hop, but it will still be in the path of the car. He has to touch it again and again to get it safely out of the way. 

I think This is all the Bacon Provider does at his job in the city, you know: Walking in front of the car and gently encouraging the toads to get out of the way.

1 comment: