All week long Mom had been asking, “So, what do you want to do for your birthday?” All week long I’d been answering, “I don’t know.” In the back of my head I was thinking, “I’d like to do nothing for my birthday.” Not nothing as in I don’t want to do anything, but nothing like Winnie-the-Pooh means it. The kind of nothing that can be done while relaxing.
At breakfast, Papa assigned me a weedeating task and I sighed inwardly. I should have asked to do nothing. Instead a shouldered the weedeater and marched out to the tick-infested woods. And returned tick-infested. I thank the Lord that chiggers don’t bite me. And I’m immune to poison ivy. And mosquito bites vanish in a matter of hours from my skin. In the realm of ichiness, ticks are my only enemies. Usually they are easily vanquished, no matter how numerous. What followed was a shower during which I got a brilliant idea.
With Emily coming in the afternoon, wouldn’t it be lovely if she and I could go knock around town, maybe do some thrift-store shopping and just generally do nothing for the afternoon? With soggy hair and a crooked smile, I suggested my plan to Mom as she fried hamburger. I expected her to declare “What a lovely idea!” Instead she half-shook her head. “I don’t know about that,” she said. “I’m not sure if that’s a good idea or not.”
I swallowed my tongue. In fact, I think it slid all the way down the back of my throat and down through my nervous system into my left foot where it sat feeling like a heavy lead-weight. Hadn’t she been asking all week what I wanted to do? And we were doing absolutely nothing. The kind of nothing that simply means not a thing. I rounded up my scattered thoughts before I asked, “Were you planning something?” She kind of shrugged. “Not exactly. I just had a little thing I thought we might do. We’ll see about it.”
Emily was due to arrive any time when I finally ventured again to ask Mom what she was thinking. “Well,” she said, “It’s probably okay. See what Emily wants to do when she gets here.”
I bobbed my head. Emily’s pretty easy to get along with. Usually.
In came Emily. I was in the rapping mood and started talking a hundred miles an hour. “Hey! How are you? I was thinking…I know you just came from town, but would you be up for a little goofing off? We could look for some business shirts to go with those jackets you’ve got.” “Well,” said Emily, “that might be okay.” In an instant I was off again, “Oh! But before we go, look at this bag of clothes from Amber C and see if you like any.” Emily agreed and began digging through clothes while I sat by watching.
A red pick-up pulled up into our nifty little parking lot. I glanced out the window and did a double take. “That’s funny,” I knew it wasn’t Tim and Lindsey, though I was expecting them later. “It looks like…it can’t be…it…really looks like…who in the…? It is!” And that was all I said. Then I split a grin almost big enough to swallow myself. And I just stood by my bedroom door grinning as the girl scrunched in the middle seat of the pick-up stretched her long arms and climbed out.
Just a little something Mom had planned. Just a little something called Tabitha and Cliff.
“Now you can go into town if you want,” Mom flashed me a smile as she came out the door. “Were you surprised?”
I had no clue. Absolutely none. Even though a few almost hints had been dropped. Why in the world would I suspect that Tabby and Cliff were coming all the way down just for my birthday?
With Cliff’s permission to steal his wife, we piled into Emily’s car and headed into town where we pretty much did nothing. I couldn’t have had a better birthday if I’d have planned it.