Columnist can still be surprised

Most of us live our lives in kind of a comfortable rut. We tend to have favorite foods, favorite clothes, and favorite places, all made customary by long habits. Every now and then, though, something happens to jar us out of our comfy humdrum day. Sometimes you hear something you never expected to hear in all your born days.

Darling hubby insists that he was shocked in this way when I said “yes” to his marriage proposal. Personally, I never expected to hear “Congratulations on your Black Belt in TaeKwonDo,” since until recently, TKD was something that happened to other people. Indeed, my own son insisting that he was growing a beard at age 9, and the hilarity which ensued, was another of those moments. All of them tend to pale in comparison to the one Hubs laid on me this week.

We were just finishing up at the TaeKwonDo studio after a pretty strenuous workout. We were doing what we usually do, talking and joking with the other martial artists as we changed into our street clothes and got ready to go home. As I flexed sore muscles in an attempt to put my socks back on, I heard Hubs say something out of the corner of my ear, so to speak. I heard something to do with tweezers. “HUH?” I asked intelligently.

“I said,” he replied with exaggerated patience, “We need to get a tweezer and get the lead out of Arthur’s butt.”

Since I’m used to his customarily deadpan delivery of bad jokes, and indeed, his face was the deadest of pans, I smiled and laughed dutifully, finished putting on my shoes, and grabbed my gear to go home. Upon arriving at home, I made a beeline for the sock machine, intending to get a start on the waiting list of socks that somehow had piled up when I wasn’t looking. Darling daughter was in her room, Darling Son was in the shower, Darling Hubs was checking facebook, and I was knuckle deep in yarn. Just like most evenings around here.

Soon though, I looked up and my boy was sitting under one of the high wattage lights I usually use for knitting, with Scott peering at his leg. “Hey dear, can you come look at this?” Mind you, my son is a kid who isn’t any stranger to various and sundry mishaps. He’s stepped on nails, been bitten and stung by all kinds of bugs, and seems to carry an internal magnet for splinters. Wondering what it could possibly be this time, I headed over.

I will probably never understand how a boy fresh out of the shower can have smelly feet, but indeed it is possible. Breathing gingerly, I inspected the expanse of upper thigh, indeed almost butt, on display before me. There was a large black dot which, I was informed, was pencil lead. Said lead had supposedly gotten there when Darling Son had sat upon his pencil, a feat which I couldn’t quite reconstruct in my mind. Still, being the good triage nurse all mothers seem to become, I attempted to remove the lead.

After multiple indrawn breaths, hisses, and flinching, the lead still wasn’t going to budge. The boy was being an incredible trooper about it, even suggesting using an old dosage syringe to produce a vacuum to draw the object out. Good idea, but ineffective in this case. This was a job for someone with access to sharper objects than I had, and local anesthetic.

Mind you, I try very hard to not laugh at the misfortune of others. Still, describing the circumstances to both the appointment lady at the clinic and the secretary at school, it was almost impossible for any of us to contain our hilarity. We all tended to assume, having knowledge of fifth-grade boys, that he had probably been horsing around and gotten stabbed. I went to pick him up from school and head over to the clinic, and soon heard yet another thing I was definitely not expecting.

“Mom,” he said, “I forgot to put on underwear this morning.”

I stared at him, mouth agape. Naturally, I began to lecture him about wearing clean underwear in case of a car wreck…and realized we were in somewhat of a similar situation, with three minutes remaining to get to the appointment. Well, I thought, he doesn’t have anything they haven’t seen before. Then he grinned hugely at me and said “I’m Captain No Underpants!”

Maybe I flatter myself that we are unique in the amount of humor we can bring to a doctor’s appointment. As it was, we both walked in guffawing about Captain No Underpants. Soon enough, the whole story about the pencil was told—it had been in his backpack and he sat on the backpack. After some ado about covering his underpantsless self, the doc applied the local and went in search of the rogue graphite chunk.

As it turns out, there was no lead in the wound, just coloring. Sure enough, my kid has his first tattoo. He was a real trooper in the office too, as evidenced by you reading this. He gave his permission for me to tell his story, so go easy on him if you see him.

May all of your unexpected surprises be pleasant, and if not, may you be able to find some humor in them. After all, laughter is indeed the best medicine.