To our new friends, this letter came about in 1999 when our son was born and I made the colossal mistake of writing a heartfelt letter to which Robb was appalled. People, he said, don’t really like those feel-good letters. They want to know that our lives are so insufferable that, by comparisons, everyone else is pretty good. So – this letter is for you!
This year started out with me setting up a doctor appointment for Robb. He does not like doctors because they touch people. I thought this one might be safe as this had to do with Robb’s inability to sleep. Reluctantly, he agreed but now refers to that appointment as “that time you tricked me.” He did a sleep test but then traveled so much he needed me to get the results. HIPA prevented it. He replied: “I just need to know if this is just them giving me the results, me calling them names and demanding my money back, them calling the police, me destroying the office in a rage, and then hustling out to my truck and doing burnouts in their parking lot before speeding home.” Um.
Kerri graduated with top honors at Texas A&M and had decided to remain in College Station until she and her fiancé, Kyle Beckman, got married (coming nuptials – April 16th, 2016) but a horrifying roommate incident brought her home to live with us. One day she asked, “Why is it so hard for me to put pants on?” She continues to search for a job. Also, Kyle, our son-in-law to be was overheard singing Demi Lovato’s song “What’s Wrong with Being Confident?” only Kyle thought it was “Competent” which was a little alarming to Robb that Kyle would be singing a Demi Lovato song but he has a job so we’re letting it go. And really, what is wrong with being competent?
Robb was horrified to learn that he is expected to dance at Kerri’s wedding. Actually, he was first alarmed to learn that he is expected to wear a tux. Real men don’t wear tuxedos – except James Bond and that’s only because it’s a disguise. But Robb won’t be in disguise so, therefore, the whole tux-cool thing won’t work. But the dancing thing is very, very bad. Real men don’t dance. Also, real men don’t wear jeans with any kind of design on the back pocket, they don’t use any kind of clippers to “do” their nails. Also men do not publicly smile as this can be misinterpreted as some kind of weakness and thus his usual aversion to restaurants because it’s hard to scowl and eat at the same time. He does, however, want to have his own restaurant. It would go like this: It would be called “Pretty Good Food,” where you could order anything you want but you only get what he gives you. He’d let you prattle on and on about your dressing on the side or your triple venti soy-based blah, blah or your organic free-range chicken. He would nod agreeable to whatever you ordered and then serve you whatever he felt like giving you and you would eat it. Also, he would not be vegan or vegetarian-friendly as he doesn’t trust people who do not eat meat. After more than 20 years, Robb is only now warming up to the idea that Michelle’s (sister) strict vegetarian lifestyle might be for real. And she recently earned serious brownie points when, on Black Friday, a sports store had a sale of bullets he wanted but it was limited two boxes per customer and Michelle bought him two! This was after she made him promise that no elk, deer, moose, or bear would be killed. He agreed but I don’t think he was listening.
I told him a dozen times I was going to Denver to speak at a conference. It was a huge deal but this was still a surprise to him. For what, he wanted to know. “To talk about environmental health.” With who? “To a bunch of doctors,” I said. There were more than 15,000 physicians and scientists at the International Thoracic Society convention. He chuckled and shook his head. “I don’t think so … I saw Thoracic Park and there were no doctors in it.”
It seemed like a good idea to have all three kids get their wisdom teeth out at the exact same time. I’m all for being efficient. In recovery, one kid woke singing classical, another (incoherently) wanted her cell phone to (incoherently) post on social media, the other kid stood straight up on the bed and was ready to fight to go home. I have to tell you when the nurse backed up so I could step in the take his wrist and he did a counter martial arts move on my grip I was strangely proud. I’ll let you figure out who was who. Hint: In the parking lot, he broke away from the nurse and ran to his sisters to hug them. He’s a flight risk but he’s loving. Recovery was not nearly so cute.
After paying $600 to repair’s Katie’s clunker car, it broke down in Tyler, Texas and in a fit of rage, she threw her keys into the nearby woods because this is what you do when you’re trying to be as helpful as possible. Only, on the keychain was Kerri’s house key so they were forced to crawl through the doggy door each time they wanted to re-enter. I really don’t know if Katie is still crawling through dog door. Katie has developed her own language while talking to her dog. We’re not sure if she realizes we can hear her. She (112 lbs) likes to ride behind her dog (100 lbs) on her skateboard. Katie had three broken ribs this year.
At 16, Tommy is truly not that interested in driving as it is difficult to drive while wearing your big, giant panda slippers. He is now obsessed with 1960s b-bop music and pizza rolls.
Mother’s Day this year earned me an involuntary trip to Costco’s where I was treated to the HOT DOG combo – I rebelled and got a turkey sandwich to which Robb replied, “Well, aren’t we fancy.” But victory was mine when I was finally “uninvited” to going to anymore Pawn Shops with Robb. He wanted to see if he could find a hedger for Tommy to hedge, make some summer $. We walk in. Can I help you? Robb: No. Just lookin’ around? Alex: Didn’t you say you wanted a hedger? Robb: [scowling] No.
Robb tells the story this way: Pawn Guy: Can I help you. Robb: No, just lookin’ around. Alex: But didn’t you say you wanted a hedger? Didn’t you say you would be willing to pay ANY amount of money for a hedger because that’s the only thing you want in this entire store and you haven’t been able to find a hedger anywhere else???
See, I don’t remember saying all that. I’m pretty sure I just said ‘didn’t you want a hedger.’ But if this is how this goes – I am so going to start saying things about hedgers in Costco.
I re-entered the world of higher education as Kerri exited. I’m going for my Masters (and eventual PhD) in Kinesiology as I continue my work with the special needs young adults. Robb only wanted to know if I make more money with a PhD. Saying “I’m not sure,” doesn’t seem like the right course of action so I say, “Tons!” and he is my greatest supporter. Michelle is also in school, teaching high school, and is wildly popular but horribly misunderstood. Her students cannot believe she doesn’t “have a man,” and have attempted to set her up with a “business man.” He was a stripper. During Drug-Free week, she cleverly dressed as a cigarette but everyone just thought she was a chef.
Robb has taken to using a hand pump to air up his truck tire, declaring, “I can get another 10,000 miles out of this tire!” When posed as more of a fitness challenge than favor, I can tell you from personal experience that it takes 144 solid pumps to bring his tire to standard regulation pressure. The idea of paying $1 to fill up air at a gas station is inconceivable to Robb. And don’t EVEN let him see you with a water bottle. The idea that we all pay for water is deeply disturbing to him, ESPECIALLY if he catches me with a Smart Water. I have to be faster than he is. “Hey! Hey! Look what I found. I found this Smart Water bottle that someone threw on the side of the road and just picked it up for, oh, I dunno, keeps, I guess.” He will eye me for a moment. “Welllllll, okay. If you just picked up a strangers dirty, germy water bottle then … well, I guess that’s okay.”
Our 14 year old Labrador, Pete, died and so we got Douglas, a Blue Heeler, who has brought a whole new level of insanity to our house. Hint: Heelers and stairs do not mix! While Kerri will be launching her second book this February – she did get a job and will be working with … wait for it … a Douglas and a Tommy. Katie brought her boyfriend home for Thanksgiving and I made him throw up in my Spinning class at the gym. He took a pretty hard hit the next day in football. I don’t know if we’ll see him again. This is too bad as I really like him and he got points for vomiting. Full effort, baby! Robb has agreed to try physical therapy for his shoulder but has yet to go because in physical therapy ….they touch people. After many years of successfully dodging the Main Street Gym Christmas party, Robb attended and was greeted with several, “You ARE real!” Yes, ladies and gentleman, Robb Allred really does exist. You think I could make all this up?
The year rounded out with me being called to jury duty for a stolen identity case. After six hours of jury selection, the defense lawyer asked, “Alexandra Allred, you’re a writer. What kinds of things do you write about?” Um. Ridiculously long jury selection pools? At break, the court “Google searched” me and I was politely let go. On the way home I stopped to buy food but was declined. My credit card identity was stolen. Well, I’ll be a rotten son-of-a-- Tommy took a field trip to the water refinery and is now explaining how poopy water IS my Smart Water and because he now thinks he wants to go to medical school has explained away his flatulence problem in terms “over my head,” while Kerri was part of an evacuation by police following tips about a suspicious package which led a friend to say of us: You lead such interesting lives .. but not in a good way. Hey – we’re just keepin’ it real. Hope you have a real nice new year! Love,
Robb, Alex, Kerri,Katie, Tommy
and Sadie & The Douglas