Thursday, January 28, 2010

Barack follows the meandering brick walkway up to the colonial-style two-story house. He feels cheered by the fluttering ficus trees, and the rich red door flanked by clumps of vibrant daisies.

Michelle answers the bell with a short smile that barely masks her irritation. "Good morning," she says coldly. "You're two hours late. The girls will be right down."

"Good," Barack says, plucking a bit of lint off the lapel of his Ferragamo jacket. "You're certainly looking lovely."

"Thank you. I'm . . . holding it together." Michelle wipes her hands on a soiled apron. "I still haven't found a job, though, so I can really use that child support check."

"Of course," Barack says, nodding sagely. "I will definitely confer with my advisors to determine the best strategy to be taken, and the optimal time to act."

"Good morning, daddy!" yells a high-pitched voice as it scurries across the rust-colored carpet toward the door. "I can't find my other shoe!"

"Did you look under the bed?" Barack calls.

"That's where I found the first one!" Malia replies, running off.

"The girls need clothes, and school books," Michelle snaps. "Can't you just write me a check?"

"'Act in haste and repent slowly,' my beloved Granny Sarah used to say. Rest assured, though, at some point this year I will double-check my finances and determine what will be the optimal distribution of our limited funds for everyone involved."

Michelle shoots out a sigh. "Barack, you've got money, right?" He nods. "And you've got a check, and a pen?" He nods again. "Just write me a check and cut all the BS."

The two girls appear and smile at their father on the doorstep. "Don't you two look beautiful!" Barack says, crouching to their level. One after another they race outside and give him a hug.

Malia is wearing red shorts and a t-shirt. "We want to go to the park!" she cries.

Sascha looks cute in a linen blouse decorated with butterflies and prewashed jeans from Target. "No, we want to go to the mall!" she insists.

"Either place would be fine," Michelle instructs Barack. She glances out toward the street. "Hey, where's your car?"

He raises his shoulders and focuses his gaze on his ex-wife. "My automobile is currently suffering, as many of us do, from differently-abled mobility. As we speak, however, an expert in car care is debating the optimal path we might take so that the vehicle may once again regain operation and rejoin the other fine cars on the road."

"It broke down? Is that what you're saying? You took it to Mr. Goodwrench?"

"That man may be a part of the restorative process, though I believe in an effort to reach across the aisle I may ask the Pep Boys to get involved."

Michelle crosses her arms across her chest. "So how are you going to take the girls ANYWHERE?"

Barack casts wide eyes toward the trash cans on the curb like they're the Temple of Cheops. "We may not have every tool in the toolbox, but I believe if we use the tools we have wisely, we can surprise ourselves."

"'Tools'?" Michelle repeats. "Are you talking about your FEET?"

Barack casts her a thoughtful look. "As Granny Sarah told me years ago, the longest journey begins with a single step."

A hummingbird zips from the daisies to the doorway, peeks inside, then darts off. "Barack, we're thirty miles from anything. You're not getting anywhere."

Barack puts his arms around his daughters and they turn toward the road. "That's what my detractors like to claim," he calls over his shoulder. "But believe you me: what I lack in propulsion, I more than make up in momentum."

No comments: