My Week 34: Ken Is Sometimes Right, and Frank The Stuffed Fish

Monday: I consider the times that Ken has been right about something

Last weekend, Ken and I had a heated “debate” over whether or not to put our gigantic potted hibiscus outside for the summer. I was sick of looking at its skeletal branches, and the accumulation of dead leaves that never seemed to disappear no matter how many times I swept around it. Don’t get me wrong—it’s a great hibiscus. Ken’s mom gave it to us years ago, and when it blooms in the summer, it’s beautiful. The rest of the year, though, it’s ‘dormant’, which is to say that it looks like it belongs on a compost heap. Anyway, last week, I was super-stressed about how messy the house was, and wanted to do some major spring cleaning, so I asked Ken to take the hibiscus outside to the courtyard, but he said NO, on the grounds that it was still too cold, and the weather was unpredictable. “It’s the middle of May,” I said. “It’s the long weekend. You’re being ridiculous. Put the damn hibiscus outside.” But he continued to refuse, telling me that we “could still get frost” because technically, the long weekend was early this year, blah, blah, blah, until I got very pissed off and announced that he was negating my feelings, to which he replied that I was negating the hibiscus or some nonsense like that. So the hibiscus remained in the house, not because I thought Ken was right but because the damn plant was too heavy for me to carry by myself; otherwise, it would have been out on its ass. Then on Tuesday, the weather network announced that the temperatures were going down, and we were in for frost on Wednesday. So Ken was right after all. He was very gracious about it, only stabbing his fingers triumphantly at me and yelling “HA! HA!” a few times over the course of the day.
This may seem like a strange reaction, but the truth is that sometimes Ken is ‘incorrect’ about things. Case in point: at our last house, we were suddenly invaded by beavers, who started damming up our creek. When I said that I thought we should pull down the dam so they would move on, Ken got really upset. “They’re a beautiful part of the natural world,” he said, and he spent many hours taking pictures of them and marvelling at the industrious way they were taking down our trees. Eventually, however, the dam was 40 feet wide, and the neighbours upstream were getting flooded out of their backyards, so instead of taking down a very small dam until they moved on to somewhere else, we had to hire someone at our own expense to blow it up and trap the beavers, who were quite numerous at this point. The guy we hired was very efficient, AND enthusiastic. He called me one afternoon and this was the conversation:

Beaver Guy: I got some beauties today! A huge one and some babies. You should bring your little boy to see them.
Me: Are they dangerous? Are they in cages or just running around?
Beaver Guy: Heck no! They’re dead!

Apparently, you can’t ‘relocate’ a huge colony of beavers, because the other beaver colonies get mad, and then you have beaver wars and such. Needless to say, I opted NOT to take my 3 year-old to see baby animal corpses. There are many, many other examples of Ken being obstinate and ‘incorrect’ with expensive and disastrous consequences, but I realized after the hibiscus incident, that sometimes he IS actually right about things, so here’s a list.

1) “You shouldn’t wear flip flops while you’re power-washing the bricks in the courtyard with a gas-powered sprayer. Seriously—put on some shoes.”

I scoffed at him when he said this, and assured him that I would be careful. What did he know, wussy that he was in his steel-toed work boots? Then I was in a tight corner, went to turn around, swiped the power wand accidentally over my toes, dropped to the ground and started screaming. Apparently, if it can take the dirt off a patio stone in a fraction of a second, it can also flay the skin off your toes almost down to the bone in the same amount of time. But he didn’t say ‘I told you so’, because he was too busy wiping my tears, gently cleaning the dirt out of my wounds, and reassuring the neighbours that I WASN’T dying.

2) “You don’t need a new car—we’ll just get snow tires.”

I’d never had snow tires in my life, and was a huge skeptic about them, believing that it was just a marketing ploy to make people buy extra tires that they didn’t actually need, as well as ugly rims that would ruin the look of my adorable sports car. But after sliding all over the road one day, and finding out that I could pay a little extra and have snow tires put on my awesome sports rims, I decided to try them. Ken was right. They work. Enough said.

3) “I don’t think the kids in this town are THAT well-supervised.”

This was in reference to the town where we have our cottage. I was going on about how happy the kids in town look, always laughing and playing together on their lawns.
“Their parents must take really good care of them—they seem so well-adjusted,” I remarked to Ken one day.
“Yeah,” he said, “except when they let them go out on the middle of the lake in small rowboats without life jackets and then the boat capsizes.”
“That’s only happened two times. Maybe three,” I said.
Then, I was driving home from the garden centre, and I saw this scene: a little boy, around 3 years old, lying on his stomach in the middle of the lawn, while an older boy, around 7 or 8, drove a full-sized John Deere front-end loader IN CIRCLES AROUND HIM. There were no adults in sight. But the kids WERE laughing in a very well-adjusted way.

4) “You need to slow down with the drinking.”

Ken doesn’t say this to me very often, since I’m pretty good at pacing myself, but when he DOES say it, I’ve learned to listen. Otherwise, I’m challenging people very aggressively to arm-wrestling contests, or calling people to find out if I was still dressed when they left my 40th birthday party.

5) “There are only 3 fish in that pond.”

Ken said this to me a couple of days ago, when I was looking in the pond and could only see three fish.
Me: No, there are four.
Ken: No, there are only three.
Me: Don’t be ridiculous. I told you yesterday that there were four. I saw them with my own eyes, all at the same time, while you were cleaning the pump.
Ken: Nope, just three.
Me: WHAT DID YOU DO?!

It turns out that the day before, when Ken was cleaning the pond pump, he happened to mention that the screen wasn’t on the pump. I told him he needed to find it and put it back on; otherwise, one of the fish could get sucked in and die. “That won’t happen,” said Ken, knowingly. So technically, being wrong about the pump made him right about the fish, which just might result in this one being cancelled out.
At any rate, he was right about the hibiscus, so this past Friday, when he finally took the damn thing outside, I didn’t scoff when he opened our big patio umbrella over the hibiscus, in a very motherly way, to protect it from any future frost or windburn.

Wednesday: I catch a fish

This past week, our town had “Large Item Pick-up”. I refer to this as “Big Junk Day”. It’s one of my favourite days of the year, aside from Christmas and birthdays, because it’s another day where you can give things to people and you can get free stuff yourself. Ken and T are NOT fans of driving around town, looking through piles of other peoples’ junk, but when there’s treasure to be had, I can be pretty manipulative. I convinced T that he needed to practice driving, so I made him take me to the gas station, then insisted that he turn right and go around the block before we went home. It wasn’t until I shouted, “Slow down here!” that he realized he was being played. “Wait a minute!” he said. “You just want me to drive you around so you can look at junk!” But we had already seen a couple of cool things, so when we got home, I convinced Ken to hook up the trailer, and we scored a china cabinet, some 2 x 8s, a vintage galvanized tub, and a garden bench. The next day, I was driving home and I saw ANOTHER china cabinet, so Ken agreed to take me down the road to get it. As we pulled up, a van pulled in behind us, kicking up gravel. Ken grabbed the china cabinet and started loading it, as young guy ran up. “Ahh, that was what I was here for,” he said sadly. You snooze; you lose, in junk-picker land, my friend. But then, he started going through a huge garbage bag and pulled out a stuffed, mounted fish. And it was awesome. I said, “You should take that—they’re very collectible,” but the guy put it back in the bag, and then drove away. Well, I thought about that fish all night, and the next day, on the way to pick up T from school, I saw its fin still sticking out of the bag. So I did what anyone would do—I pulled over and put it in the backseat. Then I was worried, because T has a habit of throwing open the back door and tossing his backpack in, and I didn’t want Frank to get hurt. This meant that as I stopped the car, I locked the door and yelled out the window, “Be careful! There’s a fish in the back!” T was with some of his friends, and they all looked kind of puzzled. Then he opened the car door, jumped back a bit and said, “Mom! What the hell!”

Me: What?
T: Why do you have a stuffed and mounted fish in the back of the car?!
Me: I found it. I’m going to sell it. His name is Frank.
T: NO ONE is going to buy a dead fish.
Me: Sure they will. Lots of people would LOVE to have a stuffed fish over their fireplace mantle.
T: Mom. Let me explain something to you. There are two types of people in this world. People who fish and DON’T hang what they catch over their mantelpiece, and people who fish and hang the fish they PERSONALLY CAUGHT over their mantelpiece. But no man should EVER mount another man’s fish….
Me: *snicker*
T: OK, yes, that sounded weird. But no one will buy it, I’m telling you.

Personally, I think T is wrong. And if you live in a small lake town which is short on taxidermists, you could very well want to mount that fish. (*snicker*)

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