I came home from the gym yesterday and found the entire sock yarn colony running riot in the living room. At the center of the maelstrom was Dolores, holding Harry and a baby bonnet. She was apparently attempting to shove the former into the latter.
“No!” Harry screamed. “I’m not doing it! I’m not I’m not I’m not and you can’t make me!”
“But you’re gonna look so cute,” said Dolores. “Plus, if you don’t I’ll tell Franklin you’ve been sneaking into his supply of–”
“Hi, kids,” I said.
“You’re home,” said Dolores. “Good, I need a husband. Take off your sweatpants and put on those overalls and that flannel shirt. The guy who was supposed to be in the video with me just flaked out.”
“There are so many things wrong with what you’re saying.”
“And when the producers ask, it was my demure and yielding nature that first attracted you to me.”
“The more you say,” I said. “the less I understand what the hell is going on.”
With a piercing squeak Harry wriggled free of Dolores and sped across the room, seeking refuge under the coffee table.
“She wants us to be on television,” he panted. “She wants to make a video and send it to show business and say we’re a great big family and we all have to be her kids and cameras will follow us into the bathroom! Tell her she’s not allowed!”
“And I have to pretend to be the cute baby! I don’t wanna be the baby!”
“Stop whining,” said Stan, who was twirling around the rug in a pigtailed red wig and an extremely small organza print dress. “I think it’s a neat idea.”
“You’re only saying that because you get to be the sexy eldest daughter on the verge of womanhood!”
“I can’t help it,” said Stan, “that I happen to have photogenic cheekbones and winsome charm. And that you’re chubby and lisp when you get nervous.”
“Shut up, Stan!” said Harry.
“I prefer to be called Liesl,” said Stan.
Harry grabbed for Stan’s wig, and I was forced to send them to opposite corners. Dolores, meanwhile, retreated to the bedroom and returned wearing a gingham smock and carrying a nosegay of petunias.
“Why aren’t you dressed?” she snapped. “Where's your flannel shirt? They’ll be here any minute to shoot our promotional tape. We have to look like a hard-working, all-American family. Butch it up.”
She turned to the sock yarn.
“Now, I need all our little blessings on the sofa. And remember: you’re so happy, but you’d be even happier with a new luxury SUV and a bigger house.”
Harry broke ranks and headed for the front door.
“Have fun, guys. I’m going to the movies.”
“Get back here, blessing,” cooed Dolores, “Or Mama will feed you to the fricking alley cats.”
“Hold the phone,” I said. “You promised me we were finished with this sort of thing. Remember your first day on The Bachelor? You’re lucky they agreed to just scrap the footage and settle out of court.”
“I believe my actions have proven to be justified,” she said. “That guy deserved a hoof up his tuchus.”
“You weren't even supposed to be on the set.”
"Petty details bore me."
"Forget it, Dolores."
“You’re crazy,” she said. “Don’t you ever watch television? Hyperfertility is where it’s at. This is the moment! We don’t even need to get a show deal. All we need is four minutes on The Today Show with Matt Lauer, talking about how having forty colorful children has enriched us in spite of our poverty, and we’re golden. People would be throwing free stuff at us. We could get outta this dump in a week and move into one of those Extreme Home Makeover palaces with a designer kitchen and a petting zoo.”
She sniffled into her nosegay. “Don’t do it for me, darling. Think of…our children.”
“Please, Papa,” said Stan. “Please, may I have a petting zoo?”
“Go to your room, Liesl,” I said.
“Never mind him,” said Dolores to Stan. “He has no vision. We’ll just have to do this on our own. Straighten your wig and chuck me some flannel. I heard The Amazing Race is trying to book a lesbian couple.”