So, after an extremely productive holiday-countdown day at work, I left about 15 minutes early to get a head start on my afternoon nap. Hadn’t been zonked out 15 minutes when the doorbell rang.
Instantly I cursed SkipMagic; what sex toys had he been mail-ordering this time, thereby subjecting me to funny looks from the mail carrier?
When I opened the door, I thought, "Wow, the Postal Service sure takes 'em young nowadays . . . "
Before me stood a cherubic teenaged boy with a rake (the garden tool kind) in hand. He bore no mail-order sex toys, but instead asked if I’d mind if he and his friends raked some of our leaves. “Or,” he asked hesitantly when I failed to answer immediately, “do you want them there?”
“Uh . . . NO,” I said. "I don’t want them there (and for the last two weekends running, I added in my head, my husband and I have discussed raking them, but never got past the discussion because we’re lazy gits) . . .
" . . . but I don’t have any cash." (The cash part I added aloud.)
“That’s OK,” he smiled and, just as I expected him to whip out a credit card machine, he said, “It’s free–we’re doing it for our church. We’ll bag them for you, and everything.”
“OH!” I said, perhaps a bit too enthusiastically. “Well, then, sure, I’d love for you to rake them!” and headed back to bed.
But I couldn’t sleep. Partially because the dogs were not too keen on having strange boys in our backyard, and so would not stop barking, and partially because I felt this boon in teenage labor was undeserved. I mean, we aren’t elderly or disabled or anything . . . we’re just lazy gits.
I lay there for awhile longer, trying to convince myself that this was my karmic reward for agreeing to participate in an Adopt-A-Family program at work. Or maybe, I pathetically hoped, these are boys who did something bad (like on Halloween!) and this is their penance. Yeah, that must be it! So it’s OK that I’m totally taking advantage of them!
But it didn’t work; I was still awash in guilt. Then I thought of a solution! I went to the kitchen and found styrofoam cups and enough milk and hot chocolate mix for six people (I peeped through the blinds and counted: exactly six of them, but that one kid in the red sweatshirt might not count–he wasn’t close enough for me to tell if he was actually raking or just happened to be walking by and stopped to take a leak or something)! I could repay this debt in some small way!
I opened the back door and called out to ask if they’d like some hot chocolate.
“No thanks,” panted one boy, red-faced from cold and hard work, as he bent over to scoop a giant pile of leaves into a bag. “But thank you, though.”
“I just feel so guilty!” I wailed, completely losing the air of total cool that endears me to teenagers everywhere. “You’re working so hard, and that’s a LOT of leaves!”
“We’re happy to do it,” he panted back.
“Well, OK,” I said, and commenced piling heaps of praise and appreciation on the young lads before turning back inside and telling them to knock if they changed their minds about the hot chocolate.
About 20 minutes later, I did hear a knock on the door.
For hot chocolate? NO. A different red-faced boy was knocking to ask if I wanted him to take the bags full of leaves that Skip and I had raked up a couple of weekends earlier (the garbage collectors wouldn’t take them, so we’d piled them on the back porch until we got it together to dispose of them ourselves) with them as they went!
“You are being TOO GOOD to me!” I cried, explaining (mostly out of guilt) the situation with the garbage collectors.
“No problem,” he smiled, and turned away to do my dirty work.
I love little boys.
But, uh . . . this doesn’t mean I’m going to have to go to church now, does it?