Thursday, March 24, 2011

Melinda Wettles

Melinda Wettles is a nickname my wonderful husband ( see above -age 8 ) has for me. It says a whole lot without saying much of anything at all. It is a secret code word for Fred who is too Christian of a man to say nasty things out loud, so he cloaks them instead in the strange form of insult going by the name of 'Melinda Wettles'.

Who in the world is Melinda Wettles you ask? Let me try to paint a picture for you. When Fred was a young boy in school he had a group of friends. The cool kids, he tells me. They’d hang out together, play games,enjoy life, and apparently goof off a whole lot. If there was a paper to be done, they’d all ignore it. A project to be turned in, they’d wait until the last possible moment and then throw something haphazardly together, a test to be taken and no one would study- you get the picture.

In this ‘group think’ atmosphere questions like “did you get your report done?” were answered ( and supposed to be answered) with a belly laugh, and a  hardy-har- har! Goodness, do schoolwork? Why heavens NO came the expected reply. The sun is shining, the day has hours and hours left in it, and there must be better things to do than learn and work.  Once the laughter began they were all comforted by one another since they wouldn’t be the only one who had failed miserably, thus pointing not to their own lack of ambition, but obviously the teachers inability to rouse them into curiosity and academia.

There was only one problem in this dynamic, and her name was Melinda Wettles.

You see Melinda was very much accepted into this circle of ‘cool’ kids. She played as hard, and had just as much fun, and when she was supposed to, she also laughed and scoffed at the idea of turning in work. But  when it was time for the actual papers to be graded and those grades were subsuquently dispensed, Fred would whisper looking down at his own C- 

“Hey Melinda, wudja get?" 

and Melinda would quietly flash an A+ before sliding it into her own desk; turning all Fred’s hopes of being able to blame the teacher, or be comforted by the group mentality of failure, on end . Time and again Melinda somehow managed to get it all done, despite the group’s efforts to keep her suspended in the lazy kingdom they all lived so happily in.

It also told him that Melinda must be working really hard when no one else was looking to be able to keep up with all the cool kids, AND still get A’s and he could never quite figure out how she could do both.

It irked him.


It still does.

The figure of Melinda Wettles haunted Fred for his entire school career and continues to. She threw off grade curves, dashed his hopes, and yet was still so much fun to be around that he didn’t want to get rid of her entirely.

So, on a regular old day around here Fred and I may call each other about 5 or 6 times and speak for 20 seconds or so just to check in. I’ll ask him if there is anything new. He’ll say things like “ Nah-so and so called, and I am supposed to meet him on Thursday morning at 5:30am with an estimate. That’s all. Anything new with you?” And I’ll tell him about schooling for the day, and then update him on banking, and bills, 4 errands I need to run, what dinner will look like, how his parents are, and 5 varying appointments, and then we hang up.

Flash forward to Wednesday evening when we will climb into bed and he’ll say “Oh thank God I can sleep a few minutes late tomorrow” and I’ll whisper from dreamland “No you need to set the alarm for 5 to meet so ‘and so’ upon which he’ll gasp loudly and then thank God just as loudly for the reminder, as he reluctantly sets the alarm. And at 5 am the next morning he will wake up frantically and after praying his morning prayers,   he’ll walk back into the bedroom and say “I hate to wake you but I never wrote up that estimate, could you help me?” and I’ll mutter back, “Its sitting on top of the microwave with the directions to the job.” And he’ll heave a sigh of relief, and then start fumbling for his baseball cap and I’ll say “It’s on top of the dresser." And he’ll grow silent. And then I’ll hear him in the kitchen opening drawers and closing them and I’ll call out “You left the keys on the seat of your truck” and He’ll say “If Gary calls…” and I’ll cut him off with “ I already spoke with him yesterday and placed the order.” And then I’ll hear it from under his breath - as if he was still 12 years old in the class room asking “wudja get?”. Escaping his lips next will come the disparaging and contemptuous words “Melinda Wettles” as he slams the door in frustration. It is almost a cuss word for Fred. The weight it carries can be felt in the air.

And he kind of has me pegged. I was no genius in school but I held my own and actually have always liked learning. I also am mentally organized and rarely need to write things down to remember them. What Fred doesn’t see while he is hard at work building is that the second we hang up that phone and I realize he has an estimate that needs to get done, I’ll stop what I am doing and take the ten minutes to type it up before moving onto the next project. My house is generally messy, but that’s not the same as being disorganized. He also doesn’t always quite realize just how much I loathe showing up unprepared. I not only hate that feeling for myself, and Fred, and my children, I hate it for everyone around me. That embarrassing feeling of being ‘unprepared’ or ‘tardy’ is a fate worse than death to me. So I’d rather take the extra time late at night, or early in the morning, or as soon as I possibly can, to prepare myself for whatever life calls for, so I don’t have to undergo that terrible dreadful feeling of being unprepared.

This mentality is born from the realization that I have always believed I had enough inadequacies and shortcomings that were very obvious to the outsider that I didn’t need to display the ones I could actually do something about. You may fault me for not being able to 'do' Math, or my inability to find my way  across town without the help of a GPS, but you can pretty much count on me to be on time, know the subject matter, and have what you asked me to prepare- ready and waiting.

What Fred also misses is that because he is so naturally talented, it is EASY for people to excuse some of his minor imperfections. He may forget a conversation you had with him 30 seconds ago, or not remember your name 10 minutes after you meet, but if you ask him to build, or fix, or remodel, or design something, he is a master carpenter and it not only shows, it absolutely shines through. The rest of us have to at least give the impression we are paying attention to the teacher, lest we fail at life pretty miserably.So when Fred 's grimace is screaming "goody-two-shoes" at me, he fails to recognize I lack the raw talent he has been blessed with, and am making up for it by hitting all my check points along the way. So God bless me,and all the Melinda Wettles who keep the talented humans among us, slightly more humble.

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