Each time after helping one of the kids move, I wipe imaginary sweat from my brow, exhale deeply and announce that I am never again helping another one of them move.
"I am not helping with another move," I say in a weak voice as though I am about to faint.
"My legs are wobbly," I add for effect, hoping someone might offer me a chair.
"My moving days are over," I sigh, thinking someone will at least get me a bottled water.
Nothing. No chair, no water, no sympathy. I'm just one of the crew.
The kids treat me like I'm 20. It's been more than 30 years since I was 20. You do the math. I believe it is time that I am promoted to supervisory personnel.
Like half of Hollywood, I can honestly say, "I've always wanted to direct."
The last time I announced I was never again helping move was after I helped our youngest and two of her girlfriends move an 84-inch sofa to a third-floor apartment. We cut a corner tight on a landing and wound up squishing her friend Katie's face between the sofa and the wall.
Naturally, I would be the one to notify Katie's parents. "I think you'll still recognize her, she just looks a tad like a Dickens character, a bit elongated if you will -- as though she has tasted a really bad bowl of gruel."
Katie's face was so wedged so tight it was narrowing by the second. Unfortunately, the rest of us were laughing too hard to be of much help.
We finally got the sofa around the corner, Katie was freed and her faced returned to its normal state of pretty.
Once again I announced I was finished with heavy lifting.
And I was finished. Until last week. The youngest moved again, from one third-floor apartment to another third-floor apartment. No elevators. I was the only one available mid-afternoon to help get a new table and chairs, still in boxes and unassembled, from the back of a borrowed truck before it began to rain.
Did you know that you cannot roll a square table? You did, didn't you?
We should have known it, too. But the table was heavy and the rain was coming. We slid it from the truck bed and rolled it gently end over end. There was no way we could get it in the building, let alone haul it up to the third floor.
Someone may have raised her voice about someone else being too cheap to pay a delivery fee. I don't remember who, but it might have been me. In any case, a young man mowing the grounds hopped off his riding mower and asked if he could help.
He told us to stand back, picked up the 115-pound table-in-a-box up and trotted up three flights of stairs like he was toting a loaf of bread and gallon of milk.
I wish I had gotten his number. I'd like him to sub for me the next time one of the kids move.
I think he was 20.
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