It was a wonderful service for me at church, as always, Sunday morning. On the way home with my family, I mused what it would be like if we took "Sassy," the quick-witted and sharp-tongued doll, along with us to church. I shuddered as I thought about it, envisioning her making a quip like, "I'm dressed up better than some of you folks!" Yep, that miniature miss with the mighty mouth is best left at home...unless the preacher is teaching out of James regarding the tongue, that. When I take my dog on a trip, I don't have to worry about rude comments dotting the travels.
After a quick meal, I changed into my sweat suit duds and was ready to relax for the duration of the afternoon. But, before I could position my rump on the couch and settle in, I noticed Sassy had already situated herself on the leather and was staring at me with a sullen look. "'Bout time you got here, Darrell the Barrel!" she wailed.
Rather than try to explain why Baptists have little free time between Sunday services, I chose to redirect the conversation. "I see you're starting to take a liking to me!" I said while bearing the grin of a kid barefoot in a rain puddle. "You're dressed up just like me, in gray duds!"
"Hmmmph!" she snorted. "Think again, Big Boy with an even bigger ego. Maybe it's just that you are color blind and I'm really wearing light blue...making a fashion statement."
"Sassy Sweatsuits," I moaned. "A runaway fashion goldmine in Paris next year, I'm sure," I finished saying with a snicker, as I plunked onto the couch.
"What's that you have in the big bowl?" Sassy asked, trying to stretch her neck as if she were Edgar Bergen's ventriloquist dummy, Charlie McCarthy.
"This?" I said, shaking the bowl above her head and short arms, tantalizing Sassy. "It's something good to eat on a Sunday afternoon. Popcorn."
Her eyes got wider than normal and her normal grin disappeared as her mouth turned rectangular in shape to say, "Popped corns? You EAT those things from your FEET?" She *gasped* and made fake vomiting sounds.
Retracting the bowl quickly--because my laughter was shaking my jelly belly and I was likely to spill the kettle corn over the expensive gift's blonde locks--I said, "No, no, no. First of all, I don't have 'corns.' Secondly, no one eats their corns. This is something that grows on a plant and, when heated at a high enough temperature, it 'pops' from its kernel into an edible shape."
Sassy looked at me for a second, her eyes squinting and the mouth returning to its normal shape, except with the corners turning upward (a definite sign, I've learned, of a sassy retort that is forthcoming), and teased, "Just needs heat on it, eh? What do you do, talk to it about your athletic past, Mr. Hot Air?"
I shook my head like a bobble doll thinking, "Sheesh, why DO I argue with this doll? Worse yet, why do I let her get the better of me with that three inch yap trap?" I reached over for the orange-colored bowl of popcorn I had brought for her. "Here," I said, "Want to try it?"
She stared into her bowl and, without looking up, slowly said, "It-t-t look-s like crumbled-d-d up toilet paper or something! Can I, instead, have some of those water balloons I saw you had hidden in the bottom of the drawer next to the icemaker?"
I, being a former teacher, recognized the opportunity for some quick mentoring. I changed my voice to a loving tone and say, "May. M-A-Y...I. 'Can' is a reference of whether or not you're capable of doing something, like 'Can I jump three inches off the ground? Yes, I can...I am ABLE.' 'May,' on the other hand, is what you say when you are asking permission for something."
She looked at me dumbfounded. "So, why do they call the month after April, M-A-Y, Darrell the Barrel, huh? Was someone asking permission to put it on the calendar?"
Knowing she once again had me over a barrel, I avoided trying to answer her question and, instead, said, "No, you MAY not have the water balloons. I had forgotten all about those. I know, don't bother telling me, I'll add your snide retort myself...'Too old to bend over that far!' Would you like some rubber to munch on along with this popcorn, Miss Sassy?"
She smiled, jumped up and down like a Mexican jumping bean, and yipped, "Yes! Yes! Burnt rubber, please!"
"BURNT rubber?" I queried, as my mind sprang to visions of the high school parking lot with student drivers racing off the school grounds in their cars. Then, my mind drifted to the attic, where a spare bicycle tire neatly hung from a rafter. "Okay, I think I can get you something tasty," I said, adding, "I forgot you like a diet of rubber because you're made so much of rubber."
As I walked off, I heard her mutter, softly enough to hope my deafening ears didn't pick up her words, "Yeah, and YOU look like YOU are made of rubber, too. That belly of yours bounces worse than a basketball on the moon."
I ignored her quip and headed off to the attic, brought her the tire, and handed it to her.
"Say," she began as she took the tire, "What are those labels on those boxes you like to prop your feet on?" smiling as she mouthed the words with obvious pleasure.
I knew what she was getting at. "I don't know," I said. "I'm a Baptist. I can only read during church services on Sundays. Rule, you know. The time in between is the Day of Rest." I then noticed the box I had brought for her to prop her feet on suddenly had a label, too, but I chose to ignore it (like I choose to ignore my wife's pleas to go shopping at perfume counters.)
Day of rest!" she exclaimed. "How is this, then, any different from ANY OTHER day of the week for you, Lazy?" she added, her body shaking with laughter.
"Funny," I said with a grimace, parking my body on the couch beside her, prioritizing my feet by putting them sturdily on the boxes (I call them my "ottomans"), and simultaneously churning the kettle corn into my own gaping mouth while turning on the tv with a remote.
Sassy watched me chomp for a minute, then turned her attention to the tire I had brought for her. She squealed with delight, "Treaded rubber! My favorite! Chef, Boy, are thee!"
I couldn't admit she had just spewed a pretty good little pun, there, so, instead, I just turned her own, typical quip back on her..."You write your own material?"
Popcorn bowl in hands and treaded tire firmly in mouth--like a dog's chompers on the postal carrier's pants--Sassy happily chewed and gobbled the treat. I changed the channel to find a football game. She stopped chewing for a second, let go of her own popcorn bowl, and reached over, ever-so-slowly, for the remote control.
"Don't E-V-E-N think about it!" I bellowed. "Football on Sundays is a ritual."
"Maybe I was just eyeballing the nice, little, tasty-looking rubber buttons on it," she teased back.
"Yeah, right, kiddo. Remember," I asked her, "What happened to Eve when she saw something she knew she shouldn't eat but did, anyway?"
She turned back to eating.
Soon, we both had gobbled up all our snacks.
"Barrel," she said, once again leading, purposely, with a mispronunciation of my first name, "What does 'Honey Do' mean?"
I closed my eyes, leaned back farther into the embrace of the puffy couch, and said, "Nothing. It's a type of melon. The boxes probably had melons in them. Leave me alone, Girl! It's time for another Sunday afternoon ritual," I griped.
"What's that?" she asked immediately.
I don't think I answered her. I was already drifting into a state of semi-consciousness as I began my nap. The last thing I remember was the pint-sized pipsqueak saying, "Yup. Not surprised. He does the same thing when his wife is talking to him at night..."
Another loving moment shared, one Sunday, between Sassy and 'Darrell the Barrel' (her favorite target of her terse witticisms).