One of the beneficial side effects of my new employment as a night stocker at a grocery store is that I get to listen to books on my ipod. They are technically podcasts of classic books that are in the public domain and read by volunteers--in other words, free. I have been enlightening myself with books that I have never had the heart to pick up and read. I have already listened to Wuthering Heights, Crime and Punishment, and War and Peace. Most recently I have been listening to The Count of Monte Cristo, and it has given form to my own thoughts of vengeance.
For anyone who has not read The Count of Monte Cristo, it is the ultimate story of revenge. The shortest summary I can achieve goes like this: A man is condemned to life in a dungeon by his jealous counterparts, suffers fourteen years of imprisonment where he is educated by a fellow prisoner and given a map to a buried treasure. The other prisoner dies, the man escapes, finds his treasure, which he uses over the course of many years to exact revenge on the men who betrayed him.
I am about to go off on a fantasy of revenge, but please understand that I don't equate anything of my life or my revenge with the good Count--I just need to think there will be payback someday. (Yes, Mom, I know you are enjoying yours right now)
Someday, when IR is old enough, I am going to make her start cooking and doing dishes. I can only imagine what she will be like, but I know what I am going to say. IR is going to come in, after some sort of practice and plop down on the couch. “Hi sweetie how was your day?” I will ask.
“Fine.” She will answer and not take her eyes off the TV. It will probably be Access Entertainment Hollywood Inside hosted by some child star whose career was revived by the Dancing With the Stars of past Dancing with the Stars where past contestants of Dancing With the Stars partner with a new b-level celebrity and are coached by the aging professional dancers.
“I’m hungry.” I will sit down next to her and change the channel to Wheel of Fortune. Pat Sajak will just do intros and commentary at this point, because it will take him too long to remember if there is an E in “Riding in a Solar Car”.
“So, eat something.”
“I want you to make me dinner.”
“Seriously?” She will take back the remote and change it back to her show. We will sit and watch while Will Smith’s three-year-old granddaughter, Willowina is photographed on the red carpet as an oscar nominee at the Academy Awards. “You are just telling me to make you dinner?”
“Please make me dinner?” She will sit for another five minutes while Willowina tells the interviewer that she has wanted an Oscar since she was little.
“What do you want?”
“I don’t know.”
“You just want me to make something?”
“Yes, and I’m hungry, so could you do it now?”
“Right now. Okay.” She will drop the remote on the couch and stomp into the kitchen and she will close cabinet doors a little too hard and stand for too long in front of the open refrigerator. I will hear her running some water and she will come back in and sit down again.
“What are you making?”
“I don’t want spaghetti.”
“Are you being serious?”
“I don’t want spaghetti.”
“Well, that is what I"m making, because you didn’t tell me what you wanted.”
As an added measure I will ask for buttered bread and salad and not eat the salad and I will ask for seconds of spaghetti and not eat it. I will also use at least two forks and a spoon and I will find a way to dirty two butter knives. I will then proceed to get up and watch TV and then throw a fit when she cleans up my dishes. I will proclaim that I was not done eating and that I want more spaghetti. I could do that every night for five years and it still wouldn’t be even.
The second chore that my daughters will be tasked with is the laundry. They will start by doing their own clothes, but I will let them do mine as well. I fear they will play the same trick I did on my wife’s clothes that I did when we first got married. Yes, I shrunk a few sweaters on purpose. I am not proud of it. I was young and stupid--something my daughters will also be. I picture my daughter ML at the wonderful age of fifteen, coming home from school and so excited to see me. She will run up the stairs and give me a big hug and tell me how much she missed me. She will also tell me about her day and how she aced her quiz on The Grapes of Wrath because we talked about it after she read it. Yes, this is a fantasy.
But this will actually have to happen on a day we spend together. It will be a Saturday morning. I will walk into her room and throw off her covers.
“What are you doing? Its Saturday get out!” She will put her pillow over her face and turn on her side away from me.
“Get up, its laundry day.”
“So. Go do the laundry.”
“It’s your job now, so get to it.” I will continue this wonderful new day for ML by taking my shirt off and putting it in the hamper.
“Why did you do that?” She will ask.
“I just wanted to.” I will answer and go get a new shirt. Later I will accidentally drip some milk from my cereal onto my shirt and be forced to go upstairs and get yet another new shirt.
“Did you do that on purpose?”
“Of course not.” I will have to be careful here, because both of my girls will have been subjected to more than ten years of my almost constant sarcasm. IR already calls me on it sometimes.
I will spend the rest of the day stepping in puddles, wiping my Cheeto fingers on my pants, eating waffles with too much syrup, and other things of the sort. I will also buy three sets of pajamas and refuse to wear them more than one night in a row.
Is my pain and suffering on anywhere near the same level as the good Count of Monte Cristo? No, of course not, but when you have committed yourself to the care of tiny people whose brains are developing in unpredictable ways, strange things can happen to you. For example, you might find yourself fantasizing about being the father of teenage girls. What I have discovered about The Count of Monte Cristo is that it is as much about love as it is about revenge, so I don't feel so bad about plotting my vengeance on two of the three people I love most.