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       Heather 101, p.1

           Jack Weyland
 
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Heather 101


  Heather 101

  Jack Weyland

  © 2012 Jack Weyland.

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means without permission in writing from the publisher, Deseret Book Company, P.O. Box 30178, Salt Lake City Utah 30178. This work is not an official publication of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The views expressed herein are the responsibility of the author and do not necessarily represent the position of the Church or of Deseret Book. Deseret Book is a registered trademark of Deseret Book Company.

  ISBN 978-1-60907-088-5(e-book)

  Table of Contents

  Mother’s Day Boot Camp

  Just Call Me Coach

  Communication Boot Camp

  What Good Is a Family Reunion Anyway?

  Extreme Daddy Time

  Guess What? We’re Having a Ward Project.

  Between Jobs

  Didn’t See That Coming

  Chapter One

  Mother’s Day Boot Camp

  My first mistake was complimenting my wife, Heather. “Hon, for Mother’s Day are you going to make that candied ham like you did last year? That was so good! Oh, the scalloped potatoes were great too!”

  She glared at me. “Jason?”

  “What?”

  “Nothing,” she said through clenched teeth and stormed out to the garden.

  I figured she just needed to commune with nature. I’m a lot like that too. That’s why I’d gone golfing with my buddies that morning.

  While she was in the garden, I sat down in front of the TV with some nachos. I’d had a hard week at work and needed a break. Kevin and Benjamin, our two oldest boys, were outside playing somewhere in the neighborhood. So that was good.

  About five minutes later, two-year-old Jimmy wandered into the living room and sat down next to me. I don’t know what he’d been eating but his messy diaper smelled gross.

  “Go see your mom,” I said. “She’ll fix you up.”

  He looked up, smiled, and then got up on my lap. The smell was more than I could take so I picked him up, went to the kitchen, opened the sliding door, and called out, “Hon, here’s Jimmy. He’s got a messy diaper. I’ll just set him outside. I know you don’t want it smelling up the house.”

  She glared at me. I set Jimmy outside, slid the door shut, and returned to my game.

  In a few minutes, Heather came inside, took Jimmy into the bathroom, and changed his diaper. On her way back outside, I asked her to get me a root beer but she must not have heard me.

  About half an hour later, it was the bottom of the ninth with two out, the bases loaded, the Yankees behind by one run. Derek Jeter was at bat. The count was three balls and two strikes. The home crowd was on their feet.

  Just then Heather came in with Jimmy in her arms. She grabbed the remote and stood in front of me, totally blocking my view.

  “This next pitch will decide the game,” the announcer said. “And here comes the pitch.”

  She hit mute on the remote. “Jason, would you care to know what Mother’s Day was like for me last year?”

  “Yeah, sure, hon. How about after the game?”

  She shook her head. “For last Mother’s Day I planned the menu! I bought and cooked the food! I set the table! After we ate, you and the kids gave me a few presents and some cards, and then I cleaned up the kitchen! That’s what happened last year!”

  “You did a great job too, hon.”

  “Do you want to know what Mother’s Day is going to be like this year?”

  “Yes, ma’am.”

  “You will plan the dinner! You will buy the food! You will cook the food! You and the kids will set the table! We will eat and then you and the kids will give me presents! And then you and the kids will clean up the kitchen and put the food away. You got that?”

  “You know what? You’re right. You need a rest. How about if we eat out instead?”

  “Let me tell you something! We will not go to a restaurant on Mother’s Day! And you will not order in the night before!”

  “Okay, sure, hon, no problem. What would you like? Maybe a frozen pizza?”

  “I want you to cook!”

  “I can’t cook. What would I cook?”

  “That’s up to you! You’re in charge of planning the meal. That’s all I have to say on the subject.”

  “Whatever you say. Now could you give me the remote and step out of the way? I’d kind of like to see how the game turned out.”

  “Do you really think you’ve got time for that? Mother’s Day is only two weeks away.”

  I sat down at the kitchen table and pretended to plan the menu. It soon became clear I needed help, so I walked half a block down the street to my cousin Cody’s house. Not because I thought Cody would have any ideas about what to have for Mother’s Day, but his wife Amanda is a great cook.

  I found them cleaning out their garage. I told them about Heather freaking out.

  “So what do you want from us?” Cody asked.

  “Well, the thing is, I don’t know to cook, so, uh . . . actually, Amanda, I was wondering if maybe, when you’re fixing dinner for Mother’s Day, if you could do it the night before, and maybe cook enough for both our families, and then I’d come over when Heather was gone and sneak the food into our house. I might even mess up some pots so she’ll think I’ve done it all.”

  Amanda’s eyes got wide. “You want me to cook dinner for your family for Mother’s Day?”

  “Yeah, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble. Of course I’d kick in money for the food and, oh, also a little for your time.”

  She turned to Cody. “You know what? Heather’s on the right track. So let me tell you now that I’m not cooking on Mother’s Day, either. It’s all up to you two. What do you think you’ll have?”

  “How about some nice fried chicken from that new place down the road?” Cody asked.

  “I thought about that too,” I said, “but Heather says she doesn’t want me buying anything on Sunday.”

  “We could get it on Saturday,” Cody said.

  “I thought of that too, but Heather says that would be too easy. She wants me to cook.”

  Amanda nodded. “That’s what I want too, Cody. You’re in charge of breakfast, lunch, and dinner for Mother’s Day.”

  Cody glared at me. “Could we step outside for a minute?”

  We went in the front yard. “Thanks for ruining my life!” he said bitterly.

  “How could I know Amanda was going to freak out too?” I asked. “What are we going to do?”

  “I have no idea,” he said.

  “I didn’t sign up for this when I got married,” I said. “I don’t go around telling Heather she has to clean the garage for Father’s Day! So where does she get off telling me I have to cook on Mother’s Day?”

  “Exactly.”

  After a long pause, I sighed. “You know we’re going to have to do this, don’t you?”

  “Yeah, I know. So what do we do?” he said.

  “Well, for one thing, we don’t ask any other wives to bail us out. If this snowballed, I’d end up being universally hated by all the fathers in the ward.”

  “We got to get someone to teach us how to cook something,” Cody said.

  “Who?” I asked.

  “Let me think,” he said.

  “While you’re thinking, how about if we go to the driving range?” I asked.

  On our third bucket of balls, Cody came up with a possible solution. “Okay, I’ve got it. There’s a guy at work whose aunt cooks at the county jail. Let me ask him if she’d be willing to teach us how to cook something for dinner on Mother’s Day.”

  “Sounds good.” A few minutes later I dropped Cody off at his house.

  An hour later he
called me and said he’d set it up. We’d each pay this woman twenty dollars to give us a cooking lesson, and she’d do it in the kitchen of the county jail starting at ten o’clock on Saturday, which would still give us a week to get ready for Mother’s Day.

  I figured this was a good idea as long as we kept it quiet. There was no reason for anyone else to know what we were going to do.

  But that didn’t work. On Sunday, either Heather or Amanda told some other women in church about it, because after church I got four phone calls from guys in the ward complaining that their wives had told them they would also be cooking dinner on Mother’s Day.

  So on Saturday morning we six guys from the ward gathered at the county jail. After waiting for ten minutes, the jail cook came out to get us. She must have been six foot two and stronger than any of us. “You will address me as Chief Dietician Jones! I will now collect your fees! Place them in your right hand as I come by to pick them up! Do you understand?”

  We all nodded. She was so scary I privately vowed to always live a law-abiding life.

  We each put the required twenty dollars in our right hand before she passed by us. Then she led us into the kitchen area. In the middle of the room there was a long stainless steel table with six stools set up around it.

  “Today I will be teaching you how to prepare Chicken a la Mayo,” she shouted. “Do any of you know the significance of that name?”

  I looked at each of the other guys and saw fear in their eyes. We all stared straight ahead.

  “Is it what people from Mexico eat for one of their national holidays?” I asked.

  “It is not!” she yelled. “It is a chicken dish that uses mayonnaise!” She went to the refrigerator. “I will now issue to each of you a chicken breast. I want you to pound it until it is a quarter of an inch thick. You may commence pounding as soon as you receive your chicken.”

  I didn’t really know how she wanted us to pound the chicken. Nobody else did either, so we all just stared at the piece of chicken.

  “I do not see pounding going on!” she yelled.

  I panicked. I took off a shoe and began pounding my chicken with it.

  Two whacks and she was all over me. “What are you doing?”

  “Uh, pounding the chicken?”

  “You are not respecting the chicken! Give me twenty-five pushups!”

  “What?”

  She got in my face. “I want you to give me twenty-five pushups! If you do not, I’ll make it so you never get out of here! One word to the judge and that’s all it takes! Is that what you want?”

  I got down and began doing pushups. The first ten went okay but after that I slowed down and finally had to stop to catch my breath.

  “You are a disgrace to this jail!” she yelled.

  I nodded and kept on doing pushups until I’d finished twenty-five.

  When I sat down again, Cody leaned over and, with a stupid grin on his face, whispered, “So, dude, what are you in for?”

  “Beating up my cousin.”

  He chuckled. “I’m not worried. You know why? I can actually do twenty-five pushups.”

  “Not another word from you two!” Chief Dietician Jones yelled.

  Things went better after that. She started to demonstrate what she wanted us to do and then we just copied what she did.

  While our chicken breasts were cooking, she taught us how to make a Waldorf salad, for which we had to chop celery, apples and walnuts into tiny pieces. It was a never-ending job. “Good grief,” I complained, “Can’t these people chew anything?”

  “Hey! Pipe down over there!” Chief Dietician Jones yelled.

  Next she taught us how to bake a potato, what frozen vegetables would be good to serve with the chicken, and the basics of table-setting.

  By this time, she’d quit treating us like low-life criminals. “How many of you clowns have ever made pancakes?” she asked.

  We all raised our hands.

  “I’m going to teach you how to make crepes. A crepe is like a pancake except thinner. You’re going to put cut-up fresh fruit and ice cream inside each crepe.”

  She taught us every step along the way.

  When our chickens had finished cooking, she cut up one of the pieces and let us have a taste. It tasted great.

  She announced that since we’d used county equipment, she’d give the rest to her coworkers. We all agreed to let her do that.

  By the time we left the jail, we felt good enough about what we’d learned to shake her hand and thank her.

  On Mother’s Day I repeated everything I’d been taught by Chief Dietician Jones. I chose frozen peas for my vegetable mainly because it gave a nice color contrast to the chicken, the Waldorf salad, and the baked potatoes.

  After the kids and I had cleaned up the kitchen and given Heather our presents, I went into the backyard. I needed a little time to myself.

  After a few minutes Heather came out. “Is anything wrong?” she asked.

  I sighed. “The crepes,” I said dejectedly.

  “The crepes? What about them?”

  I sighed. “I don’t know . . . I just think . . .” I sighed. “They could’ve been better. Maybe if I’d had a crepe pan, then . . .” I couldn’t even finish my sentence.

  “The crepes were wonderful!! Even the kids loved them.”

  “That’s just because of the ice cream. And Benjamin didn’t even eat his.”

  “You know Benjamin. He doesn’t eat half of what I fix for him.”

  “I know, but still,” I said sadly.

  She threw her arms around me. “Do you have any idea what a hero you are in my eyes for what you did for me for Mother’s Day?”

  “Really? Thanks. You know what? Now more than ever I realize how much work you do for us every day.”

  So, all in all, it was a good thing. We’ve been getting along real well since then.

  One other thing—for my birthday, Heather got me a crepe pan. You know what? I can hardly wait for next Mother’s Day!

  Chapter Two

  Just Call Me Coach

  When Heather signed up our seven-year-old son, Kevin, to play in the summer soccer league, I was looking forward to yelling out helpful suggestions to him on the field even though I knew next to nothing about soccer. But how hard can it be, right? You have a ball, you have a goal to kick it into, and you have an opposing team trying to stop you. I figured I’d go to all the games and yell out, “Kevin, get the ball!” or “Kevin, kick the ball!”—things that never would have occurred to Kevin.

  At his first game, I actually did yell a lot. I think it helped, too. After the game, the coach—the mom of one of the kids on the team—came up to me. “I can tell you know a lot about soccer.”

  “Well, I hate to brag.”

  “So I was wondering if you’d help us out.”

  “Sure, what would you like me to do?”

  “My husband just found out he’s being transferred—we need to move next week. I was wondering if you’d mind taking over as coach for the rest of the season. There are only four more games.”

  “Oh, well . . . I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know that much about the game.”

  “At this level you don’t need to. Basically, give everyone a chance to play, encourage them, and make them feel like each game has been a rewarding experience.”

  “I guess I could do that.”

  “Great.” She handed me her official coach clipboard. “This is the schedule of the games and the names and phone numbers of all the kids on the team. That’s about it. Thanks so much—good luck, Coach!”

  She smiled and left.

  “What were you and Alisa talking about?” Heather asked me as we walked to the car with our kids.

  “She and her husband are moving next week. She asked me to coach the rest of the season.”

  Heather got that worried look I’d seen so often before. “What did you tell her?”

  “I said I’d do it.”

  “Did she tell you that in thi
s league we don’t make a big deal of who wins or who loses? We’re not supposed to even keep score.”

  I scoffed. “What do you mean, you don’t keep score? What’s the point in playing if you don’t keep score?”

  “We want this to be a good experience for everyone on both teams.”

  “This is a game, right? There are winners and there are losers.”

  “Are you sure you want to coach?” she asked. “It’ll be a lot of work, and you know how busy you are at the office.”

  “How hard can it be? It’ll be fun. Won’t it, Kevin?”

  “If you’re coach, can I play all the time?” Kevin asked.

  “Yeah, sure, no problem. You da man!”

  Kevin and I did the little victory dance we do when things are going our way. Heather rolled her eyes but said nothing.

  The next day, to get ready for my first game as the coach, I went to a sporting goods store and bought what could only be described as a coach’s outfit. Gray sweat pants and a whistle to blow. Then at Deseret Industries I found an old soccer jacket formerly owned by somebody who played soccer at TWU, whatever that is.

  Fearing the worst, for our first game with me as coach, Heather sat far down the field with friends of hers whose sons were playing on my team.

  Before the game I got everyone together and gave them a pep talk and then taught them to stand in a circle and yell, “Crush ’em like a bug!”

  We tried it a few times. They seemed a little timid.

  “What does that mean?” one of the girls asked.

  “It means we get in there and fight for what’s ours—which is of course the ball.”

  She yawned. “Did you bring treats for after the game?” she asked.

  I could tell she was going to be a problem. “What’s your name?” I asked.

  “Katie.”

  “Well, Katie, whether you get treats depends on how well you do.”

  “We’re not getting treats?” she complained. “We always got treats before.”

  I got down and spoke confidentially to the team. “Don’t tell anyone, okay? We’re here to win.”

 
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