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5:18 a.m. - 2003-09-09

BOB THE BUILDER OWES ME A NEW HOME

I just read on Gawain's page that Diaryland's Chrome Magnum Man passed away this morning.

I'm not going to pretend that I was the same friend to the guy as Gawain or Annie were. I know Gawain and Chrome were close. I exchanged emails with Chrome over the years and took good-natured potshots at him for his horrible spelling. I don't know if it was because of my constant berating or not, but the guy finally started using spell check on his entries, which amused me.

The most I can tell you about Chrome is that he was a good-natured guy with a great wit about him. He's going to leave lots of us Diaryland people feeling empty today and for quite a while.

It just goes to show you ... cherish each day as if it's your last.

We'll miss you Chrome, and I hope that you have found peace.


So I get home from work last night and I see Wyatt and Brock riding their bikes in front of my house.

Circling in front of my house.

Like elementary school-aged vultures.

Without the feathers.

And ... well ... no beaks either.

Do vultures have beaks?

They do, don't they?

Anyway...they're circling for dramatic effect.

I park the car in my little parking pad and walk slowly to the mailbox, very wary of what they're about to spring on me.

"Excuse me, Sir," Wyatt says. This is the first time he's ever called me "Sir". It sounded strange coming from this eight year-old kid.

"Yes?" I said.

"We're starting a construction company," he said. "And we were wondering if you had any construction you needed done on your house."

I then noticed that they both had Bob the Builder Tool Belts on and walkie-talkies.

In a moment of clarity, I realized these two young kids were actually innocent little children and not the monstrous demons from Hell that I've tried to portray them as in this diary on a few occasions.

So I decided to play along with their game.

"Why yes I do," I said. "I've got a rather large hole in my roof that needs repaired."

Honest to God, that was the first thing that came out of my mouth.

"We'll get right on it, sir," Wyatt said, jumping off his bike and pulling his tool belt up around his stomach. "But first we have to talk about payments."

"I'll pay you when the job is done!" I said.

"We'll need a thousand dollars," he said.

"Do you take checks?" I asked.

He confirmed with Brock.

Brock is FOUR years old. When I was four, all I cared about were monkey bars and Batman.

Brock spoke up.

"We only take cash."

This kid is FOUR and he's busting my balls already.

"No problem," I said. "I have a thousand dollars inside."

Wyatt says "Do you have a ladder we can borrow?"

At this point, I figured "Game over". The kids are cute and all, but I'm not going to hand them a ladder and let them scamper across my roof until their parents step into their respective front yards and gasp in horror at my stupidity.

"I uhhhh...I uhhhhhh...no," I said. "I don't have a ladder. Sorry."

"We need a ladder to get on your roof," Wyatt said. "We can't fix your roof if you don't have a ladder."

Now, it's been a while since I played any game remote to this sort of game. I figured that the kids were "pretending" to be construction workers, so I'd "pretend" to have a hole on my roof.

I didn't know that they were dead serious about fixing this imaginary hole in my roof and even more serious about receiving a thousand dollars for their services.

A thousand dollars CASH.

"Well, I don't really have a hole in my roof," I stammer, thus ruining the entire illusion of pretend play. "I just said that because I thought you guys were playing."

"We're not playing," Brock said. "This is our new business."

"Well then," I said. "I don't have any work for you to do."

"Do you need a new porch?" Wyatt asks desperately.

Here's where I made my mistake. I underestimated these kids.

"Yeah sure," I said. "I need a new porch. Go build me a new porch."

At this point, I go inside to change clothes.

I go inside and there's a few phone messages. I return the messages and talk for a minute or two.

I start the grill for some delicious pork tenderloin.

I seemingly do about a hundred things BEFORE I go check on these boys.

I open the front door and am horrified.

Brock is wildly swinging a real hammer on the bricks on my front porch.

"BROCK! NO!!" I practically scream.

Brock stops.

"You said you wanted a new porch, sir," Wyatt reiterates.

"Okay look ... I was kidding," I said, trying not to call them both "motherfuckers" in the process. "I thought you guys were playing like you were construction workers and I was playing like I was your customer. But I don't want any real work done on my house. So please ... quit hammering on my porch."

Wyatt, ever the entrepreneur, says "Well, can we have ten dollars?"

"I don't have ten dollars," I said. "I never have cash. I use a check card for everything."

"What's a check card?" Wyatt asks.

I really didn't want to go into the intricate details of electronic banking with an eight year-old and a pissed off four year-old with a hammer in his hand.

"Look guys, I have to cook dinner," I said. "So y'all need to go play somewhere else, okay?"

"Okay," Wyatt said. "Bye Mr. Bob."

"Bye guys," I said, closing the door.


So I'm in the back yard, grilling these delicious pork tenderloins, enjoying the soft strains of Queen's "A Night At The Opera" and enjoying life as I know it.

I hear a faint scraping sound.

I think nothing of it.

I'm kicked back on the lounge chair, sipping an ice cold Diet Dr. Pepper and singing along to "Love Of My Life" when Susie pulls up in the garage and walks to the back patio.

"What are Wyatt and Brock doing on the front porch?" she asks.

Naturally, I panic.

I bolt up out of my chair, run through the house, get to the front door and throw it wide open.

Brock.

The kid is four years old. If you walk away from this diary today with any semblance of knowledge...know this: A four year old kid is capable of being possessed by Satan.

I told Brock to stop hammering on the bricks on my porch, right?

...But I never said anything about not scraping away at the bricks with the claw of the hammer.

Which is precisely the activity that Brock is currently engaged in.

One red brick on my front porch is now a dull shade of white from his scrapefest.

"BROCK!" I bark. "Do NOT do that! You are tearing up my bricks!"

"But you said you wanted a new porch," Brock says.

"I said I was PRETENDING to want a new porch," I remind him. "I do NOT want a new porch. I do NOT want a new roof. I do NOT want anything done to my house, my property, my family or myself. Now please, you guys go ride your bikes or go work on your own houses."

Hindsight being 20/20, I really should have threatened telling their parents. Except that these two didn't see anything wrong with the fact that they were destroying my home brick by brick.

I dunno.

I'm just too damned young to be the Mr. Wilson to these kids' Dennis the Menaces.

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