Just over a week ago, Daria described an impromptu plan.
Daria: I’m packing up my children and we’re going to visit Daddy.
Tata: All three of your children?
Tata: Our Dad?
Daria: He’s the one.
Tata: And when are you leaving?
Tata: You’ll be back by Friday, right?
Daria: Guuuuaaaaaazzzzzz. Eck eck eck.
Tata: Awesome. See you soon!
Okay, I’m lying. I seldom see Daria soon. Since she and Tyler moved the kids out to Flemington there are be long stretches between psychotic breaks where I agree to drive for an hour to chase children and feel sticky – I hate sticky. Also: Daria may have used real words but her cell service hates me in particular. Nobody else tells her she’s speaking the gentle dialect of the air traffic controller, she says. I can’t explain it. Anyway, I can’t call her when she’s not at home because it’s just too hard to memorize a phone number per person anymore and I might need those brain cells for breathing, we don’t know. A week passed. I kept looking around like I’d misplaced my wallet. The phone rang.
Daria: DID YOU MISS ME?
Tata: Fiercely. Where the hell are you?
Daria: EXIT TWO. DID YOU MISS ME?
Tata: Of course. Why are you shouting?
Daria: FFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFVVVVVVPP EP EP.
Tata: Ah! I should have known.
Daria: I’ll call you back later so Dara can talk to you.
Tata: Ooooooooooh! Camping trip for her!
Daria: My kids say hello, except for the one that says, “Bah bah bah.”
Tata: I’m hanging up now!
Daria, Todd and I, all forty-plus, have a half-sister who is about to turn 15. Dara just came back from a school trip to France with a hickey. I told Dad:
Tata: Listen, it’s a different world. You ran wild in the streets. I ran wild in the streets. It’s not the same anymore. Tell her, “I’ve been keeping this secret: you’re Catholic. I’m locking you in this convent until crossing your knees feels natural.”
Dad: She’s not Catholic.
Tata: Shhhh! It’s supposed to be a secret.
Dad: What about that fire-and-brimstone church she goes to with her mother?
Tata: Snakes got nothing on Dominicans. Shit, they were the Inquisition until the Pope told ’em to tone it down.
So Dad’s miffed, Dara’s staying with Daria for a few weeks and I’m measuring out a good blast buffer distance. This does nothing to prevent the mid-morning phone calls. Daria’s thrilled to wake up in her own house.
Daria: So guess what!
Daria: My beautiful little daughter – I was changing her diaper and I stepped around the corner for a clean diaper.
Tata: STOP! I KNOW EXACTLY WHERE YOU’RE GOING!
Daria: And Tyler Too said, “Mommy, she pooped.” I said, “No way, buddy. Where could the poop have gone?” And he pointed to a container next to Fifi. So I opened it and –
Daria: I had to bleach everything.
Tata: Eck eck eck eck. I’m holding a gabage can. Oops, it’s recycling –
Daria: I couldn’t believe it. She picked up the poop and put it in a container.
Tata: The room is spinning – breakfast won’t be delicious twice –
Daria: Anyway, so what’re ya doing?
Tata: Passing out now –
Daria: Gotta go!
Things are back to wretched normal.