Ashley says things come in threes; particularly bad, dreadful, disastrous things, things that show up without warning but arrive with great public fanfare.
It's the Rule of Three, she claims. There was a time when I flippantly dismissed the theory, but that time is no more.
The first rock fell out of my wall on a Monday with the flat-tire-booty-shorts incident. I sat at the wheel of the minivan - as if that isn't embarrassing enough - with a flat tire, blocking the carpool lane at the elementary school on the very same morning that my daughter wore patriotic plaid short-shorts to school and was sent right back out to join me in the broken-down car. We shamefully abandoned the auto and walked home.
Had I heeded Ashley's warning, I would have braced myself for the mortar to crumble. As it was, however, I took a Steve Irwin stance, discounting all signs of danger. (That got him, and will likely get me, right where everyone always knew it would.)
Sadly, I never heard the click, click, click clue that something was amiss in the next Monday's wash. Or maybe I disregarded it. I'll never say which. But when I opened the dryer, and began folding the warm clothes, I saw spots; bluish-purplish-blackish spots all over everything. The dryer's uh-oh-shaped mouth guiltily spat two empty pens pinging and clattering onto the floor. An entire load of laundry was ruined and the barrel of my dryer coated in ink.
One calamity remained to verify the Rule of Three. A pattern arising, I figured it might be best if I skipped the upcoming Monday. A friend aptly pointed out, however, that if I stayed in bed, it would probably collapse.
Monday arrived. The world glowingly greeted me and troubles stood at a respectable distance. Moment-by-ordinary-moment, the day passed.
I suspected the Rule of Three of breaking, until the sound of an alarm screeched through the afternoon calm of my house.
And yes, I did attempt to ignore it, but my oldest son accused me of subjecting him to carbon monoxide poisoning; a demise, based on the power bill, that I'm confident is virtually impossible in our house.
CO was not our problem. The upstairs smoke detector was. Finding no evidence of a blaze, I smirked at how easily I'd rid myself of the Rule of Three. My smugness, naturally, irked the universe and it reneged on #3. While I breathed lightly, unseen forces swooshed and whirled and whipped up a special do-over.
Monday, again, and the teacher talking to me through the phone said, "Because there is no way to put this any nicer, I'm just going to say it. Your son drew male parts on the hand of another boy in class today."
Sensing by my silence that I was not computing her message, she explained, "The male anatomy, that's clearly what it was."
Oh my heavens, Lucy, jen-i-taaaaylllll-ya, my late Memphis grandmother's reprimanding voice echoed in my head. Scandalous.
"Oh," I whispered into the phone, horrified at the malicious and conspiratorial collaboration of Monday and the Rule of Three.
Charlotte, when I spilled my mortified guts to her, between giggling gasps, suggested, as a suitable punishment, that I make my son draw on me what he drew on the other child. I refuse, however, to go around with male "jen-i-taaaaylllll-ya" artfully depicted on my person.
BUT, I fear that lack of serious action will reset the Rule of Three, again. Therefore, as much as I hate to do it, I'm going to have to make my son draw on Charlotte's hand.
Lucy Adams is the author of Tuck Your Skirt in Your Panties and Run. She lives in Thomson, Ga. Email Lucy at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit her Web site, www.IfMama.com.