Even with this, Oldest Son has it relatively easy: His roommate (who is standing up to the wedding) is keeping the old apartment and a new mutual friend is moving in. Oldest Son's fiancee, though, had to be installed promptly in the new apartment. Her parents are in San Antonio, Texas. She'll be there, too, in just a week or two... but the pieces must be moved on the chessboard now.
Both Oldest Son and his fiancee live in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. At least I'd call it Lincoln Park. Neighborhood names are a little... flexible... in the City, particularly in desirable areas. Realtors like to expand the boundaries of the better neighborhoods, whenever possible.
Anyway, the kids' old apartments were about three blocks apart. Their new home is about smack dab in between. I'll pause while you coo isn't that precious?... or gag... depending, most likely, on your gender.
Long Suffering Spouse and I made a capital contribution to all these moves: We put the seats down in the family van and gave Oldest Son the key Thursday night... and again Saturday morning. The family minivan had become the mini-moving van. (Cue "Transformers" theme....)
Oldest Son called Saturday afternoon. "What are you doing?" he asked. All innocent-like.
"Well," I said, "I just finished cutting the back yard and your mother is gardening."
"Oh," he said, perhaps intending to feign interest. "What are you doing in the next couple of hours?"
Well, anyone could see where this was going. But in a couple of hours, Youngest Son was supposed to return from his high school varsity baseball doubleheader and quickly change for the Junior Prom. Long Suffering Spouse wanted pictures. Middle Son and Younger Daughter had indicated a desire to come over and heckle. We could go over and help but the laws of physics would prevent our getting back in time for Youngest Son.
Particularly since we had no car. Oldest Son had the van and Youngest Son had the other car. I reminded Oldest Son of these facts but added, "I'll tell your mother." I figured that was safe. "OK," he said, seeing clearly where I was going.
When Long Suffering Spouse next came into the backyard I hollered out that I'd heard from Oldest Son. I relayed the substance of our conversation. I was thinking seriously about taking a nap next.
But Long Suffering Spouse surprised me. "We have to go help him."
I tried presenting the immutable laws of nature for her consideration. And the fact that we had no car. "I'll call my mother," she said.
Well, Abuela was dyeing her hair, getting ready for the anticipatory Mass at our parish church. She'd made arrangements to have her late husband and my late mother remembered at that Mass. (Saturday was the 10th anniversary of my mother's passing.) So she really couldn't give us her car because there was no way she'd make it to the church if we did anything more than wave hello to Oldest Son and his fiancee as we drove by, watching them carry stuff.
Even I knew that this would have been cruel.
But Abuela said, "OK, just give me a couple of minutes."
She drove over; Long Suffering Spouse drove her back. Meanwhile, Middle Son called to cancel on heckling his little brother. He'd decided that would be mean. And a cousin called to confirm his attendance at Oldest Son's nuptials. I picked up the phone calls and lost my chance for even a short nap.
We were almost out the door when Oldest Son called again. I thought he'd gotten my message -- but he must have known instinctively what his mother would do. "When you get close," he said, "call me. I have a parking spot."
Parking in that neighborhood is always at a premium.
We eventually got there and Oldest Son moved our van from a legal spot to an illegal one, allowing us to park. He put the flashers on. That way, any passing cop couldn't miss the fact that the vehicle was illegally parked.
Oldest Son's old apartment was a shambles. The new tenant had dumped his stuff in the dining room, on top of the wedding presents. Oldest Son had moved his fiancee's stuff into his room because. So we had to pull his stuff and her stuff out.
Long Suffering Spouse took command instantly. The kids were moving at far too slow a pace. "I don't remember the kid helping us out when we moved into our first apartment," I grumbled to Long Suffering Spouse.
"Well, he wasn't born yet."
"You call that an excuse?"
We got the van filled up on the double-quick ("I would have put more in," Long Suffering Spouse fretted) and Oldest Son drove it over to the new place. Long Suffering Spouse and I walked.
The kids' new apartment is on the second floor. So there were stairs. Eighteen stairs, in all, and fairly steep. We went up and down quickly, Long Suffering Spouse cracking the whip the whole while.
Oldest Son wanted help with the mattress. This was perhaps the heaviest item to be moved save for his giant TV set... and there was no way he was letting me get hold of that. Long Suffering Spouse doubted it would fit in the van. It'll have to bend, I said.
I kept trying to remind my wife about the time... how she was adamant that Youngest Son could not leave the house until she determined that he was suitably turned out. "We'll get the mattress," she said.
Oldest Son took one end and I took the other and we got it into the van -- bent. A couple of small items were added quickly and we took off again. While Long Suffering Spouse and I were walking over, Youngest Son called. "Where are you?" he said. "I have to leave."
Darn those laws of nature, anyway!
I told him that we had to move the mattress up the stairs. If I survived, we'd be home directly after.
That mattress was at least as heavy as it looked. I told Oldest Son I'd take the bottom. Because of the way the stairs turned, we had to switch once. But we succeeded. I told Oldest Son that, if he needed it to get the move finished, he could keep the van overnight. We then made our hasty goodbyes and got back onto the Kennedy... and right into heavy traffic.
At 4:50, I persuaded Long Suffering Spouse to call her mother and tell her we were coming. "I didn't even dry my hair," Abuela said. Even she could see that my wife had set on an impossible course of action. In the meantime, I'd had to scream at Youngest Son to stay put; that we were en route; that we'd be there shortly. "I've already missed the group pictures," he told us. "I still have to pick up my date." After my mother-in-law acknowledged reality, Long Suffering Spouse said, "See, we can go home first, now, and get him out. Then I'll bring her car back."
Youngest Son was fit to be tied. He looked nice -- we'd bought him a suit for the occasion and Long Suffering Spouse had tailored the pants. She wanted to see how it all turned out. But he was snarling and I was biting my tongue and Long Suffering Spouse was... looking for her camera.
Eventually Youngest Son made it to the prom. I suppose you could say I got my nap after dinner... until 1:00am when Youngest Son began texting us about staying out later than 2:00am as previously negotiated. But that's a different story.
The phone rang. It was Oldest Son.
It turns out that Oldest Son did not take any more loads over to the new place Saturday night because he'd lose his parking space if he did -- he had no one there to hold it for him. (I told you parking was at a premium in that area.) It also turns out that he had anticipated having more help on Sunday -- but his expectations had not been realized.
"You mean your posse didn't show?" Long Suffering Spouse asked. Long Suffering Spouse hardly ever says things like "posse." Unless she's describing the plot of a Western.
"Maybe he wants the Over-the-Hill-Gang again," I said... not really meaning it, you understand, but knowing that, if Long Suffering Spouse was determined, I'd have no choice. Best to be gracious, I thought.
"He says no," said Long Suffering Spouse. "He doesn't want us." Apparently my pop-eyed, purple face when I got to the top of the stairs with the mattress yesterday had put him off. And he still had that giant TV to move. Youngest Son was unavailable -- he was doing a school project with a classmate at the other kid's house.
Long Suffering Spouse was not happy about being asked -- albeit politely -- not to come... but to refer any able-bodied children of ours that might become available.
"If I'd been doing this, they'd be done by now," she said.
And I'd be done for, I thought to myself. And only to myself.
Middle Son eventually came to his brother's rescue. I called early Sunday evening to thank him, regaling him with tales of my climb up those back stairs with the mattress the day before.
But if the job was done, as Middle Son advised, where was my van? Since I had Middle Son on the phone, I asked him. "They're shopping," he said. "They need a new TV stand."
"You know," I told Middle Son, "I want those two to get a car soon. I just don't want it to be mine."
He'd left the gas tank just about empty, too.
Long Suffering Spouse wanted to talk on the way home. "You don't suppose they're living together, just two weeks before the wedding, do you?"
"Not me," I said, "I'm sure everything's according to Hoyle."
"I hope so. I'd be really disappointed in them both."
"Don't ask any questions," I said. "She's leaving town in about a week. He still has his old apartment to fall back on. Just not tonight with that other kid moving his stuff out of the dining room."
"My mother's going to ask," Long Suffering Spouse said.
"Just tell her everything's fine," I said.
I'll be really happy when this wedding's over.