"I'll be down in a minute, mom!!," I yell back, and quickly save my research document and race down the stairs, being careful not to tear any insulation down as I go. Even though my mother's shrill voice really irritates me, I have found that it really is best just to do as she asks. So, I race downstairs, and into my dad's room, his favorite place for "private" conversations.
"Angie, sit down, I need to tell you something." His voice is always gentle, so you never know if it's going to be bad news or not. Since he has told me to sit down though, I assume that it is bad new, and so I prepare myself for the worst. "Honey, it's your grandpa's birthday, and I don't know what we should do for him."
"Okay dad," That's it, just his birthday, no one died, why the hell did you make it sound so bad, and tell me to sit down like it was something bad, and it's just somebody's birthday? "What do you think we should do?"
In the same voice, "Well, honey, (sigh) we are going to have to pick him up from the nursing home, and I need to know your schedule."
What, you couldn't wait until dinner time to ask for my schedule, you couldn't wait and let me at least finish reading my research article for this? You only needed to know my schedule, and so you interrupted me for the fifth tonight, and I still have hours of arduous web research to go through, and you need to know my schedule? "Well, dad, I don't work tomorrow, but I have class from 7:30 am until 5:15 pm."
"So, do you think you could pick-up your grandpa at 3:00 pm?"
Did he not hear me say class until 5:15pm? Does he think I'm kidding, or that I can just skip classes? This has been my Tuesday schedule for 4 weeks now, does he think I'm making it up? "No, dad, tomorrow is Tuesday, I have calculus at 7:30, study group for calculus at 8:30, chemistry lecture at 10:30, physics at 11:30, chemistry lab from 1-4, and then I have jazz band from 4-5:15. I cannot pick grandpa up. I will be in classes all day. I cannot skip any of those classes to pick up grandpa. Grandpa will have to wait until I am done with my classes at 5:15." I am always calm when I talk, so he won't think that I am angry or anything.
"So, you don't think you can get your grandpa at 3:00?"
For a man as brilliant as everyone seems to think you are, you sure don't have many listening skills, do you dad? "No, I will be in class until 5:15."
"No way at all you can pick your grandpa up, you can't skip class or anything?"
What a concept, my father is telling me to skip class, MY FATHER!!! And I'm in college!! "I cannot skip any classes to pick up grandpa."
"So, you can't pick up grandpa?"
"No, for the fourth time, I cannot pick up grandpa until after 5:15."
"No reason to yell, I'm just trying to work out tomorrow's schedule! No dad would put up with the way you talk to me. Do you know how disrespectful you are of me? This is till my house, even if you are 19, and you can talk to me in a civil tone of voice, young lady. I do so much for you, you can at least talk to me in a respectful tone of voice. Jeez Angie, tomorrow is your Grandpa's birthday, and you can't even be bothered to pick him up. It's no wonder you never have any dates, if you talk to people the way you just talked to me."
Okay Angie, mental note, never tell dad how many times you have repeated the same answer to the same question. "I will be happy to pick up Grandpa when I get out of school at 5:15. Now, is it okay if I go back upstairs and work some more on my research for my chemistry paper? My professor wants a portion of our research to be from the internet and I have not been able to get far tonight due to all the interruptions."
"Fine Angie, go upstairs and play your little games. I will pick up your Grandpa at a great inconvenience to me as it is obvious that you care more about that damn computer and your stupid games than you do about your family. Go on, get out of here, it's obvious you don't like us, so I won't burden you any more with my presence."
"I'm doing research dad, I'm not playing games, and I will pick up Grandpa tomorrow after classes, just like I said I would."
"To use your favorite phrase, 'whatever' Angie, just go upstairs and do whatever it is that is so much more important than your family. Are you going to eat dinner with us, or would that be too inconvenient for you?"
"Yes, I will eat dinner with my own family. Just have mom holler up to me when it's ready."
I go back upstairs, and escape into the unregulated, unregimented world of my computer. You never talk to me like that, computer; you never yell at me. I have never offended you. Ahh sweet computer. Where I am the mistress, and you are my tool for learning. And they wonder why so many people spend so much time on the internet.