Joey has soccer practice right after school tomorrow. At school. This means that he will not be taking the bus home, which bothers me because A) he gets off first and I don't want him to lose his slot and B) who is going to help him get into his soccer stuff?
I have been worrying about this in a sort of half squelched, half unconscious way since I learned about the practice. I'm one of those annoying people who only asks questions when they're really obvious, like when Joe and I were at the casino in Niagara Falls, Canada and I slid my money over to the cashier and said, "It's American...do you know what to do?" But when I have actual questions, I say nothing and worry. A lifetime of this, however, has led to me never asking questions at all, unless I think my mom can answer them. And it turns out, she doesn't want to answer all the questions I have. (Like, "If I eat eggs one day past their expiration, will I die?")
Anyway, this soccer practice issue has been festering inside me for a week, and now it's upon me. It's kind of too late to ask the right questions at this point, so I finally sucked it up and did something I hate to do. I asked Joe for advice.
"Joey has soccer practice right after school tomorrow," I said. This is something I do to avoid asking questions. I present the situation instead, and wait for someone to respond appropriately. It never really works out.
"Cool," said Joe. "So he doesn't have to take the bus home."
I tried not to wrinkle my nose too noticeably as I said, "Well, actually, he's the first one off right now, and tomorrow's only the second day, so what if he loses his spot?"
Joe didn't look at me when he smirked and said, "I think it'll be fine."
I didn't hide my nose wrinkle when I saw he wasn't looking, anyway. I pushed forward with the bigger problem. "Well, the thing REALLY is," I said, "that the coach is meeting them in the gym. Who do you think is helping them get into their soccer gear?"
Joe faced me then and raised an eyebrow. "You mean shinguards?"
I tried not to show that his question was disgruntling. "Yes," I said.
"Mar, you have to stop babying him," Joe said gently. "He has to start doing more on his own. He has to not be afraid to do things on his own. I think you make him feel a lot more nervous than he needs to about most things."
"So what you're saying," I said--just to clarify, "is that I shouldn't meet him in the gym tomorrow after school to make sure he can get his shinguards on? Because that's really what I was asking."
There's this look Joe gets sometimes when I ask one of my questions. It's not just one face...it's, like, three. Amusement around his mouth, disbelief in his eyes, and something else. A touch of confoundedness, perhaps? Or maybe it's just love. Let's go with that.