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Odd Jobs to Fund a Girlfriend

So, there’s this sweet kid in my neighborhood.  He’s tall and skinny, a string bean of a kid with a great heart, and he likes to shoot hoops in my driveway. He knocked on my door on Monday night.
“Um, how do I put this… I need to make some money.”
“Oh, well sure!  Come on in.  Let’s talk about what you need.”
He came in and sat at my dining table.  “Well, basically, I’ll do anything you need.”
“What kind of things do you have in mind?”
“Anything.  Really anything.  Like, I can scoop poop in your backyard or whatever.”
“That’s a great start and that would be so helpful.  Okay, so how about if I make a list of things I’d like for you to do, and I’ll get in touch with you?”
“When do you think you’ll get in touch with me?”
“Well, we can work around your school schedule, so maybe later this week after school or maybe this weekend.”
“Cause, like, I’m available tonight.”
Well, it’s nearly 8:00.  This isn’t exactly prime hours for tasking around here, even for hired help.  I didn’t say that.  I just kind of looked quizzical, I’m pretty sure.
“I have a girlfriend.  I just need to make some money.”
 I said, “She must be a pretty great girl.”
Insert bashful downward glance, toe drawing a line on the floor, blushing smile.  “Yeah, she is.”
Well, say no more.  There’s a soft place in my heart for a boy who’s trying to learn to woo a girl. He scooped poop and folded three loads of laundry, and he took home some cash.
So he knocked on my door the next night.  I told him he could organize my garage if he wanted to, but Gabrielle was coming over and I was leaving, so that night wasn’t a great night for entrepreneurial agreements.
He came over three times last night.  Three. Times.  Dude.  I’m not sure I can afford the frequency of this arrangement.  And I think the girlfriend might need you to find more resources than just this one.
The doorbell rang last night in the middle of pajamas and homework and “Mommy!  What’s 26-9?”  and “It’s your homework, not mine, so I’m not giving you the answers.  Think of a way to solve that problem,” and “I forgot my reading log,” and “I forgot the book she asked me to read,” and “Let’s figure out how you’re going to be responsible.”
Doorbell. Neighborhood kiddo looking to make some money.  Or maybe just have some.
And suddenly I was painfully aware that I am no spring chicken, gone are my days of starting anything past 8:00 at night, and it makes me laugh that there was a whole season in college when the goal was to be in bed by 1:00 AM.  And we rarely met that goal.  I’m just not that girl anymore.
“Here’s the deal, bud.  It’s too late to start anything tonight.”
“Oh, is that because it’s like almost 8:00?”
“Yes.  Really, anything after 7:00 is off the table around here.”
“Oh. Okay.  Cool.”
“Yeah, so we’ll just keep that in mind.  Have a good night.”
And suddenly, anxiety hit me like a truck.  all the classic symptoms of my pulse racing, my body tense, short breaths, but somehow also accompanied by me being so crazy-stupid-hot all of a sudden that I had to take a pill and then sit on the front porch in 14 degree weather.  That doesn’t usually happen, that part there.
Meanwhile, the homework questions continued.  Even while I was outside.  I’m all about teaching and helping.  But I am NOT going to do this for you.  I already did first and second grade.  Quite proficiently, actually.  Except for the note on my report card that said, “Tricia is a little bit too social with her classmates.”  At any rate, do it your own self.
Bedtime finally came.  And I settled in with a warm heating pad (the ultimate nourishment for a single girl at the end of a day, I’m convinced) and three episodes of Cutthroat Kitchen on the Food Network.  And then I went to sleep and it was somehow morning before I could even believe it.
I was supposed to take my car in for a checkup today.  I cancelled.  Because that’s just not what I’m doing on this day. Unless the neighborhood boy wanted to take my car in for me.  But then he would need a permit and then a license and insurance and a job, and that likely all comes back to me.
So, no.
Tricia Lott Williford

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