I'm going to Dallas this weekend to visit my Uncle Tony. He is my dad's youngest brother. Tony has always been the fun uncle, like Travis is to my kids.
Tony has a son, Brent. When Brent was younger, he was a shit, to put it kindly. One of my favorite stories is when he was staying with my mammaw he stole the neighbor's gun out of his car. The neighbor was a Roby cop, who had come home for lunch and left his holster in his car. (The town had 600 people, no one locked their doors, let alone their cars). Brent has since grown up and become all responsible. Now he's a motivational speaker and counselor. Who knew he had it in him?
I remember one trip to Tony's house, when I was about 10 or 11. His house had a game room with a big sliding glass door that opened up to the pool area. Brent and I were in the game room, and he started throwing darts at me (steel tip, of course). One of them hit the glass door just right, because it made a little "pop," then Brent and I watched it spiderweb into a million little pieces. Here came my mom from the pool to see what damage I had inflicted. Brent 'fessed up, and even though it wasn't my fault, Tony teased me about it for a long time.
Fast forward several years - I took Jessica and Kelli to Dallas to visit him. Jessica was five and Kelli was two. It was their first (and only) plane ride. I was going to drive down but Tony paid for my airline tickets, because as he put it, "You love those girls but it's a long drive and you'll probably put them out in Joplin." He was probably right.
We went to dinner our last night there, and it was not a success. Kelli was being a brat, throwing chips, and crying because I wouldn't let her have her binkie. She was also not sleeping much (strange house, strange room) and consequently I wasn't sleeping well. So I was not a patient parent. Our waitress was slow and sullen, and I really thought Tony was going to make her cry too when she finally brought our beers. She perked up a bit after he got done with her. I finally got a few bites of Kelli's taco in her, managed to bolt down my dinner, and drink my beer. In the meantime, Jessica hunkered down, ate her dinner and kept her head low, God love her. I guess she figured the best way to escape my wrath was to stay quiet.
We headed home in Tony's big Ford F350 diesel pickup with the 4-door crew cab. I needed a stepladder to get in the damn thing. When we got to his house, I handed Kelli out to Tony and as I got out, my exit was abrubtly stopped when my my shorts cuff got hung on the door handle of his truck. I was hanging about 4 inches off the ground by my pants. My beer bottle chose that moment to roll out of the truck and shatter on on the driveway. Tony turns around and says "Child, what are you doing," and then the door handle broke off, I plummeted to the driveway, landing on the glass and further grinding it into the driveway, and burst into tears. He took Kelli and Jessica into the house, and let me cry. A few minutes later he came back outside to make sure I was over my hysterics, handed me another beer and said "feel better?" I said "well, I've broken your door and your truck. What's next?" He said he wouldn't let me drive his truck for a few years. We sat in the backyard and drank a few more beers, just talking about goofy stuff. It was so nice to have an adult conversation without having to stop to get someone some juice, wipe a hiney, or tie a shoe.
So tomorrow we'll fly off for Texas, on Maddy's first plane ride. She's half excited, half nervous, and she's already claimed the window seat. Hopefully when we get there she won't break anything, but if she does, Tony will know she's definitely my child.