When exasperated by a child’s lapse, my maternal grandmother was known to use the admonishment: “This is the last time I am going to tell you.” My aunt became famous for the daring retort, “I am glad it’s the last time because I’m sick of hearing it.” Words have a way of twisting back on you. My brother and I were tasked with doing the dishes together. We would each do our half and there would still be half left over. My Mother once was so disgusted at our arguments that she began finishing the job herself. We, of course, would not let her. The bluff might not have worked if we were absolutely certain Dad would not find out about our behavior. My Mother eventually solved the problem by assigning us alternating nights. Then we could argue over who got the easier night without so many pans. I have been notoriously good at performing badly enough to eliminate repeat requests for aid. While helping my brother David move, I dropped a load of prized paintings and smashed all the glass in the frames. When cleaning out a storage locker in Los Angeles with my brothers, I accidentally took David’s suitcase to Goodwill with all his clothes and toiletries for the trip in it. When my incompetence is coupled with my obnoxious temperament, I have angered people to the point of being specifically told that I would never be asked to help again. I usually recover from my first wave of dejection by reminding myself that such rejection is more of a reward than a punishment.


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