Our 6-year-old twins began squabbling at 6:52 a.m. yesterday over whether they were going to play a five-in-a-line pattern or a fill-your-card game of Bingo. Griffin demanded that his sister shove him the crayon box, which she did, toppling over a full glass of milk. Last night, Georgia hollered, “I have to pee,” as she rushed to the bathroom.

“No, have to go pee, pee,” her 2-year-old sister cried.

“You can use your little potty,” I said, which Jane did, and I forgot—until half-an-hour later when Griffin kicked a ball and overturned the toilet chair, blanketing our family room in urine.

 

To escape these aggravations and ease my winter blues, I asked my mother-in-law to watch her delightful grandchildren for a couple of hours while I took myself out for some shopping and lunch. I was thrilled that the same fleece that had been stolen from my car on Christmas Eve—which I had been hoping to replace ever since—was now on sale at City Sports and available in a rich cranberry color. Furthermore, I had a gift card, which maintained a significant balance even after my purchase. This combination of serendipity and retail therapy buoyed my spirits. So I sped over to the Corner Bakery for a cup of tea and a spot of tranquility before heading home to referee fights about whether I was going to prepare penne pasta or spaghetti for dinner and to hear my 2-year-old whine, “I’m thirsty,” when a glass of water sat near her elbow.

 

But after I ordered my Uptown Turkey sandwich and was depositing my purse, coat and packages on a chair, my mobile phone began to squawk.

“A delivery guy is here with your new dryer,” my mother-in-law said.

“We didn’t order a dryer,” I cried.

 

My panic was acute due to the recent theft of my wallet. I check our accounts daily. We have fraud alerts on our credit. I’ve grown intimate with the people at 1-800-LifeLock.

 

Nonetheless, someone had apparently still managed to hijack our finances—and was ordering dryers! I began to sweat, thinking that the criminal who’d pinched my bank cards was a genius who’d accessed our new lines of credit and was going to toy with us by buying expensive appliances and having them delivered to our home—just to show he had the power. Or maybe he was an idiot who’d muddled the shipping and billing addresses when placing his fraudulent order. Or maybe I was being Punk’D.

 

“Are you sure your husband didn’t order a dryer?” asked the woman at the box store, which I shall leave nameless.

“I’m sure,” I said as calmly as possible. I love Jeff, but even if we needed a dryer, I’d have to nag him for weeks to execute such a purchase.

 

“I can’t give you any more information,” the clerk said, in response to my tumbling questions. “You’ll have to call the police.”

“What police?”

“The police you filed a report with.”

“That was weeks ago, in Philadelphia,” I sputtered. “The dryer came to me in Bala Cynwyd. You’re in Willow Grove. What good are the Philly cops going to be?”

 

The manager proved a bit more helpful by revealing some precious hints. “It says here, ‘Deliver to gymnasium basement,’” she offered.

“I’d better have my husband call you,” I said, finally getting around to checking the messages he’d sent in response to my panic texts.

 

“That was supposed to come here,” Jeff wrote. “I have sorted it out.” Apparently, ordering a new dryer—and putting it on his own credit card—falls into my husband’s duties as an independent school athletic director. “I’m just so annoyed,” he said, when we finally talked.

 

Frankly, I think we both felt hung out to dry.

 

Amidst the phone calls and anxiety, I hadn’t touched my sandwich. But I had perspired through the armpits of my rosy new fleece. So maybe I’ll head over to my husband’s school tomorrow to give it a thorough wash and tumble. I hear the dryer is being re-delivered—this time to the proper place.

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