My wife walked in the door. I said what I normally say before getting up from my comfortable chair.
“Hey, baby. You need any help?”
She’s always carrying something. Groceries. A sleeping kid. The world’s troubles on her shoulders. I can usually help with the groceries.
She always gets the mail. I think she would freak out if I started picking up the daily bills, catalogs, and junk that the big lady brings every day before lunch.
When my wife didn’t answer my query today, I assumed she was on the phone or nose deep in a hippie-chick mailer.
“Anything wrong?” I asked from the other room.
“Oh,” she said, in a sing-song voice that scares me more than the idea of prison, “I’m just trying to figure out why we’re getting a letter from the Department of Social Services.”
Seconds later, the letter was in my lap (names have been changed to protect the innocent–I swear, INNOCENT–and the emphasis is not mine, but rather the bold type that was actually in the letter).
Dear Mr. Otis,
Our agency is working with Tomato Jenkins to make a plan for him. Our agency is looking for a permament plan for this child one of which is placement for adoption. If you are the father or believe you may be the father please contact our agency as soon as possible so that we may discuss this case…
It goes on, but you get the gist.
My wife said what she later re-wrote on her blog. “If I were a little crazier and a little less confident in my life at this point, I might be utterly unglued right now.”
Let’s be clear. I would understand my wife’s ungluing. That said, and pardon my french, but holy fuck.
It didn’t take long to do a mental inventory of everywhere in South Carolina where I’ve, if you will, sown my oats. I counted to one, looked across the room to make sure she wasn’t in possession of a little Tomato Jenkins, and then breathed a small sign of relief. In the clear.
This would’ve been a little more scary had the first name of the letter recipient been correct. My last name was right on. The first name, however, was Bryan. Still, I felt sort of obligated to call the number on the letter.
This is an an odd voicemail to leave. “Hi there. This is Otis. I got a letter in the mail today asking whether I might be the father of one Tomato Jenkins. I am not [cue nervous laughter and uncomfortable need to make a joke], at least as far as I KNOW, little Tomato’s father. If you need to discuss this further, feel free to give me a call.”
Frankly, I’m hoping nobody calls. It’s already been an odd week in that regard. Last week, my phone rang, and someone literally said, “Otis!” There are several people who address me with that name exclusively, so it’s not surprising to get the salutation. Still, I didn’t recognize the voice and was a little embarassed to not know who the hell the guy was. So, we had a five-minute conversation before the guy finally said, “Is this Otis SIDLER?”
I’m not sure what the odds are on a wrong number for somebody named Otis coming into my cell phone, but they gotta be small.
Frankly, if you ask me, somebody should find this Otis Sidler guy and do a paternity test. Little Tomato looks like a Sidler, as sure as my name is Otis.