The Spaces Between Your Fingers

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I interviewed Mike at his law office. Mike is totally relaxed behind his large, mahogany desk. The cabinets behind him are decorated with statues of baseball players, bobble-heads, and numerous other baseball baubles. His well-trimmed beard is grayer than his salt-and-pepper hair, and he looks out through his glasses with a warm, knowledgeable smile, intently listening and waiting to answer my questions. This memory details the day that Mike learned that you shouldn’t commit to punishments that you are not willing to follow through on. Photograph provided by Mike.

Matthew sniffled. It was the type of sniffle that kids get with the first snow day of the year. Mike handed him a tissue and laughed as they watched Moe hit Curly Joe with a monkey wrench for the thousandth time. The orange sun was just visible through the wall of evergreen trees that lined the property.

As they continued their morning tradition, Matthew sniffled again and obediently blew his nose when Mike handed him another tissue. This went on for about half an hour until 6:30 AM. Matthew sniffled again. Mike passively handed him another tissue, still fixated on The Three Stooges playing on the television. This time, however, he did not hear Matthew blow his nose.

“Matthew, blow your nose.”

“I don’t know how.”

“What do you mean you don’t know how? You just did it 10 times!”

“I don’t know how.”

Mike put the tissue up to his son’s nose.

“Blow.”

“I don’t know how.”

“If you don’t blow your nose right now you are going to your room.”

“I don’t know how.”

Mike stood at the bottom of the steps and watched as Matthew went into his room.

He is just trying to annoy me. That little brat.

He went back into the family room and turned the Three Stooges back on, but a few minutes later he heard footsteps upstairs. He went to the bottom of the stairs, and there Matthew was, at the top of the stairs pacing around.

“Go back to your room.”

At the bottom of the steps, Mike waited patiently. Just like clockwork, Matthew came out of his room a few minutes later. Mike quickly grew tired of this and decided to go upstairs and force Matthew to sit on his bed.

 “Matthew, I know you don’t like sitting there, why don’t you just blow your nose and you can leave?”

“I don’t know how.”

At 8:00 AM, Matthew’s mom woke up. Mike told her the situation and finished his briefing with:

“He’s your problem now.”

After a few unsuccessful attempts to make him blow his nose, Jill decided to simply wait it out. This was not her best idea.

After a few hours, it began to snow.

“Matthew, it’s snowing! Your brother is going to go out and build a snowman. Do you want to play in the snow too?”

Matthew nodded excitedly.

“Blow your nose and you can go outside.”

“I don’t know how.”

At this point, both parents were very frustrated, but they were too deep into the punishment to give up and let Matthew win, so they waited, taking turns staying in his room and making sure that he remained on his bed. This was no small task, as Matthew was very hyperactive and practically bounced off the walls.

At 12:30 PM, Mike came into the room.

“Matthew, we are going to go get pizza, but you have to blow your nose.”

Matthew jumped off the bed, grabbed a tissue, blew his nose and ran out. 

Blow Your Nose

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Winter 2002
Mike's House

I interviewed Mike at his law office. Mike is totally relaxed behind his large, mahogany desk. The cabinets behind him are decorated with statues of baseball players, bobble-heads, and numerous other baseball baubles. His well-trimmed beard is grayer than his salt-and-pepper hair, and he looks out through his glasses with a warm, knowledgeable smile, intently listening and waiting to answer my questions. This memory details the day that Mike learned that you shouldn’t commit to punishments that you are not willing to follow through on. Photograph provided by Mike.

Decade: 2000s
Rating:
Recorded by Matt on June 3, 2018
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