Greetings, my fellow port swillers!

Well, ol’ Robbo has just finished seeing off our Honda Juggernaut®, as Mrs. Robbo and the gels head for the vast but secure holdings of Fort LMC, there to spend a couple Spring Break days cavorting with the Former Llama Military Correspondent’s missus and kiddoes.  (For some reason, the gels seem particularly mystified this year by the fact that ol’ Dad does not, in fact, get a spring break himself.)

You know, when somebody says to me, “Robbo, the plan is to leave Port Swiller Manor at 8:30 this Saturday morning,” my brain, as feeble as it might be, automatically starts calculating backwards from that departure point.  What clothes do I need?  Where are they? Need they to be washed? At what point do I need to pack, and at what point do I need to take the precedent steps to let me do so? What other things do I need?  And so on, and so on.  In response to these questions, I work out a nice, neat timetable of Things That Must Be Done.

The result of such calculations is that I am able to calmly and collectedly walk out the door, fully prepared, at 8:30 on Saturday morning.  Simple, right?

Well, it is safe to say that the rest of my family….does not think about these things the same way that I do.  Whether it’s a generational matter, the difference between Mars and Venus or just a function of individual personalities, I leave to friends of the decanter to ponder themselves.   But for alarum and confusion, for dog and pony show chaos, for last-second crises and Rube Goldberg-stop-gap solutions, there are few challenges in this world greater or more exasperating to me than trying to get all of them out the door in good time and order.

We’re talking about four women going on a stay for three nights.  From the logistical complexities, you’d think it was Operation Overlord.  From the disorder and falling out, you’d think it was the Retreat from Moscow.  From the internecine savagery, you’d think it was the Raft of the Medusa.  As has often been the case of late, the thing that finally caused ol’ Robbo’s patience to snap and his inner fiend to awake was the squabbling over who had who’s iWhatever charger.  I don’t know why, but that particular spat grates on my nerves like an iron glove on a chalkboard, causing me to see red.  And once they get on about it, there appears to be no power in the ‘Verse capable of getting them to drop it again.

But the curious thing that I’ve begun to notice about these departure preparations, with the Manor a vortex of pandemonium and Self standing in the middle working himself up into a state of ineffectual apoplexy, is that amidst all their yelling and snarling and tears, I am starting to be aware of  certain slantendicular looks being exchanged among my womenfolk caught just out of the tail of my eye.  And as they pulled out of the driveway, they were all grinning at me like delighted imps.  Is it possible that ol’ Dad, the paterfamilias, the fellah whom God Himself requested and required be honored by his children is, in all of this, being….played?

St. Joseph, pray for us.

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