If anyone out there ever needs moving help, if you find yourself in need of serious box-toting muscle and seemingly boundless energy, may I humbly suggest forgoing all those moving companies with their sons and calling my 10-year-old and his cousins Sophie, 11, and Eva, 9.
Because these children are machines, ferocious and unyielding. I've moved many times, and I've seen grown men pout about couches and tables. Last week I saw a 9-year-old ask me, "You think I can get that piano bench upstairs?" (I'm seriously thinking of encouraging them to skip college and open their own moving business, which will not only be a lucrative use of their youthful energies, but save us $7 million in tuition fees.)
Here's how this went. We were near the end of a lengthy and rocky move, one that covered multiple states, found me nearly plummeting off Eagle Mountain in a Penske truck and -- sorry about this, pet people -- resulted in the accidental execution of many fish. That part was not my fault, and I've suffered severe aquatic-based formerly Catholic guilt for like two weeks. (Unrelated: What would be the penance for accidentally killing fish with misdirected engine heat? I don't think that's in the handbook, though I like to imagine it's something like "Recite the lyrics to that 'Little Mermaid' song three times.")
I had the fish safely packed in a Tupperware container, which I lovingly nestled on the floor of the cab of the moving truck I was driving. Turns out the floors of cabs of moving trucks get hot, and that makes water get hot. The fish did not like the heat. It was the last thing they did not like. The only survivors of my accidental fish hot tub were two extremely traumatized frogs. Or whatever the equivalent of "traumatized" is for tiny amphibians. I'd say something like "toadmatized," but I feel like that's disrespectful to the memory of their friends.
When you're younger, and dumb, you tend to move yourself. You get ambitious, pack your meager belongings, trick some friends into helping and go. It's a simple transaction that only infrequently results in the herniating of one of your friends (apologies again, Jeremy). It also helps that you own like nine objects, most of which can be safely contained by your mom's Honda Odyssey.
But then you get older, reproduce and accumulate truckloads of pointless belongings, so when you move, you have to hire people to fetch them from the forgotten corners of the attic, carry them to a truck and bring them to a new house, where you can shove them in new corners of a new attic. So we hired movers, nice guys who behaved as though their blood had been replaced by thick delicious molasses from upstate New York. I don't want to say they were slow, but the turtles in the nearby pond kept looking at me like, "Do you need us to call some friends?"
But Sophie, Eva and my son? Animals. At one point I asked Sophie if she wanted Gatorade and she looked at me as if to say, "Old people need Gatorade." And then she picked up a bookshelf by herself and carried it up a flight of stairs while, if I am remembering this right, spinning it around over her head.
And my son, who can complain about an ice cream cone ("The waffle cone is too mushy") and waffles ("The waffles are also too mushy") just kept moving. I'd never seen anything like it. Partial list of activities that weary him: walking up the stairs, placing objects in a dishwasher, washing his hands after meals. Activities that do not: Helping to empty a 26-foot truck of boxes of CDs and newspapers his idiot dad keeps for some reason.
This part is actually true: I have a desk, one of those giant old rock-solid behemoths that can't be disassembled and weighs slightly more than my CRV. And the moving fiasco ended in a dark long driveway at 9:30 p.m., with myself, my 10-year-old (who has about as much muscle mass and body fat as a wet Swiffer), Sophie and Eva. And I will be dipped if we -- and by "we" I mean "mostly they" -- flipped it over, got it on a blanket, hustled it out of the truck, slid it down the ramp on its top, got it into a garage and upright again. I could name a dozen grown men who wouldn't have been able to pull that off. By way of thanks, I'm buying them all new fish.
Jeff Vrabel is known to the fish community as a genocidal maniac, but he's OK with that, because it's not like fish can print damning editorials about you underwater. He can be reached at www.jeffvrabel.com and followed at twitter.com/jeffvrabel.