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by Dave Markwell

Apparently, I am now number 522. For some unknown reason my stock took a nosedive today. I was up to 37, but not any more. My seven year old daughter informed me of this. Using some complicated and mysterious calculations, she ranks me. As she looked at me with pity and dismissal while telling me my new ranking, I shook my bowed head wondering where I went wrong. I never know what I did wrong. Her system of quantifying my value to her puzzles me. Only on rare and precious occasions do I break the top ten. I am usually deep in the hundreds. My wife remains solidly placed at number one and my son, my daughter’s unrivaled nemesis, frequently ranks higher than me. I don’t get it.

I am the one making blueberry pancakes that I don’t eat. I construct lunches and brush hair and teeth. I play and read and talk. I say nice things. I tell her she’s beautiful and smart and wonderful. Yet, I still trail an apparently large pack of others. My current ranking of 522 is strange. I don’t think this little girl even knows 522 people. In this case, she must be ranking me behind people she doesn’t even know. WTF…whatever…if 522 is where I am, fine.

While considering how or where she even began to think of ranking people, I had to look no further than my left ring finger. My wife, while not vocalizing my rank, wears my placement on her face. Where I stand with her is very obvious. The scale and severity of my indiscretion or error in judgment is detailed in her expression. She does know over 522 people and I am certain that I have done things resulting in a ranking below 522. I am not proud of these moments and the only explanation I can offer during these uncomfortable moments is that I am male. The degree to which a guy can screw up in the eyes of his ladies is immense. Trust me on this. I have tested it, exhaustively.

An illustration of this occurred today as my wife called me to let me know she missed her yoga class. This may or may not have been my fault. Upon answering the phone, I immediately went into defense mode by pointing out the various delays, besides me, that may have resulted in her tardiness. How well this went over became obvious after she hung up on me. It was not good. Being concerned about my new and likely deserved slide in ranking, I dove straight into damage control.

I cleaned the kitchen and swept the floor. I picked up my crap from the living room. I even picked up the kids’ stuff. I, in a mild form of parental protest likely known only to me, rarely put their stuff away. I yell at them to clean it up, trying to impart some lesson on responsibility that goes largely in vain. I don’t enjoy talking to myself, but I do a lot of it. The clincher on my amends making was my preparation of chicken enchiladas for dinner. Tonight was my wife’s late night at work and understanding that the way to her heart truly is through her stomach, I knew that having a good meal ready for her when she walked in the door had the power to change the climate in my home.

It may not have been total magic, but it did soften the edges of her frown and she loosened the grip on her anger and disappointment. With each delectable bite, she unwound and I felt my rank creep higher. A hungry woman is an easy fix. My daughter is not so easily persuaded, but as all people do, I’m sure she has a trigger. I will keep searching and hoping that a soft spot is discovered. I will throw some chocolate chips in her pancakes and maybe add some whipped cream. I will scratch her back and rub her feet. I will serenade and dance. I will find her trigger…hopefully soon, because I don’t know how much longer I can take being number 522.

[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here. Or work out with him at his new exercise company Waterland CrossFit!]

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