"See you tomorrow, Dr. Burke," I said quickly.
"Wait, what did your mom say about 'wonderful'?"
"She was being sarcastic. I'm in for the whupping of my life."
I hung up in a hurry, my heart booming. The narrow escape should've taught me a lesson. That should've been it--one and done--the kind of trick you retire immediately, and count your blessings for. But it wasn't. It was more like winning big on your first visit to a casino. It was a gateway drug.
I realized, in the days and weeks that followed, that helping my mom with phone calls, which had always been a burdensome chore, could be more like a Choose Your Own Adventure book. My mom's friends began to make odd suggestions, like that she take my brothers and me to Cedar Point or that she rent the Eddie Murphy movie Delirious. My dad, calling home before he left work, often requested that my mom pick up a bag of Soft Batch chocolate chip cookies from the store.