Wednesday, March 04, 2009

A Pitcher of Milk

A rewrite of a story from a couple years ago...

A Pitcher of  Milk

"Oh, MAN!" I moaned as we pulled into line at the drive-through. "I'm definitely going to be late for work now."

"I'm sorry, Dad!"


My genius of a son spilled a pitcher of milk this morning and in the havoc ended up missing both his breakfast and the school bus. His school was on my way to work, so I was driving him. My wife, Sally, insisted the two of us stop for a breakfast sandwich, too. "He's a growing boy," she said reminding me of my fatherly duties.

"I hope you know the trouble you're causing me." Glancing at my watch, my heart thumped louder as I realized the meeting at work I was supposed to chair was about ready to begin. "Is this line ever going to move?" I pounded the steering wheel with my fist. The navy blue Ford in front of us inched forward. "What were you doing taking the early bus anyway? I thought you go later."

"I'm in the play, Dad! Rehearsal."

"Oh...I didn't know that," I mumbled. My thoughts returned to the pitcher of milk tipping off the table. White liquid soaring through the air...

"Mom knew."

"Oh." ...Milk raining, some slapping against my chest. "What play is that?" 

He looked at me like I was green with antennae coming out of my head. "The Senior Class Play!"

"Oh...You're a senior this year. That's right." The pitcher crashing to the floor and milk spreading like a river...out of reach, out of control...

Cars moved while we spoke, and the navy Ford in front of us jumped up several spots.  I looked at my watch.

"Dad, we could skip the breakfast if you want."

"No.  I promised your mother." The blue car ahead inched again. "So what's the play?"

"'You Can't Take It With You.' I must have told you a thousand times."

"Oh, I guess I forgot." The milk spreading across the floor, never to be contained, neat and tidy, in the pitcher again...

The navy Ford finished at the order window. We were next.

"Welcome to McDonald's! Can I take your order?"

"Two egg McMuffins...and a coffee..."  I looked at my son.

"I drink coffee, too, Dad."

"Make that two coffees." I turned to him. "When did you start drinking that stuff?"

"About two years ago!"

"Oh." The milk making rivers with tributaries running into cracks and corners, never to be mine again...

I drove while we ate in silence. We pulled up to his school. "So when is this play?" I asked to break the silence.

"Friday night."

"Oh, I'll be out of town on business Friday."

"I know. I already assumed you wouldn't be there." He paused. "You never are." Our eyes met and he turned away. "See ya sometime," he said swinging open the door and bursting out. I watched him walk away.

Reaching for the shattered pitcher...the broken glass cuts me, makes me bleed. I looked at my watch; I could still make the end of the meeting.  I decided I couldn't worry about the pitcher. Besides, it was only spilled milk.

Copyright 2009 JO Janoski


  1. No sense crying over spilt milk, I guess... I can hear you calling this guy an SOB under your breath. There's also the undercurrent of a lost soul in the writing, a guy more to be pitied than vilified. I think different readers may take different meanings from this, honestly, Jo... but, that may have been your intention. Interesting work... thanks for sharing it with us, I enjoyed reading it.

  2. Mary From Meander With Me10:07 PM

    Loved it. Revived a memory concerning milk from from years past. I remember one of the children coming up the steps of the front porch after leaving the milkhouse and carrying a filled pail of fresh milk. She tripped on the top step and ... I simply said, "Don't worry, the porch needs a good scrubing," I always felt grateful to my mother who never scolded any child for such an accident. and glad that I was able to follow her lead.

  3. Anonymous10:17 PM

    The italicised 'thinking about the spilt milk' lines seem to coincide nicely as subtext for the emotions this uninvolved dad might be feeling and not recognizing regarding his lack of connection to his kid. Particularly the 'cut and bleeding' line, as his kid walks away, essentially dismissing the dad. Then at the end, the not worrying about the pitcher and milk...right back to being the uninvolved dad.


    That's what I took from it. I bet it works on many levels for everyone!

  4. I wrote this several years ago. I'm afraid I may have been more fresh and creative then.

  5. I loved it, Jo. Fresh/Smesh; even if we become stale slices of bread...the birds still need feeding!

  6. Thanks,, I think. Um, are we bird food then? lol

  7. I loved this Jo, shows how so many of us just miss things in life. I can see myself here in the past years, worrying over things that really didn't matter! It's sad but informs the reader to live in the moment! My take is don't dwell over spilt milk, open your eyes and live your life!

  8. After I posted the comment it was one of those moments, "Well that didn't come out exactly as I intended"...all the more reason I'm not a politician I suppose. No offense intended, Jo.

  9. Dan,
    Absolutely no offense taken. I saw it as humorous. Not to worry!