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I have an asphalt driveway. Each year, I have it coated over to fill any cracks that developed over the winter. Every year my kids yell at me.

“Ma, your driveway is slippery! What the hell did you do to it?” As if I personally did something. No, I hire people to screw it up for me. Not that I INTENTIONALLY want it to be slippery. On the contrary, someone with osteoporosis can’t be that cavalier with her hips. No, I mean well. It’s just that, no matter whom I hire to spread the sealer, they lie to me.

“I have had problems in the past with the surface being slippery,” I begin.

“No problem, lady. Ours won’t be slippery at all.”

“Are you sure?” I question them gullibly.

“I promise on my mother’s grave,” comes the earnest reply. All I can say is that he probably killed his mother by coating her driveway and then shoving her onto it to fall and break every bone in her aging body.

Sure enough, when it’s done, it looks fine. The cheque is cashed and the workers long gone before the first rain shows them up as the ‘liar, liar, pants on fire’ chiselers they are. A smart person would tack the receipt, with the name of the company in red, on the wall beside the DO NOT HIRE sticker. But that’s not me. So I can’t remember from year to year who did the sealing for me. It stands to reason that I may have hired the same scheisters two years running. But this year I hired a new crew. They were in the neighbourhood, manually pulling their sealing gunk around in a huge heating unit. The fact that they were two guys on foot should have sounded alarm bells in my head. But I was desperate. Besides, some of my neighbours had used their services. Again, the questions: “Are you sure this will be a non-slip surface?” I pleaded.

“Of course, ma’am,” he answered, looking puzzled, even astonished that I should ask such a foolish question.

“Will you absolutely promise that it will be a matte finish?”

“I promise,” he said with an earnest expression that told me, if he’d had a stack of Bibles, he would have sworn on them. It turns out I should have been the one swearing…and I don’t mean oaths.

Crazy D was the first to discover just how NOT MATTE the driveway was. Returning from a bike ride, he raced onto the drive , skidded and crashed in a heap on his bike. He was badly banged up and his bike cost over $500 to fix. It required parts that had to be ordered and delivered by carrier pigeon so he was irate not only about the damage but the week he couldn’t ride.

Things were so critical I felt I should warn Gill via email what to expect when she places foot on the driveway. “Ma, you promised you’d get a non-slip surface this time! How hard can that be?”

“I tried. I really did. But there’s really no way to be sure until after it rains or snows on the new surface. Do you want me to hogtie,lash the guys to the front tree and hold them hostage from August until the autumn rainy season?”

“Well, if you care anything at all about your poor, unsuspecting children using the driveway you would! Think especially of me, your darling firstborn, the one inflicted with hereditary diseases (from you) and with Osteoporosis as a result. I’ve already broken my wrist on ice in front of your house. Now you want me to break a hip too? Ma, if I weren’t so fond of you, I’d use one of my four lawyer friends to sue you for damages. Then I wouldn’t have to bother with my day job!”

“Nice. After all I’ve done for you, this is how you treat me?”

“Ma, I’m just saying…next time, don’t fall for the next sketchy guy with a hand cart who thinks you’re an easy mark.”

“Oh… then I guess you’re not going to like your birthday gift either…”