We borrowed a stage for Strangerville Live after Meg didn't "want to be murdered" by my attempt to build one.

Under no circumstances was she willing to stand on something I created. I don't know whether this is because she deems me incompetent or malicious, and honestly I don't know which is more offensive. Or true.

Once it was determined that building the stage was not a viable option, we went back to the drawing board, hoping to figure out where the hell we could get one. A stage. Not a drawing board. Although now that I think about it, I'm in the market for one of those, too. That, and a Heart of the Ocean.

I couldn't think of where else to find a stage, and that's when I took to what the kids' moms are calling "The Facebooks."

It seemed like a shot in the dark, but I posted there, asking if anyone had a stage that could fit in the back of a Subaru Outback and had very little history of killing Meg's unborn children.

My friend Emily responded by sending me somewhere around 600 text messages with DIY ideas, unaware that Meg had already vetoed even the continued suggestion that I would be allowed around more tools.

But then, a blast from the past awoke. Halee From High School, AKA The Room of Requirement, sent me a message and was like, "I have a stage that is exactly what you need."

The only thing you need to know about Halee From High School is a thing that happened when we were 9. One day Cathie was at the school, probably to talk with my teacher about behavioral issues. I was taken by Cathie out to her car, probably being held in the air by my ear. Just as Cathie reached out to open the door with the hand that was not using to beat me, Halee From High School (whose last name at the time was "From Elementary School") jumped out from behind a bush and yelled in award-winning mockery, "hey Eli! What are you gonna do? Kiss your maaaaaamaaaaaaaa?!"

It was a burn that's scars have never fully healed. One that is still referenced by my insensitive family with some regularity.

Well, Halee From High School has never escaped the soul-wrenching guilt of her adolescent bullying, and I imagine that that is why she decided to graciously lend her services last week.

We agreed to pick up the stage two days before the show. Meg volunteered Stephen to do it, I can only assume, because she wanted as much distance as possible between me and the thing that would support her weight as she hosted.

Stephen did so, like the good and faithful servant that he is.

We set up the stage. It worked perfectly. And then Meg and Stephen hauled it back to their house.

I offered to return it to Halee From High School, which I did last night.

Meg told me I could stop by and pick it up any time that evening, but not to expect to see her because she was going to be out getting a massage and she was NOT TO BE BOTHERED. It didn't occur to me until much later to ask her how the hell someone who is 17 months pregnant can get a massage in the first place.


In any event, I left my house around 8:00 PM to pick up the stage. Skylar and Duncan came with me because Skylar has started this new thing where he insists on riding in the car wherever I go so he can sit quietly with headphones and study and not talk to me or ever turn off any lights in the house or unplug his heating blanket when he leaves WHY DO YOU NEED A HEATING BLANKET ANYWAY SKYLAR IT IS BASICALLY STILL SUMMER

I got lost somewhere back there.

The point is, Skylar came with me and I might murder him one day.

We showed up to Meg Manor 10 minutes later. Stephen answered the door and I swear to you we stood there in near silence staring at each other for the better part of a minute before I realized that Meg had definitely not told him we were coming over and he had no idea what the hell we wanted from him at around 8:10 PM on a school night.

We gathered the stage pieces and drove onward.

Halee From High School owns a performing arts center 20 minutes south of my house, which is where she keeps the Room of Requirement. We found this place, and then wandered inside, where we discovered what appeared to be a tween interpretive dance group in full practice mode, and no Halee From High School.

I texted her, and then realized that I was most definitely being viewed by the tweens as a creepy middle-aged man wandering through a dance studio at around 8:30 PM on a school night EVEN THOUGH I'M NOT MIDDLE-AGED STOP BEING RUDE TWEENS I'M YOUNGER THAN YOUR MOMS AND THEY AREN'T OLD EITHER JUST WAIT UNTIL YOU'RE MY AGE SO WHAT IF I'VE BEEN HAVING HIP PROBLEMS STOP SNAPCHATTING ME TO YOUR FRIENDS.

So, although I didn't know where Halee From High School was (I later found out she was sick), I just started unloading the stage pieces and setting them inside while Skylar held the door open and otherwise did not help at all.

By the time I got home I started receiving texts from Meg about how she forgot to tell Stephen we were coming and how there are special pillows for pregnant woman who get massages and to stop poking holes in her story and how I could never understand her life.

We walked into a still-fully-lit house. Skylar climbed under his baking heated blanket. Duncan snuggled down next to him. I pulled out my knitting needles to restart, for the 12th time, my new mitten project.

And it was a pretty good night.

My evening view, every evening, for the next four years.

~It Just Gets Stranger