The proverbial warm, fuzzy feelings always seems to arise when family members proclaim, “You’ve got to come home.”

Just don’t ask why.

All too often, if your family is anything at all like the clan of the Crabtrees, the answer generally isn’t something along the lines of “We miss you,” or “We’d like to spend time with you.”

Nope, in the family where most telephone conversations start with “What’s wrong?” the declaration of a needed homecoming usually means trying to determine whether you should pack body armor.

In this case, however, the “got to come home” message mysteriously mentioned a 10-ounce sports drink that had proven irksome for two adults and one teen relocated as a result of hurricane winds.

Immediately suspicion arose.

“It won’t open,” the little one proclaimed swearing that’s really why she was calling, adding that this poor inoffensive plastic bottle had been subjected to three sets of turning hands, an electric jar opener, one of those rubber grippy circles, a manual lid twister, wrench, pliers and a partridge in a pear tree apparently.

One little bottle had become the focus of a 16-year-old’s fascination and two folks’ exasperation.

And, apparently, a reason to request a visit from the family’s designated McGuyver – yours truly.

Now, I’m nothing but a somewhat pudgy, not quite old but certainly in the running gal, who spends most of each day banging keys on a computer – not exactly what one would classify as weight lifter extraordinarie.

Yet here came yours truly rolling down the road certain there’s something more to this bottle quest than these folks are letting on – surely there’s a trip to the attic, a pile of heavy stuff needing to be moved from one side of the room to the other or a silly t-shirt my niece has found and is just looking for an excuse to have someone along with cash.

Thirty or 40 little scenarios run through my head with each mile – gutter needing cleaning, a stubborn dog, my niece actually lost .... ummm anywhere including the confines of the home (the child is directionally challenged, freely admitting that she’s concerned an impending driver’s license will accidentally turn a trip to the store to a lost in Phoenix phone call).

Entering Casa Crabtree Paturnis ... otherwise known as the folks ... everything looks oddly in place, dogs come to greet, no boxes await with 400-plus piece jigsaw puzzles of chairs, exercise equipment, desks, assorted yard stuff or gizmos.

Instead, my niece runs up with a bear-hug tackle proclaiming, “Thank God you’re here. Quick. It’s in here.”

Perplexed, I follow into the kitchen where sure enough there’s a sports drink bottle sitting on the counter with a towel encircling it – just in case it got cold I guess.

“There. Fix it,” she said, pointing to what seems to be, well, nothing worthy of anything.

Walking over and grabbing the bottle, I prepare for a fight. Surely this plastic drink prison is far more than it seems or this is a Crabtree joke in the making.

Deep breath and ... pop.. it opens with all the force of opening your average clothespin.

“We loosened it for you,” my niece quickly proclaims as the folks just pretend they’d never seen the thing before in their lives.

Apparently this indeed was the emergency requiring immediate response. “Are you going to write about this too? Nobody would ever believe this chapter of the Crabtree Chronicles would they?”

Hmmm. I’m not sure anyone could relate.

Surely no one else has ever had a family member in call with slightly different request right?

Never happens.

Oh, wait, the phone is ringing again.

– Shannon Crabtree is editor & publisher of the El Campo Leader-News.

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