Thursday, May 18, 2006

sticky home

This morning I had the following short conversation with my wife during breakfast:

Troy: I'm going to write a post about the craziness yesterday.

Heather: Good. That'll get that "thoughtless jerk" comment off the top of your web page.

Troy: I thought that was funny.

Heather: (gags)

Troy: (gets a clue) It wasn't funny?

Heather: Not really. What are people going to think of you?

Troy: (muttering to himself) It was just an attempt at sarcasm. Suppose I better clear the air on that one.

So...this is me, clearing the air now. Can you hear the "swoosh" in the atmosphere? That's my "Wet/Dry Vice Vacuum" operating.

(Cue: Really cool "swooshing" sound. Kinda like a "vortex" or somethin' like that.)

There. All my sins are washed away.

Ain't that nice?

I didn't sit down to write this morning to tell that little story, however. That was just sort of a preamble. Or maybe it was more like a "pre-ramble". Either way.

Brace yourselves now, for the funniest story ever written between 9:20 and 11 am on Thursday May 18, 2006. Of course, come 11:02, someone out there somewhere in cyberspace will write something much funnier so this doesn't count for much, but, hey, can't a guy enjoy at least 139 minutes of fame for a while?

(Pause to watch scores of imaginary heads nodding, agreeing with every word.)

Thank you for seeing it my way.

And now...the story.

So, yesterday, Heather informs me that the people who are going to buy the house in which we live now are coming over at about 5.

I ask what for.

She informs me that they want to take some measurements of the kitchen and show the kitchen to a man who will remodel it when, or before, they move in.

I think: "Okay, fine. It doesn't really affect me, since Heather will be here and I'll just let her deal with them."

Then I find out that, just at that time, Heather has an appointment with the doctor to get Nic's stitches taken out, so she won't be here.

That leaves li'l ol' me. Left to defend the fort, all by my lonesome.

(This is where you begin to feel sorry for me now, by the way.)

Oh, well. I can handle it. They'll come in, take some measurements in the kitchen and be gone within, oh, say, twenty minutes. "Not a problem," I think.

Then it hits me: "Oh, they'll be in the kitchen. Guess I better clean it."

Thank God for visiting strangers. It's about the only time the dishes get washed and the counters get cleaned. So, I clean up the kitchen and Heather mops the floor. Great. We're all ready for them.

Then I get to thinking: "You know, we should probably pick up the rest of the house, too, because I bet you they'll want to take a look around the whole house again, now that they're here."

Then I think: "Naw. Don't worry about it. They're only coming to look at the kitchen. Besides, we do live here. A little mess is okay."

So, I leave the rest of the house "as is". Big mistake.

Let's just count the "clean house infractions" now, shall we?

Let's see...there's the playroom upstairs:

-A dusty TV

-A half eaten cookie sitting atop a small table that has crayon, marker and pencil doodles on it along with hardened clumps of oatmeal, sticky apple juice residue, dirt that's stuck to the sticky apple juice residue, 20 dog hairs, 5 male human armpit hairs, and a booger stuck to the top of it.

-A sippie cup with one centimeter of fermented chocolate milk festering in the bottom.

-A train track that looks like Godzilla, King Kong and those nasty Olifant thingies from Lord of the Rings came trouncing through. Broken pieces everywhere, and what's not broken comes across as looking "broken" upon a cursory glance. Makes you not want to look more, you know what I mean...

-Every Lego we possess, scattered haphazardly across the floor. But if I were to move them, Nic would chastise me for ruining what is probably part of some very systematic scheme of his, so I daren't.

-Books, blankets and stained pillows are strewn across the room.

-Video tapes are baking helplessly in the square of intense sun that's shining on the floor which comes beaming through the skylight, turning the window into one massive magnifying lens.

-Scratched DVD's are out of their case, lying face down on the TV, the couch, the floor, the TV cart.

--Crayon on the walls, smudges on the mirrors.

--Dirty socks, unmatched, are panting on the ground, like spent, wounded soldiers.

Okay, then there's our bedroom. Our bedroom makes the playroom look like Candyland or Mr. Roger's tidy little lounge.

You walk in the door and there are at least two pair of my smelly shoes right in your way. You plug your nose and turn right. You see a demon-possessed beagle cowering in her crate. The crate is roughly the size of the stone that was rolled across the entrance of Jesus' tomb, so you must navigate around it as if you've just entered a really challenging obstacle course. You look to the left and you see:

--a low dresser with the top drawer open halfway. Socks and boxers are creeping out of the front edge of the drawer like plants growing off a second-story balcony.

--Just next to that is a small dusty TV sitting on the floor, pointed towards the corner as if it is set up for the fuzzy little gnomes that come to visit and watch TV in the night in their fuzzy little corner.

--Next to that is our laundry basket, sitting in the corner of the room, filled with damp towels, smelly socks, crumpled undies and blood-stained trousers.

--Turn the corner now and you come to a bedside table which looks like a clone of the playroom table I described earlier.

--Next to that is the bed. Unmade, but "unmade" in such a way that it could not be more "unmade" if we had tried.

--Okay, now. Between the bed and the set of drawers containing the underwear planter there is supposed to be a space where you can walk, right? Well, this space has been minimized by another little kid's table that is in the room because...I-can't-remember-why. Probably part of one of Nic's elaborate schemes, again. This is where he manufactures, um, sludge, I think. (I taste it and decide: yep. It's sludge.)

--So now I just want to get to the other side of the room. Which brings me to phase 2 of the challenge course.

To get round the end of the bed I need to dodge a TV stand that has been placed there. The TV stand has everything on it, except the TV that belongs there. There is a laptop on it, opened, operational and shining brilliantly in the dimly lit room. Underneath that on the two shelves are more video cassettes with labels peeling off them.

Okay. Just next to that, between the TV stand and the wall, where one would normally walk, is a rather honking bundled up duvet. I try to step over that and trip into the next obstacle in the room: two open closet doors. I look inside the closet, because it would be easier to avoid looking at the enormous mole on my Aunt Mabel's nose than to avoid looking in this closet, and I see not the wardrobe that leads to Narnia but the tangled mass of chaos that defines Neo's real world in The Matrix.

I turn to look at the remainder of the room and I see magazines. It looks like the floor has been turned into a big collage with all these magazines. Christianity Today, Reader's Digest, Newsweek and a primer called "How to Keep Your House Clean in 107 Easy Steps."

I look up and see the other bedside table. The top drawer is open and, lo and behold, it's a chocolate bar planter. Or is it a "Peach Loops" planter? Either way, pens and crossword puzzles, and receipts and nose hair trimmers (I need more than one) and half-eaten croissant rolls and a wine glass and a water glass and a strawberry/banana smoothie glass fill out the pot.

Okay. That's the setting. Remember the setting.

So. These strangers come over to simply measure the kitchen. They won't go in the rest of the house, I'm thinking. They'll be here and gone in just 20 minutes.

Well, the first thing they did was let their two kids off their leash. They proceeded straightaway to disturb the house's varied petri dishes. And they were not quiet about it.

I thought, "Oh well. It's okay. It's only for a little while."

But then, the adults started doing something strange. From the basement (I had returned to work after greeting them) I could hear larger footsteps moving up the stairs. They went to the playroom. They measured it. They started walking down the stairs, all the way down, into the dungeon where I work, counting the stairs. They freaking wanted to know how many freaking stairs we freaking have! They came into the basement, which was also a cesspool by the way, and said, "Hola!"

I smiled sheepishly and pointed out that the basement was a bit of a mess. To which the buyer just smiled and said, "Oh well. It's your house."

Thanks for the affirmation. Appreciate that.

They went back upstairs and then proceeded to measure, not just the kitchen, but ALL OF THE ROOMS IN THE HOUSE. INCLUDING OUR BEDROOM!

Well...because they went in our room, the dog started barking so I had to let her out.

As soon as I let her out I realized: the front door is open. The dog will get away. So, I went downstairs to shut the front door. Meanwhile the dog got into the master bathroom and began digging in the garbage and pulled out a dirty wet sock filled with warm diarrhea. Not really, but just use your imagination that what she actually pulled out was actually worse than that actually. Actually.

So, as soon as I closed the front door, I thought: Uh oh. The dog is out and our room is open and our bathroom is open. I ran upstairs to see if she had gotten into the garbage there and, yes, she had. Glad to see that the little beast did not disappoint, I grabbed her by the scruff and proceeded to clean up the mess she created while the strange buyers stood by looking on with little gargoyle type smirks on their faces. I blushed and stuffed the "items" back into the garbage can and got out of there.

Now, you should know that by this point, it was around 7 o'clock. They had been there thus far not for just 20 minutes but rather for 90 minutes! And it looked as though they were preparing to just spend the night. They were in no hurry.

The thing is: our kids usually go to bed around 7.30. 8.00 at the latest. Which means we usually try to give them dinner by 7.00 at the latest. Which was, well, now.

The only problem was: how to feed my kids while extricating them from the other kid-leaches that would not leave my kids alone. I decided it would not be possible. So I invited all four of them (our two kids plus their two monsters) plus Lexi our dog into the kitchen. I shut the door and decided, "I'll just feed all of them."

Heather had thoughtfully cooked some chicken before she took Nic to the hospital, so, of course, that's the first thing our crazy dog went for. She jumped up as if to devour my dinner in 3 nanoseconds but I caught her.

Proud of my triumph, I gave the kids some juice and a cereal bar to begin with until I could prepare something more "substantial" for them.

One spilled glass of juice later and Lexi used the opportunity while I was busy cleaning that up to get onto the chair (yes, ONTO the chair) and stick her snout onto the table where she found three quarters of a chocolate cereal bar. She dragged it to the floor as if it were still a hopping rabbit and proceeded to take some bites out of it. I caught her, though and told her to drop it. She obeyed and I handed it back to the little stranger girl to eat: "Here you go little girl. A snack covered in dog drool. Enjoy."

During this time the doorbell rang and another construction worker came in. The buyer proceeded to tell him that the entry way would have wood floors and then she started to tell him all the dimensions of all the rooms in our house. She waltzed upstairs with him, taking all the time it would take a slug to ascend Jacob's Ladder.

I ended up cooking the kids eggs and gave them some toast and gave Nic his usual oatmeal.

By the time they were done, it was 7.45. They had been there, not for 20 minutes, but for 2 hours and 15 minutes.

I put the kids to bed and had fifteen minutes to rest before Jay came over for a two hour meeting, that ended at 10.30. I quickly made myself a salad with the chicken Lexi almost ate and then went to bed.

Shortly after that, Meaghan came into the room: "I can't sleep." She laid down with me and I held her hand.

Then, Heather came home about 5 minutes after that. She laid down.

And as I closed my eyes, I laughed to myself and thanked God for our sticky home and crazy family.

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