« Blame Canada | Main | The great thing »

06/09/2011

Icumen in

My aunt had a helper named Nora. Nora came weekly to clean the house, organize whatever she hadn't already encapsulated in a succession of Ziploc bags, and take care of the laundry. Like Jack Aubrey's Preserved Killick, she was absolutely steadfast and, although hilarious, also a little bit terrifying. When I visited my aunt I'd invariably find these weird agglomerations of stuff, all organized after a fashion, but in arrays that made no sense: a plastic bag containing three rubber bands; several used fabric softener sheets, each folded with naval precision; a plastic bag containing another several plastic bags, nested matryoshka-style; a handful of foreign change; a shower cap from a hotel; and several tiny tubs of non-dairy creamer, like: what? And I'd ask my aunt what those things had in common, what Nora could possibly have been thinking, and she would placidly answer, "Whatever Nora wants is perfectly fine with me." Well, okay, then. Back into the glove compartment it goes.

I only heard my aunt complain about Nora once. "She was sitting on the sofa folding laundry when R. came over," she said, speaking of a male friend of hers. "It was all socks and underwear, and she just kept...on...folding! Nora picked up a pair of my drawers," demonstrating by stretching out her arms to about four feet apart, as if her smallclothes had been gigantic, "and just kept...on...folding!" With that she shook out her imaginary underpants so extravagantly that you could imagine her taking flight, and continued, "Right in front of R.!"

And this has nothing to do with anything, except that I thought about it this weekend when we had houseguests. (God, they are lovely people; they made everything -- everything! -- easier and more fun, and I mean that beyond the carload of liquor they brought.) Specifically, I felt relieved that I'm honest here about our life, because nothing destroys your pretensions like having people in your home, seeing how you really live. It's like those clean-your-house-quick-for-company tips, that involve things like putting your unwashed dishes in the trunk of your car or someplace. That's fine for the duration of a quick cup of coffee, but any more than that and someone's bound to need a set of jumper cables, or possibly flap out your step-ins.

Because -- I am getting to the point, but slowly, as is my way, and excruciatingly, as is also my way -- Charlie lost his shit on Sunday. He and our friends' son had been playing pretty well up to that point, but there had been indications that Charlie was getting a little edgy, and I didn't pick up on them quickly enough. It wasn't that anything extraordinary happened; I think it was just the continuing fact of having another kid around, someone he was expected to play nicely with and defer to in some things, and being decidedly off routine...you know, just.  And after dinner, when there was a dispute about a toy both boys wanted, Charlie simply exploded.

It was the kind of wobbly he hasn't pitched in months, but the sort of thing we've seen before. I didn't expect it, but its intensity didn't shock me, especially when I later considered the lead-up. I was embarrassed, not only because it happened but because I agonize over how to handle it even when no one else sees it. Mortified because I didn't see it coming, and by now I should have learned to do that, and to help Charlie by taking some of the pressure off when that happens. Even now I'm squirming a little bit to know we showed so badly. But if our friends hadn't known before, if I hadn't been honest here, how much worse it would have been. I'm grateful that our friends were so kind about it; I'm also glad, for many reasons, that I tell us like we are.

...

Here is the only thing I have to say about Rep. Anthony Weiner: He repeatedly introduced into Congress the Family Building Act, calling for insurance coverage for infertility treatment. Just thought I would point that out, lest his wang overshadow his work.

...

Charlie's evaluations continue. Yesterday, on a day that topped 90 degrees, one of the assessors sent him home with Silly Putty, which immediately melted into a runny, sticky web, instantly indivisible from everything it touched. Although Charlie said it was a reward for participating cheerfully in the process, I can only see it as an additional test: how long it takes your mother to give up, saying, "Screw it, it's just a ruined T-shirt. And a pair of shorts. And socks. And his hair. And duodenum."

...

Now let me see: card table house...

Ben-table

Ben-table-2

...lemonade stand...

Charlie-stand

Charlie-stand-2

...aaaaaand done.

Yeah. Hey, good thing summer's nearly over, huh? Because I've pretty much shot my wad.

Comments