It's not about the house.

Friday, May 16, 2008

This Cord is Continual Strife

Johnny and I (ahem) “disagreed” for months as to whether or not we had to call in the electrician. And then, when I went away, Johnny went ahead and called.

Unfortunately for him, she couldn’t make it over until after I got back, so he couldn’t get the job done and paid for without my knowing. Instead, he reported it in the list of his accomplishments as soon as I got home:

“I cleaned out the basement,” he said.

He cleans out the g-d basement every time he’s feeling yantsy. In other words, probably once a month. The basement doesn’t need cleaning out that often (whose would? it’s a basement for heaven’s sake!) and it’s not like it ends up any cleaner, anyway. I don’t even know what the heck he actually does all day down there besides drink beer and spit (a disgusting habit I’m not even going to get into at this time), but it is his default Thing to Do. Better, I suppose, than spending all day at the pub, but could he maybe clean a bathroom once in a while? I was just home from vacation, however, so what I chose to say was…

“That’s great, honey!”

Oh what the hell, I had literally just walked in the door. I could resume my regularly scheduled nagging after the I-missed-you-honey moon. He peacocked on:

“And did you notice that I cleaned the porch?” I hadn’t.

I must have been really tired from the trip to not have seen a thing like that, because the porch is usually my job, and it’s something of a contention-point between us. I wouldn’t say I do it every time I’m looking for something to do (although, to be honest, I wouldn’t say I’m looking for something to do that often; if I’ve got nothing on my schedule I’m perfectly happy to loll in bed with a book and a Dirty Jobs marathon), but I’m the one who does it when it needs to be done – say, before company comes. Big company, I mean. St. Pat’s or 4th of July-type company. Not just a friend expected for a cup of tea. Because, you see, although cleaning up the porch may have become my de facto responsibility, Johnny’s the one who keeps messing it up.

It’s where he piles his stray dogs: a broken old picture frame he “saved” out of somebody’s garage; the Christmas gift that never worked but he never got ’round to returning; pretty much anything I decide has lived out its usefulness but he can’t bear to let me throw away. I’ve come to terms with the fact that these things live out there, because at least there they can be considered on their way out to the trash; at least they aren’t shoved in a dark corner and forgotten, left to become part of our permanent stash. At least, since I’m the one who cleans it, I can sometimes sneak a dog or two off to the pound when he’s not looking. And at least it’s a three-season porch: the Collyer-clutter is at least hidden from the neighbors. (Although I do have to admit: the motley assortment of pocket-tools he drops by the door on his way out to the pub each night – the sandpaper and five-way and nail punch and needlenose and lord-knows what-all else – that shit steams my meat if I simmer on it.)

But what I said was…

“You did? Let’s have a look. Ooh… Looks great, honey!”

I can keep the peace all right. But can I keep it down?

And,” he concluded proudly, “I called Kat. She’ll be here in the morning.”

I shot him a look. No, not just “a” look – I shot him The Look. He knew I was against this. He knew. But I had just walked in the door from driving clear across the continent with Dr. One Friend – who, incidentally, was standing right between us in the front room as we spoke.

Who says the male of the species is ignorant in the ways of psychological warfare?

So what I said was…

“You—? She’ll—? …okay…whatever.”

And that was it.

This is why I hate should-we-or-shouldn’t-we conundrums. Should I eat that ice cream even though I’m on a diet? Should they build that house even though it’s on a wetland? Should we tear out the ironing board even though it would make a lovely spice cabinet?*

As long as the answer is no, the question's still out there, hanging like a sword all over everything. Until you let it drop – answer yes, do it, and move on – the issue is never really resolved. But once it’s done, it’s done: there is no going back. Trust me. I’ve wound up neck-deep in Ben & Jerry’s enough times to earn my bona fides on this one. But at least the Ice Cream Battles were all me against myself. This one was me v. Johnny, and he had dropped the sword. I’d lost. It's not easy for me to admit that, but I had.

And thank god I did, too.

This time.

to be con’t (again)…

*Foreshadowing: your key to quality entertainment.


su said...

Well let me say this about that.. I say spitting is d'gusting BUT and that is a big smelly hairy Butt, not as disgusting as blowing your nose into the sink by holding one nostril and blowing! A fine Albanian habit!

Sparkle Plenty said...

I'm electrified! I'm on the edge of me seat waiting for the next installment! Juice us!

(Please Note: While I believe that your writer's troll is a thing of the past tense, I think I've pinpointed the moment that you cursed yourself. May 1, 2008, you wrote: "I may not be posting here every single day in the near future. I really do have a project I'm supposed to be working on, and I missed most of last summer because I let this blog and the AssVac and last year's writing project take up all my time. I want to get me some fresh air this year, dang it, even if it means I have to sit at sawhorses to do it!" Feeling slighted, I think your blog hired the writer's troll to do you a nasty. If it's still an issue, you might want to make amends by burning some sage and writing an ode to your blog. Or at least a series of haikus--preferably not insulting?)