It's not about the house.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Starving Hysterical Naked

You probably think I went missing again, don’t you? Well, you’re wrong. I have been here these last few days, I swear to god, you just couldn’t see me because I was lurking in the corners with my tendrils all pulled in. It’s what we unfulfilled-potential, biology-majors like to call an Adaptive Behavior. New threats come at you from on high, you learn to carry a snail shell on your back and walk in zig-zag patterns, stuff like that.

I might have got that reference a little wrong; it’s been twenty years since I was in the lab. And my threats weren’t threats so much as inconveniences, coming at me from the total opposite of high. But the point is: I felt violated. Not by life or by the universe or by my own bad karma (except maybe that karma thing a little), but by—

All right, look: what happened is my GPS got stolen. Okay? There, I said it. Out of my car, in my driveway, right here in this throw-up suburb where we live. Last Sunday (Sunday!), at three o’clock in the god-awful morning.

We know exactly when it happened, see, because the car alarm went off and Johnny – instead of looking out the window to see if somebody might be oh, I don’t know, tampering with the car – came to my bedroom to wake me up and tell me to get the keys and go outside and shut it off. This is the same man who called me into the living room the other day to kill a spider, “because he knows how much I hate them.” There are times I want to tie a rope around his waist and dangle him off a ledge until I can stomach the thought of him again, I swear to god.

But I was unrousable on Sunday at 3:00 a.m., not even for a shouty husband or a car alarm, and eventually they both stopped going off. Then that afternoon I got in the car to find the contents of my armrest/catchall strewn about the front seat, and the GPS – which I got for Christmas and had used exactly twice – was gone. 

I’m working on a larger piece about all that. About how I actually got two GPSes (GPS’s? GPii? GPeez?) for Christmas – one from my husband and one from my dad – and about how metaphorical it is both that that happened to me, and that in three short months I’ve managed to work my way back down to none again. But this Larger Piece I’m working on is Complicated. It has honest-to-god Truth in it and crap –  not just the snarky, button-pushing venom I spill here. So it’s going to take a while to get right and, frankly, I’m hoping it will find itself a nicer home. In fact, if you live in the Boston area (or love me enough to travel), you might just get to hear me read it right out loud, on an actual stage, some lovely (and infinitely more auspicious) Sunday in the month of May...

But anyway. So that GPS thing happened here last Sunday. And then on Monday, one of Johnny’s friends (one of Johnny’s friends I cannot stand, by the way – in other words: not George) walked right into our house at an indecent hour of the morning. And by “indecent hour” I mean ten o’clock, but Johnny was still sleeping (see above, re.: the ledge), and I was passing through the dining room on my way to a post-workout shower. If I hadn’t been so fleet of foot, Johnny’s Hateful Friend would have been permanently blinded by the sight of sweaty me parading around in a ratty towel. Hm. Maybe I should just go ahead and let him see me next time. Teach him to go walking into people’s houses unannounced...

Except that there will never be a next time, because we’re going to start locking some damn doors around here. And if Johnny doesn’t like it, he can get one of his Townie friends to cut him down.

All right, fine, you’re right: that isn’t fair. Johnny has no say in whether or not car doors get left locked, seeing as how I’m the only person around here who drives. And I have not willingly locked a car door since 1991, when someone smashed the window of that poo-brown Buick Regal and stole the cheap-ass, dime-store boom-box I kept on the back seat. That smash-and-grab happened downtown, under the expressway (when the expressway used to be there), and although I can’t imagine that the perpetrator got more than a buck fifty for that gray plastic piece of poo, I’ve always relished the idea of its new owner pressing Play on the cassette I left there, and being blasted at maximum volume with the soundtrack to Jesus Christ Superstar. I did manage to get out of a speeding ticket two months later by pointing to the Hefty bag taped over that still-missing window and claiming to have just that night been burgled of my purse. But all the same: it would have been a much warmer winter if I’d just left the door unlocked in the first place. Which is what I have done, ever since.

So the unlocked car’s not Johnny’s fault. But the house is.


The part that’s not his fault about the house is the fact that the front door doesn’t close for, oh, about thirteen months out of the year. I mean, it closes – in the sense that there’s no space between the door and jamb – but it gets all sticky and it doesn’t latch. To open it from the outside, you have to pull the handle while simultaneously banging the top corner with your hand. From the inside you don't need the handle: just kick the bottom till the top corner juts out, then pull it down.

Come to think of it, that’s Johnny’s fault, too. Yes, it is! Because the whole reason the door won’t close is that it’s swollen, and the whole reason it’s swollen is that when he painted it he never did the edge. It’s a simple enough solution: take it off, plane it down, sand and paint the edges, hang it back up, and voilá! But no. Johnny says it doesn’t close because the porch is sinking. Which it is. That’s true. But my way would work, goddamnit. And when I (magnanimously and acquiescently, I must say) suggested a fix for the saggy porch – which was to jack it up and support it on some of the collection of cement blocks he’s been accumulating in the yard to, I don't know, weight him down so he can stay with me after the Rapture comes or something – he said no. He said we have to dig and pour a goddamn foundation underneath it if we’re gonna jack it up. So instead we have done nothing, and the door still doesn’t close.

All right. You don’t want me going any farther down this road right now, just trust me. So let’s skip ahead to the few days a year the door actually does close, and how at those times Johnny insists that leaving it unlocked is the neighborly thing to do.

There was a time I didn't mind this. I grew up in a small town, with friendly neighbors, and I thought I missed that when I lived in the city. So when Johnny and I moved out to Quincy I used to say I didn't mind. That's when it was only George letting himself in our apartment. George, who always called ahead to tell us he was coming, who knocked when he got there, then opened the door and hollered a hello before actually stepping in. But now, you see, I miss the city. Desperately. I never wanted this goddamn house in the first place, and now I have to share it with all manner of Townville natives who waltz straight in while I’m in my altogether, plus presumed junkies rifling through my armrest/catchall at three in the morning...

And I’m feeling a little violated, if it’s all the same to you.

Hm. There doesn't seem to be much of a punchline, does there? How 'bout this: 

Q: What do you call someone who doesn't fart in public? 

A: A private tutor



Charlie said...

Hey! That was my joke!

ege said...

You didn't actually think all the shit I published here was original, did you?

12ontheinside said...

FINALLY! Finally, I can feel all superior. Every time you write something like "My house is a bloomin money pit" or "I lose my car easily" I have to go all agreeable and say "Yeah me too". This time, I get to be all superior. Picture me now. I'm shaking my head and muttering "Jeez, at least I lock my freaking door!"

Jenni said...

Maybe a phone with GPS + a full keyboard for texting is in your future?

lili said...

I am going to use your toot joke.
XX lili

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