Sunday, October 19, 2008

Four Conversations with My Neighbors

1) I was over in Fancy Land taking Laura to a friend's house, and I stayed to have a drink with the hostess and another mom who was delivering her kid. In the course of the visit, talk turned to housework, specifically laundry, and how I think it needs to be abolished in favor of just going naked all the time, because the laundry is seriously killing me. Our hostess said that her cleaning lady does the family's laundry, and I was like, "Exsqueeze me? How does that work?" "It works great," she said. I bet it does. I don't have my cleaning lady anymore, but even when I did, she didn't do laundry.

Then the other mom piped up and said that she pays her mother to come over and do their laundry. I had an ambivalent response to this. My mom and my mother-in-law do things around my house every time they come to town--I'm certainly not opposed to accepting their help. I love it. But the notion of taking one's mother on as paid household help seemed strange to me. Or it at least took me a moment to process the idea. While I was thinking about this, the other mom went on, "She likes to sit on the couch and fold clothes and watch TV. And since it's kind of mindless work, I just tell her, 'Take all the time you need, Mom. You're not bothering anyone.'"

2) My friend Normal Neighbor will just not pick up her dog's poop. It really bugs me about her. When she's out walking her little dog, and it drops a deuce in someone's yard, she just looks around to see if anyone has noticed. A few days ago, we were both on the way to the bus stop with our dogs, and her dog stopped to make a deposit. I pulled out a plastic bag and pointedly held it out to her. "Here," I said. "Nah, it's okay," she said, "They're not home."

3) Mindy, next door, is having her basement redone. She told me she'd gotten all new paint, floors, and furniture down there, and I told her I'd like to see it when she gets everything set up. She said that she just had to get the bear skin hung on the wall. I was like, "You have a bear skin?" And she said yes, that her late husband had shot it. (Her husband died a few years ago, and she just remarried.) I said, "Wow," because I was thinking that a bear skin didn't really accord with my ideas of Mindy's taste in decorating. That is to say, while a bear skin isn't exactly my thing either, I was actually going to be impressed that Mindy was taking that kind of decorating risk. I've been in her house, and her taste, like that of a lot of my neighbors, runs to extreme matching, a reverence for a quasi-Tuscan look, and safe, idea-free interiors. Think burgundy and hotel art. Then I remembered that she'd said she was having the basement made into a "man space" for her new husband, Ron, and that one of the rooms is Harley-Davidson themed. It made me realize that she didn't see the bear skin rug ironically, or as an aesthetic object, the way I might. She saw it as a trophy, duh. We were coming at this bear skin thing from totally different angles.

When I said, "Wow," Mindy apparently thought I was expressing disapproval, because she hastened to say, "Well, we had history with that bear," which made me laugh. This black bear was stalking all around their cabin in the mountains, and even came into their house one time. They were afraid for their little dog, so her husband shot it. And now, she's using the skin of the bear that her dead husband shot to adorn the walls of her new husband's man cave. Isn't that weird? Or not weird, but striking. As Matt said, "Ron has taken on the Mantle of the Bear."

4) My crazy Frenemy Neighbor told me that as soon as Halloween is over, she's getting her Christmas trees out. She has three or four artificial trees that she puts up. I said, "You're getting an early start!" She said that she has so many ornaments that if she doesn't start in early November, she'll never get them all hung by Christmas. She went on to say that she collects ornaments, and if I'm ever bored, she offered, she'll tell me "the story of every one of them." I blacked out for a minute and then told her that I was going to make it my life's work to never be that bored.

If you like lists, check out the listy thing going on at ABDPBT:

Have a nice day!


clear screen said...

Ha -- I hope you're never that bored either.
Once a month you should use a laundry service -- do they have that there? And they fold your clothes so neatly, even your underwear.

Anonymous said...

Laundry is OK when you don't have to put it away. The folding is not so bad, but I HATE putting it away. And not a chance I would let my mother-in-law do my laundry, paid or unpaid! No thanks. :)

Keely said...

1) That's just weird. My MIL tried to do my laundry once and I freaked. What if she found the crotchless undies and the gimp mask??

2) That drives me INSANE. I've been thanked for picking up my dogs poop - it should be standard practice.

3) "Mantle of the Bear"...bwahhahha!

4) Well, if you ever suffer from could call her up?

Amy said...

That is hilarious--"you're not bothering anyone"!! Take all the time you need folding our underwear, ok?

Great list!

Lorrie Veasey said...

We developed this system: discard all laundry hampers in the household-instruct people to throw dirty clothes directly into washer and don't worry about mixing the lights and darks.

Get dressed by removing clothing directly from dryer.

this system works fairly well if you don't mind the naked people in the hallways.

A Day That Is Dessert said...

Laundry: if you have a sitter - regularly or even now and then - have them fold it while the kids are sleeping! (they can do it while they watch tv!)

That dog story really raises my blood pressure!! I find some in our yard at least once a month if not more often. If I KNEW who was doing it I would call the dog catcher!

Watch out for the ornament lady - lol! And the bear! Becky you are so funny!!

Becky said...

Gimp mask. OMG, I just died. Yeah, you gotta handle the "delicates" yourself. And it's the putting away that gets me. I fold while watching Anderson Cooper or The Daily Show. But then the folded clothes enter the Bermuda Triangle of my bedroom. The end. We do do a fair amount of getting dressed out of the dryer.

I think I am seriously going to get rid of a LOT of clothes. That might help.

And I will CERTAINLY report back when I see the bear.

Becky said...

And Clear Screen, are you doing that in Paris, you lucky jeune fille?

Michele said...

Laundry? I don't do laundry. The husband took up the laundry 25 years ago and I never looked back. After all this time I hardly lose a piece to this man and he really likes the thongs. Gives him ideas.

clear screen said...

I wish -- I'm doing the exact opposite: scrubbing my clothes in the sink using "savon de marseilles" (sounds romantic, though). Laundromats here are ridiculously expensive.

Cate Bruce-Low said...

ok, i just stumbled upon your blog via A DAY THAT IS DESSERT. you're hilarious.
and laundry? i wish that i could have a housekeeper and my mom to do those...alas!
maybe some other neighborhood dog owner should start leaving special "treats" in your neighbor's yard. or several other dog owners. then, she might get the hint.
thanks for the entertainment.

xoxo, tribeca yummy mummy

Becky said...

Thanks Cate! You know, I hadn't even thought of retaliating against the dog poop neglecter, but maybe I'll take my dog for a walk in that direction. . .

Come visit anytime!