Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Other People's Housekeeping

So Laura has only been back to school a few days, but she's made a new friend in her class, and on Friday afternoon, the girl's mom called me to invite Laura over. They're just one subdivision away, so I was over there dropping her off lickety split. The other mother was very friendly, outgoing, great. We chatted on the driveway for a minute and then I drove away.

When I came back for the pick-up, I stepped inside. I was regaling the mom with tales of our basement project (yes I'm talking about it with everyone), and saying hi to the other members of the family. There are three kids in the family and a couple of those tiny dogs that always seem to be wet on some part of their bodies. So while I'm chatting and trying to be all getting-to-know-you, my eyeballs are magnetically drawn to look at the staircase, which is right in front of me, facing the front door. It was a stair with hardwood steps and white painted risers. What I couldn't stop ogling was a black dirt stain in the middle of each riser, as though months (and years?) of feet had kicked the riser on the way up. I thought, this is totally an instance of how you sometimes don't see your own dirt, 'cause there is no way she wouldn't be scrubbing that right this minute if she knew how it looked. I was trying to pay attention to our convo but my neck wanted to swivel around and look at the stairs. I longed for a magic eraser and a moment alone.

Anyway, we said our fond farewells and then I was in the car with Laura. She said what a great time she'd had with her new pal. Then she said, "Their house is really messy though. It was kind of hard to be there." And then I'm all ears, but I'm trying to be all casual and not lead the witness, and I want to say DID YOU NOTICE THE STAIRS?? but I also don't want to be snitty, but I am hoping simultaneously that I'm raising a child who is observant of these things, even though it is not a huge deal, and so on. So what I decided to say was, "Oh?"

And she said, "Yes, we were making cookies in the kitchen, and it was kind of dirty, and Mrs. D was using a dustbuster to catch fruit flies out of the air."

I said, "Wait, she was doing WHAT?" And Laura described how her friend's mom was standing in the middle of the kitchen, holding a hand-held vacuum, like a butterfly hunter with a net, turning and spinning this way and that, jabbing into the air with her suction wand.

Y'all, I laughed this cleansing laugh that started deep in my belly and bounced off of the sky. It rumbled over the hills and awakened tawny deer nestling in the woods, my laugh did.

Just picturing it, man!

Then we were back home. I told Laura, "Okay, do it again, act out what she was doing." She assumed a half crouch, with the turning in a circle, the crinkled brow, and the semi-fearful jabbing at the air. And she said "Vrrm! Vrrm!" to be the vacuum cleaner noise. Vrrm! Vrrm! Jab jab. Vrrm vrrm!

I wonder if that even works as a way to rid one's living space of fruit flies?

As we say down here, BLESS HER HEART. I want to spend more time with this woman. I think her housekeeping needs work, but I really like her. She has a certain joie de vivre that I want to get next to. Just a hunch.

Vrrm vrrm!

20 comments:

Kelly said...

I can just picture it! Thanks for a good laugh before bed ;)

Kelly said...

...and Linc too!! He's still laughing!

Becky said...

I'm laughed so hard just writing it all down! Don't know what it is about that scene!

Elle said...

Last time we were at Sal's place, I told the kids very clearly to take the catboxes downstairs, then outside, to empty them, then bring empty boxes upstairs to refill with clean litter.

They did not do this, carrying litter of varying cleanlinesses, both ways. Because what I said sounded like this: Mmmmmmmm catboxes outside mmm mmm mmm clean litter. They filled in the rest, obvsly, which makes them geniuses, instead of brazen challengers of my authority, clearly.

Anyhow, I was watching this parade of two-way sand & corrected them, plus explained my logic: that they could spill & my agenda minimized such a risk and no one wanted to have kitty litter spilled into their carpet, and my son (!) said, "Yeah, not even Sal." Which is less about cleanliness, and more about Sal's lack of imprinting on his home, let us call it, but still. I, too, was happy to realize they are observant of such things. Because it sure the heck seems like they take living in a nice, clean house for granted, doesn't it?

Becky said...

Yes, exactly! It's like you're happy they've noticed they don't live in filth. That's all I want!

Amy said...

That is SO funny! I might've awakened a tawny deer or two, myself. Sounds like this fruit fly extraction method is a tried and true one--must be a common problem over there. :) Please get to know this lady...she sounds very interesting.

A Day That is Dessert said...

Haha!! Abbott mentions from time to time how 'cluttered' our neighbor's house is. It's nice to think our cleanliness might wear off on them, isn't it? Anyway, glad Laura made a new friend nearby. Hope you and the mom hit it off, too.

Veronica said...

That is a great story! I love that Laura is old enough, and observant enough, to see the layers of discomfort AND humor in the situation.

And, yikes, I just had our carpets cleaned last week and that was definitely a personal experience in seeing how one can begin to not notice one's own dirt. Man, it looks SO MUCH BETTER NOW!! I want everyone to come see my carpet, except that no one is allowed to set foot on it, ever again.

Elizabeth said...

I often laugh with my friends about some of THEIR friends who are disasters as mothers. We realize how truly great we are.

The images of this woman were fantastic. I have to say that I automatically really, really like her, though, and I'm thrilled that you will tell us more. What is her online name going to be? Dustbuster Air Neighbor?

Marsha said...

Hmm...I'm not sure that I would have let the risers go unaddressed for so long, but even so I'm sure my house isn't up to the prevailing standard here! Does the mom in question engage in paid employment and/or not enjoy the ability/desire to pay for assistance? Not sure if I want the answers, because these are my current excuses for not living in sterile perfection, as is the norm in my neighborhood. I think I'll go dust something now :)

Michele R said...

I'm so glad this did not end up on the cutting room floor! I wonder if they will find the source of the fruit flies. I wonder if the vacuum got cleaned out. Curious minds want to know more.

Youngest has a friend who is also one of three boys and mom is not employed outside of the home. House is a disaster, but she is great and so are the boys. It's like she made a choice to enjoy her time with the boys and not pick up. I was both envious and shocked the first time I went over.

Sorry to be so wordy, but it'll be curious to see any comments from Laura's new friend when she visits y'all.
My Eldest visited a girl down the street and came home to say how pretty and nice their formal dining room looked all spotless. (ours has only a few papers on the table so not sure what his deal was). Hubs and I told him to feel free to knock himself out making ours look neater.

Jenni said...

I recall having a similar experience at a friend's house at Laura's age. The house was really cluttered and I just did not want to be there.

Bren said...

I have found that the regular vacuum cleaner with the extension wand is my best friend when dealing with houseflies. In the summertime, I think the flies must be drawn to the a/c or something as the three boys tromp in and out of the house. We hemorrhage so much cold air from this house, I'm surprised there aren't reindeer chewing moss next to the welcome mat.

-Houston, posting under Brenda's account

Lisa Lilienthal said...

I'm so glad you are posting all the time again! I missed this!

Steve said...

I use my "bug buster" whenever we have an infestation. No muss, no fuss!

Kate said...

can't wait to hear more about your new friend because i am guessing the stories won't stop with the fruit flies. And i have a sweet friend who keeps a lovely home but it smells to high heaven of cat piss. I don't think they smell it.

Aviva said...

Thank you for making me laugh. Again. :)

I grew up in a messy but clean house. My high school sweetheart was a bit snotty about how disorganized our house often looked. Because of course his house never had haphazard piles of stuff laying out. I can't remember why, exactly, I had to go foraging for something behind the couch and in a couple corners, but ew! There were clusters of dead bugs and trash in all those places. I then determined that a clean but messy house definitely beat out a neat but dirty house as far as I'm concerned! :) Although these days I'm trying hard to maintain a clean AND neat house. :)

Amy said...

Seven a.m. and everyone in the house is now probably awake due to my poorly muffled snorts of laughter! Yes, do get close to her -- can't wait for more.

Beth said...

I also can't wait for this lady's AKA.

Once I made friends with a lady I met at a park. I never do this, you see. I feel that meeting someone only once like that doesn't really give you a feel for the family or the person. But, trying to expand my horizons, I decided to have a playdate with her. She had two twin girls and I brought my youngest. Her house was really, really uncomfortably messy. The rug in the living room was all caked with playdough and I think there were some paint stains, too. Then, THEN, I passed the twins' room, and there was a regular old tube TV (the ones that weigh a million pounds) sitting on a wooden CHAIR in the middle of the floor, with the plug stretched across the room so tightly that it didn't even lay on the ground, it was hovering in air. I mean, you couldn't come up with a bigger recipe for disaster. I think they were trying to set up the TV so the girls could see it from their cribs. YES, they were young enough to still be in cribs. Needless to say that was the last time I talked to that lady.

Becky said...

Beth, that tv perched on a chair gives me the willies!