My brother took a trip to New Jersey with his girlfriend, Nicole, and my nephew, Max. He’s there right now, in fact.
I have been getting IM messages from him, Nicole, my mom, and my other brother (logged in to my mom’s chat, so that her messages were coming in from two different people, double time) all at once, while they are all under the same roof.
Today, Joe typed the following rant at me:
this place is gross
there’s a pile of rotting food next to the kitchen sink
all the “clean” dishes are coated in hard water scum
the silverware drawer looks like it’s full of rust
there’s no soap in the bathroom
the brita is also perma-coated with hard water scum making it difficult to even get a drink of water
the refrigerator is of course full past capacity and there are some unpleasant odors coming out of there
mother has all this food she’s preparing, and she’s just leaving it out
is she intending to leave it out until tomorrow? I guess so
also the place has stinkbugs
Surprisingly, this surprised me.
For the past two weeks, my mother has been messaging me about how much cleaning she’s been doing. They’ve had all kinds of renovations done, replacing the floors and counters, painting the walls, and she’s been gushing about how great it all looks. She can’t wait for me to see it.
And bizarrely, I bought into it! I believed that that house could be clean, tidy, pleasant. Me, the master of pessimism. I was open minded and hopeful and I had visions of normal, non-squalor-like living.
Maybe I should still reserve judgment, because I haven’t seen it for myself. But if *Joe* is calling it gross, that could be a very bad sign. He might have increased his level of domesticity by about 78% via living with an adult female for 2 or 3 years now. But my brother, god love him, is not exactly tidy or well kept. I won’t go into any disparaging details, as I don’t think I need a written record of the slovenliness. My brain will remember. But I will say that if Joe thinks it’s bad, that’s a bit worrisome. And also, stone throwing and glass houses and stuff.
And then I just feel so sorry for my poor mother, who I know thinks she’s been trying so hard. Her efforts fall so far below the mark, despite her intentions, that it’s heart breaking. I feel sad. She’s been so proud of the house, and all the new improvements and how much she’s done. From 3000 miles away, I can just feel bad for her.
Once plopped in the midst of it, I get enraged.
Why must there be bottles of pills and vitamins all over the counter?
-Because the cabinets are too full to put them all away.
But why are there 5 sacks of all-purpose flour in the cabinet?! Why?
And the fridge? Why can’t I fit a single, solitary baby-bel cheese in here?
Oh? Is it because there are stacks and heaps of tupperwares and cartons, in various states of closure crammed in there?
And what in the hell is this sludge in the bottom of the vegetable drawer?
It was a vegetable once, and therefore deserves a spot in the drawer?
So on and so forth, until I have frothed in to a fit of rageful productivity, clearing out the fridge and the cupboards and throwing crap out. Which means that I am a bullying domineering and unreasonable boor-bitch, who comes storming in on a broomstick of righteousness, leaving a wake of violation and defensiveness.
Then, I descend into a quagmire of fug, stop showering, and hole up in the cat piss smelling living room watching non-stop episodes of The Sopranos, mildly in sequence.
I guess I can get mad all I want to that my mother is my mother. But I can’t change that, and that madness would be much better spent raging against the people to whom I must explain the difference between a page and a sheet of paper. If she’s happy about the house and it seems clean to her, then so long as she doesn’t give herself salmonella, I can be ok with it. From a continent away, it all doesn’t look so bad.