It’s March Break, and I am cleaning. It’s been waiting for a while, the cleaning.
My love: Um… honey? Do you think… maybe… you could take down the Christmas tree today, baby?
Me: But… it’s pretty.
My love: No, sweetie pie… It’s weird.
True love means tempering the weird with terms of endearment.
For the last few months my youngest daughter has been living in my house in town. It’s a tiny-wee-cutesy-little-abode that I bought for a song before the Man of my Dreams swept me off my feet in a whirlwind of camo and romance and venison wrapped in bacon. It started out clean, but, it’s been my Beeb’s home for a while now. That’s what I call her; Beeb. Also Mollusk, Mollevolent, Morry, and Poopy Head. All names that are much more fun than the name I gave her at birth. I was so boring when I was young. Anyway, the Beeb is messy.
Cleaning a house your spawn has lived in is like walking into a fart in the grocery aisle. It’s nasty, it smells, and whoever did it is long gone. If you listen carefully you can hear the perpetrator giggling in the distance.
There are roughly five hundred cheese slices in the fridge. Two bottles of pop. And something that used to be a Subway sandwich. Either that or she scooped up some marsh sludge and stuffed it into a Subway bag and stored it in the fridge.
Apparently, there have also been festive gatherings in my wee cottage. There’s a message scrawled on paper stuck to the fridge which reads: “We’se gonna Fuck Shit Up tonight, bitches!” I am most relieved to see that all the words are spelled correctly, and I can only hope that the Fucking Up of Shit was not responsible for the strange smell emanating from the recycle bag which is overflowing with… recyclables. Bottles, cans and pizza boxes. My child is an environmentally friendly Fucker Up of Shit. I will sleep well tonight, knowing I raised her right.
As I am cleaning, my elderly neighbor appears in the doorway. She’s wearing her husband’s gigantic flannel, slippers and curlers. The curlers are held in place with toothpicks, one of which is making an alarming dent in her forehead every time she raises her eyebrows. She glances at the recycle bag and nearly pierces her brow.
She wants to know what I’m doing, where the Beeb is, and if I have seen anyone trying to break into her house. She offers to help me, but her feet are bad, and she knows she should go to the hospital, but “you have to wait so goddamn long, might as well just put up with it.” She tells me she will miss my darling child, because the young people are so good. So pleasant.
I glance at the message on the fridge.
I say, “I hope she wasn’t too noisy.”
“Oh no, she never did anything bad.”
I look out the window to the scattering of cigarette butts composting in the garden. There’s a beer bottle poking out of a melted snow pile. The dogs seem to have found a clump of what looks distressing like frozen vomit.
“Well, that’s good. I’m glad you weren’t annoyed with her antics.”
“Oh no, dear. She’s just lovely. You know, I always felt better when she was over here, because I knew she was looking out for me.”
She gets teary-eyed, and I discretely push a mould-furred bottle under the garbage bag between us. I am sorely tempted to remove her toothpick, which is surely going to leave a scar, but I thank her for her kindness instead, and she leaves, cursing the weather as she goes.
I love Nova Scotia. I love that this adorable grandma tottered over in her slippers to say nice things about my child, who apparently tests the doneness of spaghetti noodles by throwing them on the wall to see if they stick. I know this because there are several… spaghettis… petrified on the cupboard doors. The paint comes off when I remove them. That’s not pretty… that’s weird, Poopy Head.
As I haul clinking bags of recyclables to the shed, I see the dogs eating the pile of vomit. Time to go. I have a Christmas tree to take down, after all.
Buy my book on amazon: That Thing That Happened, by Libby Broadbent
Follow me on twitter: @LibbyBroadbent
Like my facebook page: Libby Broadbent on facebook
Follow my blog: www.libbybroadbent.com