The entire room reeked of gorgonzola. Luckily, that part was relatively easy to explain. However, the explanation for the smell only added to my list of imperfections: first Housekeeping, now Parenthood. But maybe I should back up a little.
So we had some friends over for brunch last Sunday, mostly because we like them, but also partially because every once in awhile I just need an excuse to cook food that I know Pretty Bad Dad will hate. (Although I could certainly do it—and, in fact, sometimes do—for, like, an ordinary Wednesday night dinner, I do make some effort to consider his taste for everyday meals, because I don’t want to wind up eating ALL the leftovers by myself . . . er, I mean, because I love him.) To wit: pear and gorgonzola mini-pizza appetizers. So easy (especially if you don’t make your own crust, which I do not, because I have been unable to achieve homemade pizza crust that doesn’t taste like a butt made out of particle board), and yet slightly more shi-shi-poo-poo than throwing some cubed cheddar and grapes onto a tray, so that your guests feel like you made a special effort for them. But I digress.
As I was prepping the pizzas (so that they’d be ready to pop into the oven as soon as our guests arrived), our inquisitive young son came down from the guest room (where he’d been watching old Electric Company DVDs, because who doesn’t love Easy Reader?), saw the tub of gorgonzola crumbles on the kitchen island, and inquired as to what was in there. And when it comes to food, such questions are usually immediately followed by a request to taste whatever it is (and we’re not necessarily talking finished product, here; the kid has tasted baking powder, baking soda, flour, paprika, seasoned salt, buttermilk . . . Dude is not afraid—and as much as I love that about him, I just know that one day I’m going to turn away for a second, and then turn back to find him licking a raw pork chop or chugging Liquid Smoke straight from the bottle). So I was ready for it—but gorgonzola is, in my opinion, somewhat of an acquired taste, so imagine my surprise when he immediately LOVED IT and asked if he could have some in a bowl to eat. Not one to discourage adventurous tastebuds (or adventures in constipation), I fetched him a small bowl and put a couple of spoonfuls of gorgonzola crumbs into it for him. He happily wandered away with his “treat”.
Soon guests arrived, and the nosh-and-gabble got into full swing. The kid came down to greet our guests—and brought with him his empty bowl, requesting more gorgonzola. At that point, since a full-on-meal was imminent, I told him he’d have to wait until after brunch.
Why did I think that was going to be the end of it?
So anyway, we all gathered ‘round the table for eggs, bacon, stuffing-and-fake-sausage casserole, and various pastries, and the kid enjoyed his fair share. Heck, he even cleaned his plate before wandering back off to play. As the visit progressed, the discussion turned to quilting, because our friend Nancy, who was one of our brunch guests, is a quilter. This led to a discussion about the key differences between traditional and modern quilting, for the benefit of the quilt-ignorant peons among us (namely, PBD and Yours Truly). Some of it, of course, was obvious for anyone who’s taken a high school art course. Still, as I listened to Nancy talk about the tenets of traditional and modern quilting, I wondered: how would one categorize a quilt made in a traditional pattern . . . out of scraps from a thousand 1970s leisure suits?
Child, willya LOOK AT THAT THING? It is incredible merely by virtue of being so WTF!
It’s what would happen if Mary Ingalls got it on with Huggy Bear and gave birth to bedding. Stare at it for 30 seconds, and visions of Granny Clampett doing The Hustle completely co-opt your brain.
How, you may wonder, does one acquire such a treasure? It was made a few decades ago by two of my great-aunts, and shortly thereafter wound up in the possession of my parents, who added a groovy orange and brown border so that it would fit their king-sized bed. Then, a handful of years ago, when my mom (temporarily) became a semi-resident of my house (so that she could provide day care for my infant son), she brought the quilt with her, to put on her bed in the guest room. And there was NO WAY I was letting her take that bad boy back home with her. I mean, come on—would YOU?
Anyway, I had to show it to Nancy, right? You don’t keep this kind of magic under wraps. But here’s the thing about me: as pathetic as it is, one of my major goals in life is for my house to regularly exist in such a state of cleanliness that I could welcome unexpected visitors into my home without having to apologize for anything. (As a corollary to that goal, I would also have to have unexpected visitors, which doesn’t really happen in the age of cell phones, but honestly, it would be enough just to have a home free of clutter, dust bunnies, and crust-based mystery splatters.) However, I have two dogs, a four-year-old, a full-time job and a freelance gig on the side (in addition to a spouse who also has all of the above), so you understand that I’m fighting an uphill battle against an avalanche of mountain goat poo. Lately, then, it’s pretty much all I can do to rid the “visitor areas” of our house (kitchen, living room, dining room, and half bath—basically the first floor, with the exception of the laundry room, because I can close that door) of the top two layers of ick before an invited guest arrives.
Even more lately, however, my son has begun taking his buddies upstairs to his room to play when they come over (which often means their parents wander upstairs to fetch or check on them), and that not only adds another room to tidy up, but also requires the closing of EVERY OTHER DOOR UPSTAIRS. (I don’t think it’s obvious we’re trying to hide something—do you?) But since I’m not blessed with Rosie the Robot, it’s an M.O. with which I have grown comfortable (though it did bite me in the toot once when, having found the downstairs (read: visitor-friendly) bathroom occupied, a guest blithely wandered upstairs to seek out another one… suffice it to say, the therapy was pricey—MINE, not HIS, because although I’m sure he was traumatized by the sight of (a) the petri dish that is my shower, and (b) every flippin’ bra I own hanging from a single doorknob, I was even more traumatized by the idea of someone finding out how I really live). But as usual, I digress.
Point is, I had to show Nancy this quilt. Which was on the bed in the guest room. Which had not been adequately prepared for visitors. So guess what I did.
I took her in there anyway.
I took her all the way in there, knowing that the entire chamber was in a state of Hoarders-level degeneration: there was laundry explosion (clean laundry piled high in baskets, and “maybe-I-can-eek-one-more-wearing-out-of-these” pants completely obliterating the antique chair), with clumps of dried dog-paw dirt decorating both dog beds and carpet, the gaping maws of recently-emptied suitcases strewn across the rest of the floor, and copious pairs of shoes treating the whole joint like a swingers’ club—and every bit of it was blanketed with a fuzzy coating of dog hair and dust. What I did not anticipate, however, were the candy wrappers, dirty dishes, orphaned toy parts, random discarded costumes, and other chaotic flotsam that had apparently resulted from allowing a 4-year-old to spend all day in there watching Electric Company by himself.
And then, of course, there was the smell. As I mentioned (a long, long time ago), the entire room reeked, when we walked in, of gorgonzola. And while it was true that I’d allowed the boy to enjoy a small cupful of stinky cheese upstairs before our guests arrived, at this point, that was HOURS in the past, so why would it still smell like . . . ?
I’ll tell you why. Because somehow, while the grown folk kicked back at the dining room table discussing centuries-old handicrafts, our dear son had managed, over the course of several stealth trips to the fridge to refill his little cup, to consume the ENTIRE TUB OF GORGONZOLA (as evidenced by the empty tub I found on the kitchen island upon returning downstairs). Sure, I’d used some of the cheese on the pizzas, but seriously, it was just a sprinkle, so the kid easily sucked down a good 85% of that mutha all by himself, in our guest room (and that’s accounting for a coupla cheese chunks I found smeared into the pillows on the guest bed). That right there is stellar parenting. But getting back to my point:
I took her in there.
Y’all don’t realize what a huge thing that is for me. My husband does, because when I arose from the table and bade Nancy follow me to see The Quilt of Pure Polyester Winning, he didn’t even try to hide his shock: “You’re taking her UPSTAIRS?” he inquired with sky-high brows. Granted, part of his surprise stemmed from his own horror at the idea of someone seeing the state of our guest room, but another part of it was because he knows how I roll, and was probably wondering at that point what kind of alien shape-shifter had inhabited his beloved wife’s persona. Nonetheless I, with not a single drop of liquor coursing through my veins, replied, simply, “Yes.” and bravely marched upstairs.
And here’s why: because October sucked. The entire month was replete with mishaps. In the wee morning hours of the very first day, I went ass-over-teakettle on my morning run. Apparently that was a portent of things to come, because the next morning, I fell again. The morning after that, I made it through the run (dangit, here comes Barry Manilow: “I made it throuuuuugh the ruuuuuuun . . .”) without taking any tumbles . . . and then totaled my car that evening. Since then, ongoing issues from the car accident have made any type of physical activity into a total crap shoot (case in point: two blocks of Trick-or-Treating had me gimping for a week, and just the other day I threw my back out drying my hair).
So yeah. October was not exactly a special fuzzy month for me. So far, November hasn’t been so bad, but in the process of recovering from Sucktober, I have made a few decisions, influenced in part by inspiration (I have met some really cool people lately, and am also in the middle of my second Isabel Gillies memoir, whereby I have arrived at the belief that a brain identical to mine actually lives in someone else’s head… and if they made TWO of these suckers, they must be worth something, right?) and in part by sheer exhaustion. And one key decision that has come out of my “inspiraustion” (look for it in Webster’s in about seven years, because it is totally a thing) is just to be FOR REAL. Y’know? And for someone like me, who has spent her life hoping that other people never find out she farts, it’s not easy. It’s kind of a big deal. In fact, after several twitchy moments spent standing in the midst of my guest room grossness with Nancy as she checked out my Pimp on the Prairie quilt (paying no attention to the mess, bless her), I ended up scuttling her out of there as quickly as I could (without seeming anxious about it, because in addition to flatulence, anxiety is another thing I like to make people think I don’t have). But by golly, I took her in there. Baby steps.
This new lifestyle is definitely going to take some practice; I have some habits to unlearn. (I spent so many years coveting other peoples’ lives that the second I got my first heady whiff of what it feels like to be on the other side of that fence, I began doing everything I could to encourage more of THAT—hence a decades-long attempt to coat my entire life with glitter paint and candy). But I am ready to let my For Real flag fly–for real this time (I have tried it in the past, when I was young and impetuous and clueless, and what resulted was just my idea of what it meant to be “real”… which basically amounted to needlessly insulting people by sharing unsolicited opinions ineffectively disguised as “truths”– I hope to be far less rude this time). Glennon Melton, who writes the Momastery blog (which is my new uber-favey next to PBD), calls it “Living in the Light.” And that is certainly quite poetic and inspirational, but for me, it’s more like what my son says when he takes his shoes off: “I’ve got my stinky feet in the wind!”
So get ready, y’all. I’m putting my stinky feet in the wind. Or maybe “stinky cheese” would be more accurate. But at any rate, I’m ready for people to know who I am, and yes, how I live. I’m ready to stop closing doors to hide my out-of-control laundry situation (figuratively, that is; I will probably still actually close certain doors in my home when people are coming over—but I’ll try not to need therapy if someone should open one of them). It will be good, right? Good. Bring air freshener.