Work in progress
Over the past several months, my folks have undertaken a massive home renovation project. We plan on taking our small undersized kitchen and expanding it into a culinary workshop that would make Gordan Ramsey sit up and beg. ‘How?’ you may ask?
Mostly, it seems by totally rearranging the whole damn house into a lifesize Escher painting. Currently, I have little to no knowledge of the location of cereal, forks, television remotes, the Lazyboy, salsa, chips, pots, soap dispenser, can opener, or the front door. All are lost or currently buried beneath bins, boxes and furniture.
You see for years, our current kitchen has abutted next to the ‘good’ or unused dining room. Nearly every home has one, a well-polished table adorned with silver candlesticks and untouched silverware, relics which mothers maintain in mint quality as if the queen might stop by one day unannounced for tea. Our own dining room was an ersatz museum collection of fine china, dark ebony tables, Polish tea cups, Belleek vases, and grinning Hummel figurines. Needless to say, if the queen did stop by for a cup of Earl Grey, digestion would prove difficult with hundreds of small frozen children exchanging blood-red posies, laughing maniacally in their small ceramic wheelbarrows from dust-caked bookcases. Teaching before a room of bleary-eyed kids and . . . well, it’s no wonder I’m so anxious. Anyway, we rarely ate or drank anything in this dining room, even just to spite Mom, who despite our professed phobias screamed bloody murder at any sign of drink or beverage on her ‘nice wood floors.’
Fear them . . .
“I still don’t see the problem.”
“The problem, brother-dear,” Bree sighs, mildly exasperated. “Is that squirrels have rabies. They are rabid. Raa-bi-DA. You know, foaming at the mouth?”
She placed her fingers in her mouth to imitate fangs, which I was certain had little to do with rabies, squirrels or foam, but did paint a horrifying peek at her mind’s eye. I noted never to watch Watership Down with Bree . . . ever.
“Understanding the meaning of the disease, I still don’t see how that factors into the argument.”
“You don’t . . ? If an elf rides a squirrel like a horse, skittering and jumping willy-nilly from treetop to treetop. . . ” my sister explains, arching her hands as if trying to explain the flight-plan of the squirrel in the branches, “. . . then there is a good to fair chance that the rodent will infect them with the disease. Thus, your theory that fairies use the rodents as mounts is impossible.”
The tassel hung from my cap like a fly trap in my grandfather’s barn. Every breath dislocated the strings clinging to my ears, eyes, and nostrils and scattering the pieces into another equally obnoxious location. It was like being hugged by a miniature octopus in heat: annoying and mildly disturbing. The rest of the academic staff appeared nonplussed by the attire. We marched into the bowels of the cathedral between rows of parents and relatives wielding telescopic cameras and palm-sized smart phones. Within a second the whole procession would be circulating around the web, complete with tags of the students favorite (and most hated) teachers, so I tried to appear as dignified as possible, suppressing the urge to hurl both cap and gown in the air and blast skeet-style with a shotgun — or not owning a gun, hit it really really hard with my car keys. Pew. Pew.
We approached the altar of the cathedral and bowed, then the procession turned to the side and filtered into our seats adjacent to a small electric organ. Once parked in our pews, we turned to smile on a crowd of white gowned seniors, eager and excited for the evening parties, college and summer vacation. My many-fingered yarned beast choose the moment to slap me in the face repeatedly.