John is here from Florida. He’s here to help me with his grandma. To give me some relief so I can go out to lunch or to the grocery without getting an elderly-lady-sitter. Also to provide back up when I have cataract surgery.
And I’m grateful, really I am. On the other hand, John being here is like inserting a rambunctious tiger kitten into a family consisting of two fat, old, placid house cats. For one thing, you have to understand that, even though John has been married for 10 years, he never actually moved out. His bedroom is still as it always was – books, chair, computer, bed and stereo. He still claims one of the primo closets for his own and it is filled with an entire secondary wardrobe – pants, shirts, shoes, jackets. He still has deodorants, tooth brush, razors, mouthwash in the medicine chest. When he comes here, he doesn’t even have to pack a bag. Have iPod, will travel.
The first thing that happened the day after he arrived was that he decided all his clothes had to be washed. Of course, they were all clean but they’d been hanging in his closet for a few months so they were like, you know, stale or something.
So he washed and washed. The washer and dryer ran morning, noon and night. When he was done with his clothes, he washed his sheets and bed spread and blankets. I’ll probably be getting a phone call from the water company – “you need to check for leaks, you’ve had a huge spike in usage.”
John runs up and down the stairs 25 times a day. Literally, he runs. Running makes a lot more noise than walking. “CLOMP, CLOMP, CLOMP!” The dog isn’t used to it so she barks her head off every time. The cats run and hide. Mom asks, startled, “What’s that? What’s that?”
The only thing I really care about on TV is NASCAR, which I usually watch in HD on the set in the living room but that’s the only TV that is hooked up to a DVD player so, of course, when he rents a movie, he has to use that one while I’m consigned to a hard chair to watch my race on the TV in the kitchen.
It doesn’t have to be this way. He offers to wait to watch his movie but I know it will be less distracting to have him occupied rather than flouncing around not knowing what to do with himself.
Mom loves John but she wants him to go home. I think it is because she tries so hard to rise to the occasion and appear “normal” in front of him. It’s stressful for her. So, she wants to know if we can buy him a bus ticket and send him home, or maybe we can take him home in the car. She says she’ll gladly pay for the trip. (He already has a ticket to fly home).
“Hush, Mom, don’t let him hear you talking like that, you’ll hurt his feelings,” but she is pretty much beyond caring if she hurts anyone’s feelings.
“He makes me nervous. I want him to go.”
He makes me nervous, too, because of his effect on her. And she makes me nervous as I try to be the middle man between them.
I think I need to ask my doctor about doubling my dosage of anti-anxiety pills.
Vicki Williams is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached through the newspaper at firstname.lastname@example.org.