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Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Bang and a Whimper

Because I didn’t have any armed artillery rounds to juggle, I decided to spend Sunday afternoon cleaning the boys’ room, a happy little corner of the world I like to call The Wasteland.

The guys were going to clean it out soon anyway, I’m sure. Back at the turn of the century I told Son Two, the Procrastinator, to straighten up his room if he wanted to have friends over to play pin the tail on the Pac Man. At the time, he was in fifth grade. He’ll graduate from college in the next few years, but I’m holding fast to my rule. So I know they were gonna take care of it sooner or later, but after the rusty nail incident I thought it was in the best interests of everybody to give them a hand.

I learned a lot of things this afternoon. First, I learned that juggling armed artillery rounds is easier than forcing jewelry on J-Lo compared to shoveling a decade’s worth of trading cards and sludge-filled Yoo Hoo bottles from the shag under the box springs in The Wasteland. The landscape around Chernobyl smacks of a trip down the yellow brick road compared to the terrain under those twin beds. (Flying monkeys excluded.)

Next, I learned that while the kids took my advice over the years, they applied a more literal translation of "save for the future" than I intended. Anyone who has ever spent three hours chiseling two dimes and a souvenir penny from a petrified Play Doh statue that has welded itself to a bookshelf with time and liberal applications of dust can feel my pain. I found enough change to pay off our church’s building debt and add a multi-sports complex out back, but I was afraid to touch any of it without notifying the Environmental Protection Agency. Both Obama and McCain say we need change. I’ve got it if they dare to come after it. But I'd advise they load up on oxygen masks, Kevlar gloves, and antiseptic wipes. A load of odor-eaters wouldn't hurt.

The third thing I learned is that a stray Cracker Jack will maintain its original form and composition no matter how much time passes or how many natural disasters come along to cover it with cat hair and dust bunnies. A Cracker Jack must be the basic building block upon which all other things are made. That and Easter Peeps. Which I found hibernating in someone's underwear drawer.

All the experience I earned today will stand me in good stead should I choose a new career as a hazardous waste transporter. But the most important thing I brought out of the Seventh Level of the Dirty Place was this: when an old woman slips on a decayed Snickers bar, careens off a peg-legged rocking chair, and lands with all of her the considerable heft on an ancient whoopee cushion that’s been repaired with duct tape and left to ripen for seven years, that cushion will still whoopee with gusto.

The sound will echo around the room like she’s been juggling live artillery rounds and dropped one. And as the previously empty space fills up with all the folks that neglected to help with the terrible task, she should drop the rest.


colbymarshall said...

Oh, brave, brave woman.

Carolyn Erickson said...

This is the way the world ends. ;^)

Becster said...

This reminds me of the apple I found under my Marine son's bed once. I never knew they could look like that.