February 1, 2012

Clean and Wish-I-Wasn't Sober

"April!" My mother, standing in a neon bandanna, old sweat pants, and a t-shirt that says I Have a Black Belt in Crazy calls to me from atop the stairs. "Where do you keep your tam-pons?"

She isn't asking to borrow them, thank the Gods. She is trying to be helpful and put them away for me. I imagine her with a handful of my personal artifacts and a confused look on her face and I cringe. Since I haven't responded she asks me again, in a voice loud enough for the neighbors to hear, where I would like her to put them. She pronounces them tam-puns, enunciating the second syllable, making the whole event sound dirtier than it is.

"Just put them anywhere." I holler back. "It doesn't matter. I will find them."

I hear her shuffle around in my bathroom drawers and medicine cabinets and I wonder what other embarrassing items she might find. The cackle from the upper floor lets me know she has discovered...something. "A bottle of adult toy cleaner? Where did you get this? And won't soap and water just work?"

I have learned long ego not to react to these types of conversations. When I was 14 she told my first boyfriend the reason I was afraid of snakes was because penis's scared me. When I locked myself in the room for hours afterwards, I had to endure a behind-the-doors 'facts of life' talk I wasn't ready to have. So, I just pretend this is any old conversation we are having now. "I got the cleaner at a Passion Party. It was a free give away for a game I won." There. I said it matter-of-factly. That should quiet her down.

"Just use good old fashioned hand soap and water." She insists, carrying the bottle down to me. "Look. The ingredients in this stuff will give you a rash. Your auntie had a rash on her hoo-hoo before and they hospitalized her for that. You don't want that, trust me."

Holy Hell. Is she almost done here?

I scratch my head, trying to remember why she is even cleaning my house. Apparently, eons ago, I did something nice for her and in return she promised to clean my house once in awhile. I told her I didn't need to be recompensed but she insisted. Besides, it made her feel good to return the favor. Now I can't even remember what my gesture was and mom still cleans my house while examining my life on a permanent basis. The only thing that can save me now is if the Mayan 'end-of-the-world' prophecy comes true.

I should be more grateful, I realize this. Especially since I HATE cleaning the house. It's not the physical labor I mind, but the time it takes me away from other pursuits. I want to be dancing, or walking, or writing. And cleaning is the ultimate buzz kill to all those things. Still, I'm not fond of bugs or dust bunnies so big enough they warrant names, so I clean. So, the fact that my mother is kind enough to do it once a month should positively thrill me.

"April. You should check the expiration date on your condiments." She rifles through the refrigerator. "Trust me, I know. You don't want salmonella."

It should thrill me. It really should. But I'm a private person and the fact that my entire life is being exposed, even to someone I love as much as my mother, kinda freaks me out.

I guide her into the living room, a room I know is devoid of personal belongings. Surely, she cant offer much commentary here. But alas, the living room is also home to the television, which she turns on to keep her company whilst she washes the floor. Every talk show, every commercial, every Jerry Springer special is accompanied by her narration. "I don't mean to tell tales out of school but I think Obama is starting to lose it..." "Do they really expect you to buy that kind of cheese? You can get cheese that's just as good at the dollar store for only a dollar...sure the date says its old but I know my cheese." "Is this show still on? I thought they would have cancelled that show long ago. It can't compete with Bones. Have I told you about the latest episode of Bones?" I think the government should use my mother when they are trying to get someone to confess something. An hour with my mother will make even the hardest criminal crack. Sure, it's cruel. But it's fast and effective.

At 2:30 it is time to take my mother home. The place smells like Lysol and cigarette smoke. My mother looks around at her work and smiles. "Not bad, huh April? I'm so happy I get to come over and help you with this. I know how busy and stressed you are. Want me to come again next week?"

"Sure, mom." I say as I load her into the car. The place does look better and the pain of her visits, like childbirth, does ease after a few days.



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