Tuesday, May 16, 2006

If Grandma only knew...

I want to make good use of my sons' labor before they start to work for the summer and I go back to Loreto. Every day I make little lists of chores for them. Yesterday I taped one to the refrigerator, certain it wouldn't go unnoticed. But it did. It was plastered to the most used door in the house, how could they miss it? One answered, "Cuz there's nothing to eat in the refrigerator. When are you going grocery shopping?"
They're probably counting the days till my departure.

There are a lot tasks to be performed. It is our annual spring cleaning. For those us who live in the midwest, spring cleaning extends far beyond freshening up the house. There's left-over fall leaves and debris from snapped winter branches to scoop up. There's old growth to be trimmed, along with a profusion of new growth-- lawn and weeds to be tamed. Last year's mulch has deteriorated and weathered like old carpet. The driveway and patios are gritty and the windows are streaked. The garage is filthy. The basement deep freezer got accidently unplugged to make room for someone's stereo and now there's furry beef and venison down below.

I went from the easy life right back into my role as homefront manager. I've had the plumber out to fix a stopped toilet. I sent our tow man to pick up my sons' disabled SUV. A floor polisher comes Friday after a visit from pest control. The pool liner needs to be replaced. The patio needs a power wash. My car needs tire rotation and oil change. Allison needs new shoes. Everyone needs a trip to the dentist.

I had the bright idea to make the boys haul the ratty furniture out of the basement and dispose of it. We have an assortment of left-over, worn-out furniture that crowds our ancient basement and gives it that creepy spiders-in-the-cellar atmosphere unknown to owners of modern homes. Everybody in suburbia has a walk-out basement with nine foot ceilings and a pool table but we did the "sensible" thing and bought an outdated older home at a bargain price and then poured dollar after dollar into perpetual rehab, but we had a golfcourse lot with a pool and that of course is everything, except that in 13 years it's appreciated less than a couple percent a year not like my Loreto Bay casa which has increased a hundred grand in one year, thank you very much, and what a smart little wife am I for persuading Robert to buy it.

I digress. Back to the basement:

Robert and I tried hard one year to make the basement as appealing as possible to our young sons. We threw down a large piece of remnant carpet, dragged in a television, an impossibly heavy ping-pong table, some orphaned furniture and exercise equipment, and lovingly draped on old sail from Robert's childhood lake sailboat to obscure the low steel beams of the basement ceiling. With Robert's mother's sectional lime green 70's sofa, we thought their little bunker was super-cool. Ryan didn't think so until his friends convinced him otherwise.

Tonight, I returned from a dreaded Wal-Mart run (I needed rubbermaid containers to contain the domestic overspill) to hear drumming coming from the basement. I descended the stairs and found Ryan and his best friend sitting on grandma's 70's sofa in mirror positions; hands folded behind their heads, heads bobbing. It was a silly sight. When I looked for the drummer, I saw that it was my six-year old, Allie, carrying a pretty steady beat. I sat with the boys and listened with a big grin. "So will you two move this stuff out for me tomorrow?" Ryan's friend grimaced. Are you sure? We kinda like this couch. And in the next moment, two other friends came down the steps. Hey, what's happenin'? They took seats in the matching tattered recliners and put their feet up on the coffee table fashioned out of a broken tabletop balanced on a wicker chest. I asked for an opinion. Should it all stay or should it all go? Every face expressed alarm. Hell no. Mess with the basement?!! Turns out all the walk-out boys hold dear memories of our basement. Turns out they prefered it to their own plush, built-in-bar and big screen. How conveniently discreet that it's entry was through the garage unlike a proper house. Friends came and went undetected. We unwilling may have possessed the neighborhood trailer-trash chic crash-pad.

Now I hear the stories. What a great basement hang-out. What a great house, everyone's favorite. What great fun they had. Ping-pong and guitar jams and after hours rap sessions before crashing on the grandma's groovy sectional sofa. Oh yeah, maybe a little beer and a pinch of Skoal in later years. But that part of the story they leave out. Wise they are.

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