Monday, March 21, 2005

Have a Coke and a Smile

I’ve finished the second half of the photo album I’ve been working on for a client. It was of a rafting trip down the Colorado River. Beautiful stuff. I have only to pick up enlargements tomorrow and affix them and it will be completely complete. The next album awaits, for which many photos must be scanned. I think I’ll begin that later tonight.

After I finished my album work, I had a mad urge to scrape the hairspray blobs off of the mirrors in the bathroom. I get the eebies every time I walk in there and see the vastness of the hairspray coverage, but I never bother to do anything about it because it won’t wash off for anything. The task of scraping is one which should probably be done weekly or monthly, and yet I do it maybe yearly... maybe. It looks so horrible and yet taking a single edged razor to it is quite simple and extremely satisfying. Problem is, once you start scraping things with a single edged razor, it’s hard to draw the line on where to stop. This can be a good thing if it gets you to do something you might otherwise not have done, but for obsessives, it becomes borderline manic. Since the same hairspray travels to every vertical and horizontal plane in the bathroom, and half of every wall in the bathroom and the entire shower enclosure is covered in 5x5 shiny tiles (well, not so shiny layered with hairspray and grunge), the stopping point becomes nearly indistinguishable. It's the land of the eternal tile. But the afternoon sun shines a spotlight on the east wall, lighting up my obvious neglect and grossing me out. And so I come to you typing with crippled hands which are still pruney from wringing the dirty water out of the laundry on Friday and are now additionally maimed by the water and Scrubbing Bubbles with which I cleaned the tub. I’m feeling the effects of clutching a tiny razor and scraping for over an hour, always drawn one tile further, on into the shower where soap scum has created layers and layers of goop to entice me. “Eradicate the crud!” That became my motto.

I thought about how pleased everyone will be when they enter the bathroom next time. I dreamed of ooohs and ahhhs reverberating throughout the house, hitting my ears like a sweet song. Ah, but then again, that’s a joke. Noone complimented me on my new shower liner purchase last week and it so obviously reeked of that new poly-chor-a-hex-a-something smell like you couldn’t imagine. If the crispy clean look didn’t make them marvel, the smell certainly should have. The old liner had a layer or two of that orange moldy substance from whatever bacterial, viral whatever-it-is that makes water change form and become something scummy. Did I hear even one sweet sound of pleasure cooing from the lips of my children as they got into the shower after I replaced the grungy liner? Not even. I heard, “who keeps leaving hair in the drain?” and I heard, “who used all the soap!” and I heard, “Who keeps taking my shampoo?” I heard, “Mom, why do you keep taking my towel and washing it?” but not a single person admired the new curtain out loud and praised my deeds from under the spray of the shower. I mean this was monumental in terms of dramatic effect. These kids must be warped by the age in which they’ve grown up. I am certain of it. If they couldn’t make appropriate comments about something so entirely consequential, why would I even dream that even one of them would notice the clean tile? Well, I notice, and more than notice, I know it is eons cleaner and that is what counts. That is what will help me sleep soundly tonight, so soundly. Now, if I could get the rest of that little pit we call a bathroom fixed up, I believe I could fall into such a deep sleep over the pure joy of it that I’d never wake up.

So I worked and worked on these things that seem to me to be of some consequence and then it began to get dark and dreary out. To me, "dark and dreary" is perfect writing weather, esp at this time of day. It just feels right, and I feel justified after all my labor, what with the added weather bonus, sitting here typing and rambling. I have a Thai Chicken Pizza in the oven from California Pizza Kitchen, well from the Publix freezer section, but made by the California Pizza Kitchen Company. So I am going to go and enjoy the pizza as I enjoy the dark and dreary weather. And I have Coke too, and better yet, I bought ice this week at the grocery store. Store bought ice (giddy glee), now you know I’m living! It’s a luxury to be sure, but since I’m scraping acres of tile with a two inch single edged razor and doing laundry all over town and other things that feel heroic, I think I will enjoy the luxury of my ice and live it up. Cheers! I know, you’re thinking, Coke? Liz, don’t do it! I know. I know. But this is Thai Chicken Pizza, and it wouldn’t be the same without the Coke. It just wouldn’t, and I have no one around to go Coke-freaky on tonight. So, it’ll be ok, I promise. I'm going to have a Coke and a smile. I really think can do it.

As I sit here, the sweet smells of my childhood are coming through the cracks in the window. It’s a good thing, but perhaps a bad one too. Good, because I loved my childhood and still do. Bad because the smell means that probably a lot of particles and junk are also coming through the window along with a scent so strong I feel like I’m literally right there, right there in the midst of new house construction. My neighbor two houses away from my window is re-roofing. It smells exactly like new concrete block house construction... like plaster and concrete and drywall. They’re not building anything new, they are ripping off a concrete tile roof. It just reminds me of the smell of the new homes being built in our neighborhood as kids. Back then we wandered through the homes, picking up Coke bottles to turn in for nickels or dimes. (I always did love Coke. Back then, to me, it was the sign of wealth. It was true luxury to be able to have a Coke. I always thought that I’d know I was rich when I grew up if I could have Coke whenever I wanted it. So tonight anyway, I am rich.) Back then we wandered through the construction picking up the little cylindrical metal pieces that looked like nickels and pretended it was money. We toured the rooms in the houses, imagining what each would be. We sat in the new bathtubs and walked through as of yet, nonexistent walls between the studs and checked out the Port-O-Lets and laughed at the stench and made tunnels in the mounds of white building sand and played king of the hill and tons of other stuff during the late afternoons. What a great playground!

Well, I just heard thunder. I think what that means is that if I fold the laundry that I washed at Mom’s this morning and if I go and at least attempt to degunk the shower drain like I had on my list, then, and only then, I think I should be allowed to sit and read. Certainly one must read in order to write. So not only will it be my joy, but it will also be like a responsible action toward a future writing project or like doing homework or something.

Mmmm, this pizza and Coke hits the spot. I burned the edges of the pizza a tad (at least it smelled like it) and the inside isn’t exactly perfectly done, but nevertheless it’s still mostly warm and I am calling it good stuff. The Coke... well, there’s nothing like the first sip of fizz off the top of the first glass from a newly opened bottle of Coke, especially poured over fresh, store bought ice. The fizz caught my eye this time before I drank it. Usually I’m in such a hurry to slurp it up before it fizzles out (because that’s the best part) that I don’t really look at it. But I was amazed at the bubbles. I’m thinking it was every bit as enticing as they make it appear in advertising. That’s just my opinion. But take a good look next time and see if you don’t agree.

You know, I really don’t feel much like cleaning the goopy, hairy crud out of the drain now. I just don’t. I never will. Do you suppose that it would still be okay for me to read even if I don’t predicate it with this disgusting chore? And if I don’t start scanning all those photos tonight, would I be considered a sluggard? It feels wrong not to do everything and then some more on top of it (as you may have guessed I am the obsessive type for whom simple chores become manic events.) Maybe if the roofers didn’t work so late I wouldn’t feel like such a lug for calling it quits. It ‘s 6:15 pm and getting dark and they are still banging things and yelling in spanish and stirring up the smell of concrete so that I imagine everything is probably covered in a layer of fine dust about now. Their work seems so productive.

The pizza and coke are gone, there is work that has been left undone here in my world, and reading and ice crunching lie ahead. Maybe a scan or two will be thrown in to ease my conscience. Can’t say for sure. But the drain gunk? I don’t think so. Another day, another grungy bathroom chore. I don’t want to burn my obsession at both ends. Better save some for tomorrow.


  1. There's a great deal to comment upon in your last post, the sights and smells of childhood, the "nickles" from the electrical outlets, yeah, all that, but what I really have to ask is... did you get BOTTLED coke? Wow. That's really living it up. Things go better with CocaCola - I want to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony - I hope you're still living large today.

  2. It was "two litre" plastic bottled, not glass bottled. I don't live that large.

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