First up, on waking, eyes barely open, "do you have any food?" (seriously?) "I just need, maybe a bite of something? an old cracker even? just to take my medicine with? I might have a piece of that breadstick leftover from the restaurant? Did I put that in my purse? Check my purse honey. There's probably something in there." (Now...Every cupboard is full. Every shelf is full. And there's not one, but two, fully stocked fridges. For breakfast options alone, there's bagels, donuts, English muffins, and toast -- or, if she wanted it, bacon/sausage/eggs and biscuits, which I would be glad to make for her, and offer her every single morning. But when she goes home, I think her friends will imagine something out of Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? when Bette Davis serves Joan Crawford a silver platter of rats.)
Then as I was walking through her room gathering up towels and sheets into the laundry basket, "here Baby, do you have a piece of paper? I'm gonna write down how to keep your whites from getting so dingy. I'll bring some Shout and some bleach next time I come and then I'll go down to your basement and we'll see if we can't get your clothes clean." (Apparently, I am walking around in dirty clothes. I am admittedly clumsy and do often end up wearing whatever I'm eating -- but I swear I start OUT the day clean.)
Which brings me to.... "so I guess you're not going to take a shower? I brought my own towels, but I didn't want to use all the hot water... but I guess if you're not planning to take a shower today it doesn't matter?" (I actually do bathe, and there are two bathrooms, I just usually wait till houseguests are outta the house because the hot water heater really doesn't keep up with multiple showers in a one or two hour period. Also, I do have towels. Apparently, they are not clean, but it's not a gas station restroom. There are towels here. Guests aren't really expected to bring their own.)
And with a tone of great resignation and disappointment, "have you started smoking again? You can tell me. I won't get mad." Sigh. "You know it wasn't living around all that smoke that caused this disease that's going to kill me. You know they don't know what caused it." Wait. What? Again? I have never smoked. Maybe one pack of cigarettes -- total -- over the course of my college career, mostly because it gave me something to do at parties when I wasn't busy washing dishes (which is what I usually do to stay occupied when I'm feeling socially backward which is 100 percent of the time -- I would like to take it up again, but I can't muster the commitment). I was also known to smoke a bit ...recreationally... senior year, but that didn't last long. One panic attack, and that was the permanent end of that. I couldn't even stand to go to concerts for years, the smell brought back such horrible associations. So no, I haven't smoked anything in this house. Ever. A few guests may have, here or there, over the years -- with open windows of course (prompting everyone to think the BlackBerry has finally died for good and I'm sensibly resorting to smoke signals)-- but I don't think even her bloodhound tendencies would be able to detect that.
As I was cleaning the stove this morning and pouring her juice, I swept up (with great horror) a few grains of rice -- which I showed her: "Mom, I was cooking with BLACK RICE this weekend..." (I just knew she had seen them; said nothing; but quickly adjudicated the fact that my home is mice-infested.) What she said instead was, "oh? I didn't notice that, but I did notice this olive oil expired. You know you're going to keep on till you poison somebody to death?" (Maybe. But that won't be the how or the why.)
And finally, "so I guess you're not going to work today? Taking a little vacation? That's ok honey, you've earned a little time off." No, I wasn't taking time off. I'd already edited two stories on the netbook while simultaneously answering email on the blackberry; sent out a proposal; and finished most of a presentation due for a big lunch meeting tomorrow. I was, of course, still planning to get to the office.... just not till around 8 am -- admittedly, a pretty slack day -- but hardly the life of a trust fund baby.
It's true I did get slowed down a little when my usual Monday cleaning company went out of business last month (Clean Sheets Day just doesn't have the same ring to it when I'm doing it all myself at midnight after a 12 hour work day), but I have been keeping up as best I can. I am the first to admit that it is very hard for me to A. look good, B. cook good, C. put together a good looking home, and D. get a good-looking job out the door. I can do it all, I just can't always do it all at the same time. I am impressed by people who make it all look effortless, but I am not that person. You might get a good meal and a sparkly house and some decent reading material, but I will probably be in yoga pants and an apparently dingy t-shirt.
Still, it is not exactly an episode of Hoarders. Which I know is the image my Mom's friends get in their heads when she describes her visits here. Her farewell words she shouted this morning as she walked down the deck stairs? "Next time I'll bring my mop!" (I am sure the neighbors needed to hear that.)