Tuesday, May 28, 2013

An act of beer.

As with most couples, our holidays are always divided up among our families. Memorial day, being a somewhat minor holiday, isn't much squabbled over, and it's become a day dedicated to visiting Corb's family. Usually at his mother's house, usually involving a cookout. How freaking American.

This year's barbecue was actually held at his brother Scott's cookie-cutter McMansion, with the large pool and the row upon row of similar palatial monstrostrities squeezed in next to each other. Eh, the food is good, and Scott's wife Tina was really helpful with Ashes, who undwerwent surgery for removal of a cyst in her breast about a week ago (to our great relief, it's benign.)

Corb's grandmother, who has been in and out of the hospital and rehab facilities for almost a year now, was allowed out to visit. She came equipped with a wheelchair, walker, and oxygen tank. Getting her onto the deck was an ordeal in itself.

Every time I see her she seems more and more frail. The Parkinson's seems to be getting worse, and one of her fingers on her left hand seems to be drooping. Still, she seems to have a bit of fight left in her. We parked her in a shady spot next to her favorite food: salsa and a bowl of nachos. Tina placed a bottle of iced water next to her, so she would have something to sip.

I could tell she was having trouble, as she grabbed a few chips and valiantly tried to dip them into the salsa and bring them to her mouth.

"Want me to help?" I asked, making sure I spoke to her like an old friend rather than talking down to her. I hate it when people do that. She nodded, and I scooped the chips into the salsa and brought them to her mouth. I felt almost like a mother feeding a baby bird, except for the disgusting pre-chewing part of things.

"Can I get you anything else?" I asked, after four or five nachos.

"Yes," she said, eyeing the water jug next to her with disdain. "Can you get me a beer?"

"A beer it is," I said, smiling. Yes, that's the spirit.

A plastic glass filled with Bud light located. Glass brought to lips, her entire demeanor relaxed. It's amazing how a simple thing can serve to change the dynamics. Despite the discomfort she felt being carried onto the deck, the attention paid to her, the fuss that had made, there she was, kicking back a beer, feeling a bit less self-conscious, a little more normal for a few precious minutes. 

I smiled and glanced at Corb's mom. "What a day," I said, and winked. "Nachoes, salsa, and a cold beer. If Ernest Hemingway were to drop in and hit on grandma, the day would be complete."

Diana shook her head, recognizing immediately one of her mother's favorite life stories. "If Ernest Hemingway were to drop by, I'd be more than a little worried."

Then, on to the burgers. These are the days to treasure.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The politics of suds.

Living in an apartment isn't necessarily a social experience. Really, there are relatively few times we interact with our neighbors, other than possibly to wave to them or say hi as we are exiting or entering the building. Our next door neighbor across the hall, Linda the Cat Lady, is a little different, but even then...she knocked on my door yesterday to borrow two chairs and a table from our deck, for Mother's day. It was the first time I had a full-on conversation with her in about a month.

The one exception is the laundry room. I DREAD the laundry room.

It's not the inconvenience of actually socializing. It's the fact that there's only one washer and one dryer in our apartment building, which means that everyone is fighting for the same piece of real estate.

Our neighbor on the second floor is the worst. She has two small children and honestly feels that the laundry area belongs to her family. Which means that she does a load and then leaves it there for hours. Sometimes days! One time I opened up the washer and her clothes actually smelled moldy from being in there, damp, for so long. And don't get me started about having to pick out other people's clothing from a washer or dryer. It's just...uncomfortable.

Yesterday, I wanted to do all the laundry, but the second floor lady was hogging all the action. Today, I went down with a load, determined to get it done. The place was covered with piles and baskets, but fortunately, both the washer and dryer doors were open.

At last! I couldn't tell where she was in the process, but the lights were off, which meant she hadn't been there recently. Now was the time to get that little load done. As fast as I could, I shoved my laundry into the washer.

And the MINUTE I closed the door and turned the washer on, I heard the door open upstairs. Footsteps down to the laundry room.

It was the lady from the first floor, with a small bag in her hand. NOT the annoying lady from the second floor. It looked like she had run out of detergent or something and had gone to the supermarket. Had I stolen her place in line?

Here's how I solved this: "Hi," I said.

"Hi," she replied. Then we parted ways.

Fifty minutes later and I knew the washer was ready. I ran downstairs to change loads, But no, the dryer was running.

Ah, okay. The first floor lady had been looking to dry her clothes. I was going to have to wait. Okay, I could handle this.

Ten minutes later and I'm upstairs. And I realize I didn't bother to check to see how long that damn dryer was running for.

Shit, I was sick of running up and down the stairs. "Corbie?" I asked, sweetly. Corb was sitting on the sofa, watching Modern Family, his current obsession. "Can you do me a favor?"

Corb frowned. Oh, the "F" word. I hate it, too. "What?"

"I've been downstairs for the laundry twice today. Can you go check and see if the first floor lady's laundry is done?"

Now seriously, Corb looked a little bothered. You'd think I asked him to rob a bank or something. "But how about if she's done there?"

"She was, earlier."

His lower lip jutted out. "But if she sees me nagging her to get her laundry out of the dryer, she'll hate me."

"If that's the case, she already hates me for stealing her space with the washer."

Ah. Corb triumphant. He had found his way out. "Then she can't hate me. We are a couple. You're only supposed to hate one half of a couple. If she hates you, she has to like me. So I can't go down."


Reluctantly, he went downstairs. It wasn't easy. I had to lift him off that sofa, push him to the door. Shove him down the stairs. But goddamit, why should i have to deal with the laundry politics, each and every time? There's another advantage to getting a house (if we get a house...this week will determine that!): no getting lathered up about the laundry. For that alone (and the thought of getting my own den,) it's going to be well worth it.