Last week I cleaned my house, my barn and loaded up my tiny new car with two squirrels, two dogs and my giant new Betsy Johnson bag that’s so bright it brings a smile to my eyes and headed to the lake. I went alone. I listened to what I wanted to in the car. I ate the entire spicy hummus by myself. I experienced bliss. Then, a few hours later my daughter, Cricket, arrived. She’s not much trouble, but she is messy. She burrowed into my bed, dragging 16 pillows and three more blankets, kicking and untucking the sheets. She left her red plaid bag on my light blue chaise, causing me color dysfunction. But I’m not complaining, she’s a fun girl and can be counted on to drive if needed, even if she can’t be persuaded to crash a regatta party.
Then, the boys arrived. Lots of them. Because I’m not stupid enough to allow my 16 year old to bust loose in Panama City, and because he has friends with parents equally wise, the boys are allowed to come up and do, basically anything they want, as long as they live through it and neither The Goose nor I has to wake up and take them to the hospital at night. They arrived on Saturday, by way of the giant flea market, with tasers. This caused me a moment of concern, but I bit my lip. Sure enough, it only took a few hours until they had worked up the courage to tase each other. One by one, they stupidly electrocuted each other until someone wet his pants, twitching and screaming. And still they had the audacity to plague me with whiny questions about why I would not let them drive to PC, where girls are easy and plentiful and every night is a Girls Gone Wild video in the making. Because no one required medical attention that could be found outside a psychiatric ward and because it didn’t make a mess, I just ignored them all.
The big story of the week, though, was that my stupid dog, Finn, got lost. Anyone who has lost a dog knows that it’s a hopeless, miserable feeling. We made this worse by imagining things out of a true life crime drama. Several months ago, the elderly man next door to us at the lake, a nice, quiet master gardener, died, leaving the house to his, well, unsavory grandson. Because I have never witnessed drug use, I must issue a disclaimer that I don’t KNOW he’s a crack head, but he has done some odd and unexplainable things. By the time Finn had been gone for a few hours The Goose, the good neighbors and I were sure he had murdered Finn and removed him in a black plastic garbage bag. We had the whole scenario mapped out, minute by minute. The Boy and I worked up courage and went to the door to ask. My courage was of the liquid type and The Boy’s courage stemmed from the fact that I was pinching him under the arm. When we knocked at the door, we heard slow, shuffling footsteps and the door creaked open, 40 year old screen door screaming, and we tried looking through the smoky haze to see if we could see any signs of him. We did see that the man answering was holding a giant glass vase, the kind with the coils and carburetor, and the house did smell decidedly like a Grateful Dead concert, but I’m not making any accusations. He mumbled that he hadn’t seen Finn and closed the door. Then, The Boy and I made a terrible decision. We decided to scout around the house on our own. We tiptoed around the house, like Fred and Velma, and came upon a large plastic bin with a lid. A TERRIBLE odor issued from this bin. I instructed The Boy to open the bin and he said something back to me which no boy should say to his mother. I urged him again, politely, but he, again, demurred. So, I opened it. We both screamed a blood-curdling scream that would have assured us a part in any scary movie. I shoved myself in front of The Boy and took off towards my house with him close on my heels. We ran smack into The Goose, who had heard our screams, and yelled “THERE IS A DEAD BODY IN A BIN NEXT DOOR!” because what we had just seen could only be a torso, floating in blood. Therein followed a confusing “who’s on first” conversation, in whispered screams and demonstrative arm gestures, describing to him the width and color of the abdomen we’d seen in the bin.
The Goose isn’t easily rattled but we scared the pants off him and he did not want to go, hoping to let dead bodies lie. We were pretty worked up by that time and there was no living with us, so he finally snuck around the back of the house, while we quaked and shook, and performed an inspection. We had 911 ready on speed dial and we were diagramming a home invasion and citizen’s arrest involving stun guns, fireworks and rope. As it turns out, it was a giant catfish, in muddy water, but it COULD have just as well been a torso and we felt justified in our police work and still find him guilty on catfish murder and dismemberment. Plus, gross, why?
The end result to all this was that our sweet neighbor found Finn two days later, bathed him and gave him a treat before waking us with the news. There was lots of snuggling and smiling and everyone started packing up and going home, a few at a time.
And I am patting myself on the back for, once again, keeping five boys alive, averting any pregnancies, alcohol poisoning, head trauma, carpet stains, tattoos, STDs or exorbitant bail fees. That, in my book, is a good spring break.