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Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Oh Frabjous day it should have been last Thursday: two boys up and left us all at once. Our diminutive eldest to an apartment fairly close by; and his gargantuan brother, our second, shipped-out to USMC Boot Camp.

Should have been, but wasn't.

He'd shipped out early, see, a week before he was supposed to - and that week made all the difference to my belovèd. She was ready, she claims, all set-up and prepared even, for him leaving us this week, but last week? No. Totally banjaxed. Surprised herself how awful she felt.

Oh Tearful day it was, then: where pent-up furies and deep-buried cares came pouring through the duct tape; scared at once of all the things a mother can be scared of. He left at 4am, with all of us remaindered standing sixsquared at the foot of our drive, waving our 'kerchiefs into the gloom.

Gone. Gone for three full months in which we won't see him and can't speak to him. There's no calling home to Mommy for Marine recruits - except, perhaps, as special privilege earned in some unspeakable manner not disclosed. Neither may we, who also serve sat here at home, neither may we call him: in the event of an emergency we must call our local chapter of the Red Cross, and they will send word for us. Just like Colditz.

He called home Thursday evening. Of course he did.

And we were out - of course we were. It was Thursday after all, which meant dinner at Grandma's like it always does. He called Collect while we were driving home, so sayeth Caller ID, and since it was Collect and no-one here to accept the charges, he couldn't even leave a message.

My wife was despondent - he'd called and she'd missed it! Never left the phone for the next twenty-four hours and beyond.

Oh, dry your tears, goodness sake. That was then.

We recovered our composure over the weekend during an assault to recapture, to reclaim, that wing of our home that was his room. Two months he'd had to clear it out and make it semi-habitable: two months that was, in which he lay on his big fat arse doin' nuthin'. The room he left us with defies description, so I'm not even going to bother trying. Let's just say it took us an hour of hard labor to reveal the carpet. That room has long, long been out of bounds to the rest of us - not, I might add, by any Diktat from the pouty prince himself, but by virtue of impenetrable natural defenses he'd posted around it. It smelled so bad the dog would balk; and since our laundry room abuts it, we've all this time had to do our laundry in fits and snatches, rushing to do as much as we could before our breath expired and we'd have to breathe in again. We knew it would be bad - but dammit, its our room, and our house, and We Want It Back, by God!

Noticed that he'd knocked the screen off his window; so after we'd cleared the floor, dismantled the [ruined] bed, cleared what used to be under his bed; we finally had a chance to find out why. We'd thought, naturally, that he'd removed the screen so he could slip out his room at night with nobody knowing. Oh - but nothing so mundane with our boy. First, we looked out, discovered what had happened to all our dishware and glassware and silverware. We'd been screaming at the lot of them for months about disappearing plates and spoons and whatnots... and there they were. F*cker was so lazy that, rather than bring his [illicit] dishware back to the kitchen he'd just toss it out the f*cking windae! But that was nothing: the real reason he'd knocked his screen out was not so he could sneak out, but rather, on schooldays, so he could sneak back in and go back to sleep! All done in the sure and certain knowledge that nobody would ever come close to opening his door. Seriously, my hat is off to this kid: he did it - he finally found a dodge that neither of his parents had done before when they were kids, a dodge that he can call his own and brag about to his kids down the years. That had been our greatest weapon: we'd been there, we'd done it all, and Mom was invincible - in all these years nothing got past her... nothing but This!

Hah! But it's scraped, it's been scoured, it's been painted: soon we'll have a nice wooden floor in there. We were going to give it to one of the girls, since they share a room now; but its intended recipient couldn't be bothered to help us clean it. That room is Ours again; and so shall it stay. And we are both of us hoping severely that what we have done to his former bedroom, his Drill Instructors are now doing to him. Yuk yuk yuk.

That was better: felt more like ourselves.

But two boys left us last Thursday, not one. The other moved out to an apartment, which he shares with a wheen of room-mates - housing is so extravagantly expensive here that there's just no way he could afford to rent a place of his own. An apartment that, well... ever watch "The Young Ones"? I'll say no more about that. His room, though, is another disaster that we have yet to face up to, but not quite so bad as his brother's. We'll get to that one later - one room at a time is the watchword for now. But his moving out is altogether different: he's still in town, still on the phone, still turned up to our Labor Day barbie.

And so we're down to three, almost a regular family: its been so quiet, and everybody even getting along, and stuff. Very weird; too strange indeed. The bugger of it is, while they were here, we hardly ever saw them - one was always working, the other always sleeping. There'll be no recrimination though, no matter what they left behind. They've put their boyhoods behind them; made their own beds and are lying in 'em. Good for them, says me.


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