|a possible culprit|
Some people's parents arguments are supposedly scary and very uncomfortable for everyone around. My parents' fights are totally hilarious. They don't fight all that often but when they do, it's over stuff like the time our house had to be tented for termites, so any of our food that couldn't be sealed in plastic and put in the refrigerator had to go to neighbors' houses. I think Matthew and I had just turned ten that year. We were leaving for Utah early the next morning, and my dad asked my mom to make Chex Party Mix because my grandfather likes it. (Personally, I think my dad wanted her to make it for him because my grandfather loves the taste because she puts so freaking much butter in it [about 5 times the amount the recipe on the side of the Chex boxes actually calls for] that he eats it like the food supply in the world is going to go radioactive in the next hour and anything that isn't eaten before then will be inedible and we'll all die of starvation. Meanwhile he's clogging his arteries to the point that the world's greatest cardiac surgeon or neurosurgeon would be helpless to clear his aortas or carotid arteries or whatever. They're secretly trying to kill the man, but that's just my opinion.)
Anyway, it was about 10:00 p.m. the night before we were leaving for Utah, and my mom was trying to make Chex Party Mix. First she looked for the Rice Chex, which were stored in an a box in one neighbor's house. My dad had no idea which neighbor had the Rice Chex, so he had to go door-to-door around the cul-de-sac looking for the Rice Chex. Then she went looking for the Worcestershire sauce, and it was the same situation. "Can't you just make it from whatever ingredients we actually have in the house?" my dad yelled downstairs to her.
"That would be hot buttered Rice Chex," my mother shouted back at him.
They weren't actually hollering at each other because they were angry, but because my dad was upstairs on his computer working on the family Christmas card letter, and my mom was downstairs in the kitchen trying to make the Chex Party Mix, they couldn't hear each other without raising their voices. That, however didn't make it any easier for my brother and me to sleep through the ruckus. We finally both got out of bed and sat at the top of the staircase to watch the scene unfold and to reassure ourselves that the disagreement wasn't going to escalate into domestic violence.
By the time my dad had interrupted the neighbors for the third time to look for another ingredient, he finally drove all the way into Sacramento to an all-night grocery store with a list of needed ingredients for the Chex Party Mix. My dad was so disgusted by the whole incident that it ended up being a featured portion of that year's family Christmas card letter. We are a dysfuntional family -- no doubt about it -- but not to the degree that the people who received our family Christmas card letter that year must have been led to believe.
Yesterday my dad didn't work because I was released from the hospital. Midway through the day, he decided I was doing well enough that I could be left without the direct supervision of an MD for long enough to him to visit the driving range and hit a few golf balls. His car was in the shop. He might have driven my car, since I can't drive it, but he couldn't be seen driving anything as ghetto as a Honda Accord at the golf course. Even my mom's Lexus was pushing his image a bit, but it was the best he could do on a moment's notice. He removed a basket of linen blazers that my mom had in her trunk because she was planning to take them to the cleaners, and he put his golf clubs in her trunk. He opened the gate to the backyard and set the basket just inside the gate. Then he went off on his merry way to hit golf balls. When he got home, he took his golf bag out of my mom's trunk and stored it in its customary location in the garage, but he forgot all about my mom's laundry.
This afternoon my dad came home early to go to the 4-year-olds' birthday party. (Booze is being served to the adults; why else would my dad go to a birthday party for a couple of 4-year-olds?) The New Piano Admiration Society was still upstairs in the loft. My dad came up to have a look at it and to try ut one of his 70's or 80's era rock songs when my mom remembered she needed to take her blazers to the laundry and decided she had just enough time. She went downstairs. Something prompted her to open her trunk and look inside before leaving. The basket of blazers was not where she had left it. She came back inside and hollered at my dad from downstairs, "John, do you know what happened to the basket of linen blazers that were in my trunk?"
He stopped "Come Sail Away" mid-chord (between "Come sail" and "away," to be precise) and muttered "Oh, shit!"
He ran down the stairs and though the kitchen door to the garage. He went out through the open garage door to the gate. He opened the gate and produced the basket of blazers. My mom had come back into the house. Recognzing that there was a problem, he carried the basket of blazers into the house as well. The problem was so profund that the nature of it was evident even to those of us still up in the loft.
It seems that before my dad found the blazers, at least one of the many neighborhood cats had found them as well. The odor of cat urine pervaded the house. "What did you do to my blazers?" my mother demanded.
"I didn't do anything to them," he defended himself. "The cats did it."
"I don't really care who or what urinated all over them. They're useless to me. I refuse to wear clothing peed on by anything," my mother huffed. (I think she's forgotten all about the body fluids my brother and I must have gotten all over her from both ends when we were babies.)
"Why don't we just take them to the dry cleaners and see what happens? Maybe it'll come out," my dad tried to appease her.
"Go right ahead, John," she directed him. "Take 'em to the cleaners. And if you think they're sufficiently rid of cat pee after they're cleaned, you can wear them anytime and anyplace you want. I'm through with them!"
By this time all interest in the new piano had waned. All of us -- Uncle Jerry, Uncle Scott, Uncle Michael, Matthew, and I, even though I could barely stand, were leaning on the banister, watching the drama unfold before us downstairs.
I've never been known for keeping my opinions to myself. Today was no exception to the norm. "It seems like anyone who would throw around eighteen grand plus tax for a third grand piano in one house wouldn't think twice about replacing a few lousy blazers."
"Shut up, Alexis," my brother hissed at me under his breath.
My dad was not half as subtle. "Alexis, shut your mouth before I shut it for you!" he barked at me.
"John knows Jerry, Scott, and I are all mandated reporters," my Uncle Michael casually announced. "He wouldn't dare hit you."
My brother went downstairs, took the basket outside, and emptied its contents into the trash.
My dad asked my mom, "Do you want to go shopping this weekend, or would you rather order the replacements online?"
"I'll order them," my mom answered.
"And I assume the replacements will be considerably more expensive than the originals were," my dad observed.
"You assumed correctly," my mom answered.
Now they've gone off to the 4-year-olds' birthday party. My mom is already happy because she's getting new clothes out of the debaucle. My dad will be happy shortly, because Gerard, the father of one of the birthday boys, ordered something called Olvishol Brugghus, or something like that. It's some sort of stout from Iceland, and my dad believes it is the fluid of the Gods. After one or two of those, my dad will have forgotten that either blazers or cat pee even exist.