My wife was called out of town on a family matter and has been away for nearly two weeks now, leaving behind a household of three men, two of them teenagers and one of them who tends to behave like an irresponsible 13 year old despite being much older. The end result, as you can imagine, is not pretty. It reminds me in many ways of my university days, but back then I maintained a blood alcohol level that blurred the chaos down to acceptable levels. Now, with work commitments and the need to pretend to be a responsible adult, I no longer have that option.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m as much a part of the problem as anyone. The closest my bed has been to being “made” in the past two weeks is when I climb in and pull the covers up at night. The part of my brain that is appalled at the situation is very small and completely overwhelmed by the portion of my brain that says, “Meh, whatever” as I throw an empty 2-liter bottle in the general direction of the recycle bin and walk away before the rattling stops, heedless of whether the bottle is actually in the bin or not.
Still, the results really are astounding. There is a cat food bucket next to the cats’ food dishes; both the lid and the scoop are missing and there is a hand-scrawled sign saying “Fud” with a paw print on it stuck in the food. Neither teenager admits to putting it there so all the evidence points to one of the cats getting so frustrated with the lack of food that they took matters into their own hands (paws?) and taught themselves to write. Last week I awoke to the sound of the water pump on their water bowl eating itself and only a Skype call with my wife allowed us to prime it properly and get it going again. This required the combined skills of me futzing with the pump, my son holding my iPad so my wife could watch what I was doing and provide much-needed instruction, and my son’s girlfriend on the power cord in case things went suddenly and badly wrong. Of course, with two women involved, the process was anticlimactically uneventful.
There are other signs of anarchy. We have a cardboard scratching pad for the cats which they tear small pieces off of, requiring frequent vacuuming. Yeah, right. I think some of our floors used to be a color other than cardboard, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at them. The basement floor is still white because the cardboard droppings haven’t drifted all the way down the basement stairs yet (they still have about 4 stairs to go) but the rest of the floors are a distant memory. The good part is that once the cardboard debris gets over an inch deep it’s very soft on bare feet.
Nutrition has taken a huge hit, too. Fortunately, pizza doesn’t lose its nutritional value even after a week in the fridge, so we’re not likely to starve any time soon. Plus, I take vitamins regularly so the lack of any sort of healthy food can be offset by the miracle of modern chemistry. We did have a salad one night, but that was more of an accident than a planned event. I’ll leave it to your imagination how an accident can result in a salad; the details are still to painful to relate.
My wife also pays the monthly bills, so every morning when the furnace starts, the bathroom light comes on, and warm water comes out of the shower nozzle is like starting my day with three little miracles. It is also a harsh indictment of the diligence of the Accounts Receivable departments of several local utilities, but their loss is our gain.
And so our life without estrogen continues to stagger along. My wife hasn’t said when she’s coming home yet, and the boys and I are actually going to do some housework tonight anyway (one cat MAY be missing), but as long as we have about two weeks’ notice that she’s on her way we should have everything back to normal by the time she gets here. Except for the cats. I think they’re permanently scarred, and the probably won’t forget how to write now that they’ve developed the ability.