Two things happened after I posted Part One about my mom yesterday. The first was everyone who’s ever met her, and is friends with me on Facebook told me that my mom is awesome. You’re right. She is. The second was this:
Me: Mom, you’re internet famous.
Smoop: I know. Jason called me last night to tell me he was the good one, because he wouldn’t ever put things like that on the internet.
Let’s be clear about something. Trust me when I tell you that I’m the good one. He’s the tall one. See?
I’d say it’s a tie for who’s the funny one.
Anyway – today I wanted to tell you more about Smoop. Particularly about her cleaning and organizational skills — an area where I have repeatedly failed to live up to her expectations for 30 years.
For as long as I can remember, my mother has tortured me with to-do lists. They were particularly bad in the summer, when I was on vacation, and apparently expected to do things around the house, as opposed to sleeping until 10, watching the Price is Right, and going to the pool (which were my primary summertime priorities from ages 11-18). They usually consisted of mundane tasks like, do the laundry/put away your laundry, fill the ice cube trays, clean the bathrooms, start dinner, and go outside and pick up dog poop. On a good day, I probably had about 35% of the list done by the time she came home. What? I had other things to do.
She also wrote all of her lists (everything, actually) in cursive. Proper cursive — not a cursive print hybrid like I have. In all honesty, there were a variety of list items I never did, because I swear to god, I had no idea what the hell they were instructing me to do. I was on the receiving end of so many lists, that when she started leaving them for my stepbrothers and occasionally my stepfather – I would have to translate what they said, because I’m the only person in the world who can read her handwriting.
And just in case you thought that stopped when I moved out, or got married, or bought a house of my own – it didn’t. I was there last weekend, and when I walked into the kitchen (the lists were always on the kitchen table, which made sense, because all I do is eat things) there was a note on the table that read:
“Ashley – carry up the laundry basket.”
Cleaning A Light Fixture (AKA How to Carry Things)
When I was living at home, cleaning was a weekly occurrence. I was assigned to the bathrooms and dusting. Bill vacuumed. I think Smoop mopped the floors. This is not a tradition I’ve carried over into my own house — and believe me, my mother will be the first person to point out that it looks like that’s the case. At my old place (before I met Mike), she once called me every day for two weeks to ask me if I’d dusted my baseboards yet. When I finally got around to it I sent her a picture so she’d finally get off my back.
When I was still living at home, my mom would clean the entire house from top to bottom about twice a year. This included things like taking books off the shelves, washing the windows inside and out, and taking down all the light fixtures to wash all the glass globes.
I was assisting in the master bathroom — I guess it was a two person job? — and she hands me the glass globes from over her bathroom sink and says, “Carry these. Two and One.”
To which I replied, “what the hell does that mean?”
She says, “Carry two in one hand, and one in the other. I don’t want you to drop them.”
I was 17.
I told her I was old enough, and smart enough to know how to carry some glass around. And then I asked if she thought Three and Zero might be faster. Or if One, One and One might be a little more exciting? I also spent the rest of the day figuring out all the different carrying combination of things we were cleaning, and then asking her if she had a preference.
I grew up in a townhouse in a neighborhood where there were a lot of kids, and several of my best friends only lived a block or two away. My friend Megan came over a lot back then. Everyone loved Megan. She laughed a lot at your jokes (ask her about M&Ms in the water, or taking Aleve for aches and pains), she was polite, and she didn’t get into trouble (at least, we never got caught).
One day when I was 13, Megan was over. We’d been hanging out in my room for a few hours, and eventually she had to go home for dinner. Normal, every day kind of stuff.
A few days later, my mom was cleaning up my room (because I’m sure I didn’t do it to her satisfaction) when she found a mysterious ziplock bag filled with an unidentified white powder under my bed.
And then all hell broke loose.
“What is this?! Where did it come from?! Why is it under your bed?!” I honestly had no idea — I’d never seen it before. Jason was next on the list of potential suspects, because he was a fan of practical jokes (granted, at that age this repertoire basically just consisted of pantsing people — a tried and true favorite you still have to watch out for). He denied any involvement — and after a few days, we all knew he would have come clean, just to get credit for his joke. But that didn’t happen.
So she set her sights on poor, sweet, quiet Megan. It must have been Megan. Megan was the last person in there, aside from me. It was at least six more years before she relented, and finally believed that Megan didn’t plant it there.
But what was it? Ahhhaa….
Upon finding the unidentified white powder, my mother decided to subject it to a series of tests to try to determine what it might be (and just how sinister it really was). She was sure it was cocaine.
So, she smelled it. That didn’t help.
Then she called my uncle, who was a cop, and asked him where she could send it for analysis.
And then naturally, she tasted it.
Years later, when she told me that, I had a few questions of my own:
Me: Did you know what cocaine tasted like?!
Me: What if it had been rat poison?!
Smoop: Oh … I hadn’t considered that.
It was Baking Soda, by the way. But we still don’t know how it got there.