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"You're a mess"

I'm a lot like Pigpen -- the Peanuts kid beleaguered by filth. I'm messy. I cook messy, do my hair and makeup messy, get dressed messy, fix my coffee messy
-- I clean messy.

My husband hates it, and I hate that he follows me all over the house to catch me in the act of making messes -- and the moment I turn my back on something that's not where it belongs he jumps out like a jack-in-the-box and scolds me. It drives me insane -- explode-out-of-my-skin homicidally insane.

It occurred to me last night while I was angrily rolling out a pie crust -- swearing because the dough was too warm -- that Jerod -- my husband -- is my Grandma Kay's revenge.

She popped into my head first because she'd disapprove of my swearing. Then in mid chuckle -- my mind's eye picturing my grandmother clap her hands and chirp something disciplinary like "don't be so ugly" or "I'm very disappointed" -- I felt something soft and slippery glop between my toes.

A chunk of butter had fallen on the floor, and I noticed for the first time since I started my project that the kitchen was trashed with flour and wrappers and dirty measuring cups and purple globs of apple-blackberry pie filling.

I thought to myself, "Grandma'd be swearing too if she saw this mess."

She yelled at me all the time for soiling her spotless kitchen with crumbs from potato chips and graham crackers; sugar for my cereal; and whatever else I was into. Oh, it made her mad.

"Do I have to follow you around with a broom and dustpan," she'd ask me. "Why are you such a mess?"

My grandma.

She was 4'10" in heals, and all of her grandchildren were promised ice cream cones the day they measured 4'10.01". She was little, but she was a ball buster. There was no sitting around her house in the same pair of sweatpants for days on end eating ice cream out of the carton watching General Hospital and Days of Our Lives.

I did laundry -- properly.

I cleaned the dishes -- by hand, because the dishwasher was reserved for voters.

She told me to write and I wrote. She told me to draw and I drew.

There was no arguing with Kathleen Bacharach. I tried many times, but even in her small voice the words  "no, NO" dropped like cinder blocks, and I wanted to switch places with some tidy child who was mismatched with a messy house and sloppy parents who decorated their yards with garden gnomes and plastic flamingos.

I bet she gets a kick out of Jerod's hand wringing -- the look on his face when I'm done in the kitchen, and the defeated whimper when I absentmindedly drip laundry detergent over the washing machine. She had her victories -- I graduated from college and I wrote for a newspaper -- but she never shamed the Pigpen out of me.

I can see her now, grinning at jerod's frustration.

"Heaven help you," she says. "Heaven help you."


  1. I am Jerod. I am Kay.
    You are a pig.
    But I need you to come pig up my house. Stat.


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