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On the bright side -- there aren't any slugs in the shower

I was moping around the house, because my brain didn't feel like writing -- It's the stress of being financially disabled, I concluded. Everything would be so easy if I didn't have this money thing hanging over my head. I knew it was a load of crap, but you make allowances in these situations, because writers can go from blocked to homicidal in a heartbeat.

I tried all of the usual remedies -- yelling at Jerod, scolding the kids for hitting one another with rubber spatulas ... nothing was working.

The situation was deteriorating rapidly when Jerod started to pray on the sofa -- Please let her come up with something, otherwise the whole family will suffer.

I felt the early pangs of self pity building in my stomach, but before I could put them into words I was overcome by a memory -- one of those Dickens-like flashbacks that gives you perspective. 

We've been through much worse 

Jerod and I have always had an abundance of shady characters threatening our financial security. In the early years they were seedy con artists who prayed on our stupidity. Now they're mere flakes -- otherwise decent folk -- simply lacking the cash flow to compensate their contractors.

It started with Jerod's buddies from Ohio -- Dick and Richard. They came for a week-long visit and stayed for a year. Dick fell in love with a married woman, started smoking crack, got his heart broken and smashed his truck into a telephone pole. Richard ran away with the rent while Jerod and Dick were in Ohio at Christmas. 

He called me first -- 2 a.m. Dec. 30, 1997 -- claiming he'd been robbed and taken against his will to a house in Granite Falls. 

"I need you to pick me up -- leave right now -- and bring $500 for the rent."

Jerod lost that apartment and moved into a WWII-era cottage that wasn't fit for the slugs who lurched in through the shower drain to live in.

It gets better

After a few months of slug loving, Jerod had enough money saved to rent a proper house with his buddy, Shawn, from the Navy. There were no crackheads or jealous husbands breaking down the front door.

Things were looking good until the boys' boss, Hal, and Hal's wife, Bessie, got evicted from their apartment and needed a place to crash.

"Of course you can stay with us," Shawn and Jerod told them.

Hal and Bessie moved into the upstairs bedroom with six cats and a 4-foot-long iguana named Homer. They weren't bad people -- Hal and Bessie -- they were bad alcoholics. Bessie was prone to crying episodes -- you'd be watching TV and laughing and all of the sudden Bessie with her pasty white complexion and flaming red hair would burst into tears and accuse you of judging her Cherokee brothers and sisters.

"I am one-quarter Cherokee, PUNK," she screamed all red faced and horse. "Don't you act like you're better than me."

Bessie got drunk at the boys' softball game one night and started in on a mother who was sitting in front of us watching her children run around a few feet away in the grass.

"Doesn't she know there are perverts around here," Bessie yelled. "What kind of mother lets her kids run around like that with all the child molesters sitting here."

I wanted to run, but I knew Bessie would follow me, and I didn't want to be alone with her. On the other hand -- everybody around us was looking at me like I was responsible for the loud mouth woman sitting next to me. 

"Hey Lex," Bessie yelled even louder this time. "We should call the cops on this b**ch and get her kids taken away."

That's the closest my ass has ever been to destruction -- Bremerton style.

It's not that bad

We got scorched some in the recession -- who didn't? We don't have any crazy alcoholics in our attic -- no 4-foot-long iguana attacking our cats and our children. We keep saying of our current struggles: "If we can get through this, we can get through anything."

I think we've already been through the "anything." Once we get through "this" ... I'm not going to jinx it, but I'm more hopeful now.


  1. Name the slugs and train them to perform...Declare the alcoholics as dependents and everything should be better soon!!


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