Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Monday, August 07, 2006

Of vague despondency or ill temper

My mother used to have a word that she dragged out on particularly heinous days.

You know. It's a little like 7th grade -- the year when I cried at least twice a day but usually four or five times a day and wished I was dead, because death was the only thing that would cure my acne, my greasy hair, and the fact that 9th grade hunk Jeff McConky didn't know I was alive.

Eh, OK, so some things don't change. At least my hair stays clean for more than 3 hours at a time.

Anyway, I would be having one of those truly *horrible* 7th grade days when absolutely no one was talking to me, I dropped mystery meat from the cafeteria on my favorite almost-see-through disco pink blouse with the gold threads and the mother of pearl buttons, and not only didn't Jeff McConky see me standing on top of his books outside the cafeteria, but he nearly knocked me over when he picked up said books and trotted off to his locker, and THEN my ex-best-friend Cheryl would snidely say, "You have something stuck in your braces. It's huge. It's GREEN. Gross."

Yeah. One of *those* days.

Then Mama would forget to pick me up -- she did that on more than one occasion. I'm serious, y'all, my mother the saint would forget about me for hours at a time. Once I waited outside the junior high forever, and I begged a janitor to let me back inside so I could call home and go to the restroom. I swear -- I am not making this up -- I made the call, and the phone rang and rang, and then I ran to the girls' room, and then I ran outside -- only to see my mother driving AWAY. I ran after her in the driveway, screaming and waving my hands. The driveway was very long, and dumped cars out onto a road that looped back around to the front, so I stopped chasing and turned right to cross the field and chase after her once she was on the road.

She never saw me. Not once. I walked home, crying the whole way. And it was a LONG WALK. And I didn't have a dime to call from the pay phones halfway through town.

And then -- and then -- if I wasn't perfectly cheerful and chirpy at dinner, she would say, "YOU... have the MULLYGRUMPS."

I looked it up. I don't know where Mama got her particularly version of it, but the word "mullygrubs" was in an 1806 dictionary, and it meant "a condition of despondency or ill temper; a vague or imaginary unwellness." The variation "mullygrumps" is listed as a viable substitute.

I have had the mullygrumps all day long.

This is not so awful a malaise as to make one beat one's children or set the house on fire. Oh, no. It's a great deal more vague and simmering than that. It's just a tendency to want to shrug and say, "Why? Why exert myself? No one ever pays any attention to me, anyway." You watch a lot of TV and complain in your head that there's nothing on. You have two DVD's from Netflix but you don't feel like watching either one of them. It's too hot to go outside and watch the hummingbirds. It's too cold inside with the air conditioner. Just nothing is *right*.

I finally screwed my head on straight and decided in the late afternoon that it was not going to get any cooler than this, so I had better get myself a glass of sugar-free lemonade and go watch some hummingbirds before I start pulling my hair out or dropping all the glasses on the kitchen floor to see which way the shards of glass fly.

I got the next Laurie Notaro book, poured myself some lemonade, lowered the bamboo shades, and sat down to start enjoying hummingbirds and a humorous batch of essays. I hadn't been reading for ten minutes when my neighbor Dennis came out of his house and started up his [expletives deleted] pressure washer.

Now, I should tell you that Dennis is a very nice man. He has never yelled at my kids nor kicked my pets. In fact, Dennis has been a very helpful and pleasant neighbor. He's never once pulled his shirt up and started scratching his stomach in the middle of a casual yard conversation. (As a former neighbor did, which shocked and horrified me to no end.) When Dennis' wife holds a yard sale, she doesn't mind if I put my spare junk in her yard sale. I mean -- I really like Dennis and his wife.

However, Dennis has a flaw. He is hyper-attentive to his lawn and home. Dennis loves to mow. At first I thought he was just a neat-freak who wanted to keep his grass short, but after years of watching the man mount his riding mower as if it were a shining black Arabian steed and he was riding off to the Crusades, wearing a wide grin with a cigarette clinched in one corner of his gleaming teeth, no, no, I'm pretty sure Dennis just loves mowing grass. He loves it so much that he almost always mows half of our lawn while he's at it -- four times a week.

Dennis make it very hard to be slovenly pig-beasts as we are about our lawn.

But ... Dennis' lawn-mowing parades have taken a vacation in the middle of this waning summer. He either bought or won or was given a powerful new pressure washer, and he is carrying on a torrid affair with this new piece of home maintenance equipment. Every afternoon for the last week or so (and for hours at a time over the weekend), Dennis has found something in his back yard that desperately needed pressure washing.

That wasn't so bad -- he has a high fence around his back yard because of the above-ground pool. And because of said above-ground pool, I thought Dennis would be kept busy until his grass got so tall that seed heads formed and threatened the world, at which point, I was sure, Dennis would remember his lonely lawn mower and would once again mount to ride the beckoning waves of infidel granery.

I was wrong.

Not ten minutes after I opened my book, sipped my lemonade and watched a couple of hummingbirds sipping at the nectar, Dennis cranked up his [expletives deleted] pressure washer and started washing the exterior of the fence that encircles his entire back yard.

A hummingbird darned nearly fell right off the perch on the feeder when the noise began. I had no idea how much of that noise had been being absorbed by Dennis' fence when was washing stuff in his own back yard. Now that he was outside the fence, the horrific noise bounced off the wood -- perhaps it was amplified by the fence itself -- and poured ceaselessly into my yard, onto my porch, and into my poor ears.

I tried to read my book.

I couldn't hear the buzz of the hummingbirds.

A train went by, and I didn't notice it, drowned as it was by the thudding drone of Dennis' pressure washer.

After twenty minutes, I gave up and went inside. I was going to watch TV, but it was drowned out by Dennis' pressure washer.

I turned on some music -- which I couldn't hear -- and tried to read indoors.

Half an hour later, when Wesley came home from work, we shouted at each other over the noise of Dennis' pressure washer, and I decided Wesley could by-gum go get some take-out for dinner. He picked Hardee's. I don't like their dinner food. (Their pork chop biscuits are great, however.) The birds yelled and screeched while Dennis' pressure washer screamed on, and Wesley and I shouted at each other about dinner food. He left. He came back with food for him and the kids.

Dennis' pressure-washer washed on.

Late in the evening, I went to the car to get something. That's when I noticed the shining yellow visage of Dennis' fence -- a section of fence that is about 8x7'. The next section faces my house, and it's about 35' long, and almost 9' high in some spots.

I'm thinking of buying myself some ear plugs. Or a gun. Or maybe both.


At 8/8/06 10:50 AM, Blogger Jane said...

Oh MY! You ARE a hoot!
Now, see what you got after Sunday's post..........a pressure washer!! Too too funny.
Bay, you're the best!

At 9/8/06 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a happy note, project runway comes on tonight! Good thing it comes on late, or neighbor may still out there washing away.

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