Today, so far:
7:00 AM Mama is moving around, preparing for Sunday school. I wake up and try, vainly, to go back to sleep
7:15-7:30 AM Mama and I talk and sip coffee. The big boys are all away and Deuce is sleep. I love quiet moments, even when it is MORNING.
7:31-7:45 AM I realize no sleep is forthcoming so I might as well get the day started. I take down meat to thaw for dinner, do some surface-level straightening up, and sort laundry.
7:46 AM As mentioned, the boys are not here. I have decided that my first load of laundry will be towels. I realize that I must bravely approach the area of their greatest science experiment: their bathroom. (Suspenseful music plays in the background. Largely in my head, but you get the drift).
7:47-7:54 AM I don my makeshift haz-mat suit which consists of a scarf to protect my hair from odors, a large towel to cover my mouth and nose, Mama’s reading glasses for my eyes, my black house shoes because they can be washed, a straightened wire hanger to lift anything that should not be touched by human hands, elbow-length gloves and the sense of steely determination that has gotten mothers through thousands of years of messy children. I take a deep breath—I dare not breathe once I venture beyond this innocuous looking door. I look back at my mother, a bit of fear slowing my steps. She nods encouragement, clasps her hands together and waits. I pull down my towel long enough to tell her I love her and I couldn’t have asked for a better mom. I want her to know that before I venture into the bowels of hell. Slowly I turn the knob.
7:54:32 AM As a good social scientist, I make quick observations to later record in this journal. The first was the scent for which neither my towel nor the artfully placed wallflower was any match. I am horrified to realize I didn’t even hold my breath 30 seconds. Note to social scientist self: work on stamina, girl. My eyes water beneath the glasses, but they still manage to take in carelessly tossed toothbrushes, four tubes of toothpaste, some purloined from my bathroom, the fiends! They squeeze them in the middle and then take more long before their tube has run out.
7:54:48 AM I ease past mounds of clothes toward the item which is the heart of their science experiment and the greatest source of my fear: their toilet. I look on in horror. I believe that, once, the linoleum surrounding it was the shame shade of white as that in my bathroom. It has taken on a strangely golden hue. I turn my head quickly, almost dive toward the tub and any towels.
7:55:01 AM The tub is strangely white compared to the rest of the once-white room. It’s almost as if… as if it is barely used! Imagine that!
7:55:05 AM I see towels. On the towel rack. On the side of the tub. Balled up into a corner that I dare not stretch to reach in case I slip and land on their almost-bronze floor. “Be brave!” I tell myself. I extend my hanger. After a few fruitless tries, I hook them. One by one, I fling them into the hallway.
7:56:15 AM I dash drunkenly from the bathroom, almost overcome… but… alas… I am safe! My mama sighs her relief--I hold up my hands as she approaches me. I dare not let her touch me. “Oh, daughter,” she says, tears shining in her eyes, “I have never been more proud of you than I am at this moment!” I know that is what she said, but muffled by the towel, it sounded a lot like, “Girl, pick them towels up and take them in the laundry room!”
8:00-8:05 AM I deposit the towels in the washer, add a bottle of detergent, a half-gallon of bleach, some baking soda and pine oil. I turn the water to hot. I run to my bathroom, carefully strip out of my protective gear, and put it in a plastic bag to de-contaminate later. I turn the shower on as hot as my skin can stand. I wash with Dial, with Nivea, with vinegar, then Dial again. Finally, I emerge, checking myself for any symptoms.
8:20 AM I direct Mama to watch me carefully for the next 24-hours for any signs that I have contracted a dread disease. She does not seem to understand the seriousness. She kisses me and leaves for Sunday school. I must now monitor myself… Hopefully, Journal, this will NOT be my last entry.