Monday, and I’m looking for inspiration. It’s usually pretty easy, what with two kids, a dog, a wife, a bigass TV with 250+ channels, shelves full of books, and 2500+ songs in my iTunes. And it’s The Holiday Season. And today it was raining. My home is a live-in Topic Cloud.
There’s no such thing as Writer’s Block – there’s always something to write about – but there is such as thing as ennui, and this morning I was swimming in it. There was Zoe, of course; she was her busy self, jogging back and forth between us, asking her usual questions. “Elmo please? Baba please? Yogurt? I poot!” (The last being a statement, a newsflash on the contents of her diapers.) There was last night’s dinner – chicken roasted in a milk-based sauce. There was my grand plan to relaunch my old masochistic rugby training workouts, the goal being to whip myself back into fighting shape at 40. There was the ocean, slate gray and roaring thanks to the storm. There was Lucas’ first report card. There was Snickers, Lucas’ class guinea pig, who had been placed in our care this weekend, and who we had somehow managed to not kill (see the part about the two kids and the dog).
Yet I was uninspired. I retreated to the Inner Sanctum, my Walden, where I go to sit and think in solitude, my only companions the whirring fan and the occasional lingering whiff of asparagus pee. The bathroom. I bade farewell to the Chicken In Milk.
It had other plans.
I flushed and the toilet overflowed like the dive-hatch on Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, quarts of shit-water quickly flooding the floor. “GODFUCKINGDAMMIT!!!!” I yelled. “What?”, Beth called out from the other room. “Hi Daddy!”, Zoe chimed in. “The toilet’s exploding!”, I shrieked. I quickly grabbed an old towel and tossed it on the floor, by the doorjam, hoping that it would stem the deluge and save the hall carpet. Spongemop. Did we still have one? We did. And by that I mean we did, as in me a few months ago, I threw our spongemop away, wondering why we needed this old spongemap when we had two regular, uh, yarn mops? Ropey mops? String mops? Do they have a special name? Are you getting the impression that I don’t really know a whole lot about mops, and that this ignorance will come to play a major part in this unfolding drama?
Out the door, down the rain-soaked streets to RiteAid, nightmarish scenarios playing out in my head during the drive: the dog trying to be helpful by lapping up the spill, Zoe wandering into the bathroom and having a fun time in her new, fun, albeit smelly wading pool. I ran through the RiteAid with the steely focus of a Delta Force operator looking for a hostage to rescue. There: the mops. Tucked away in the far corner of the store. Of course. Why put the mops up front when there are things that people really need, like $5 flannel shirts and two gallon bottles of Riunite? “Would you like a RiteAid Discount Card?” The cashier was slow to realize that a wild-eyed reeking man who ventures out into a rainstorm for naught but a single spongemop probably has little time to fill out a form. But the lightbulb did come on. “Maybe next time – you look like you’re in a hurry, son.”
I returned to brown water, half an inch deep, covering the entire floor. Twenty minutes of mopping up liquid stink, fighting the urge to add my breakfast to the mix. Then bleach, bleach, bleach; I wondered if I’d used enough Clorox to dissolve the floor tiles altogether. Then I spent what seemed like an eternity rinsing out the mops and the bucket with more bleach. It’s possible that I’m now responsible for killing several local species of fish. I scrubbed my hands with the vigor of a neurosurgeon. The smell – real or imagined, I know not – lingered in my nose. I washed and washed, but still I felt Unclean.
My decontamination work finished, I collapsed into my chair in front of the laptop. I still had a post to write. The kitchen table serves as my office; Zoe was sitting next to me, eating a bagel. Rather, she was eating the cream cheese off of the bagel, and leaving the rest. She does this a lot, actually – with peanut butter, butter-butter, sandwich filling, anything that goes atop bread, leaving the bread behind. Hmm. Maybe I could write about that.