I knew I shouldn't have answered the phone today. I had the whole day off, after a mix-up in scheduling, and was looking forward to doing absolutely nothing. But instead I got called to do a fill-in for a sick girl, and I couldn't say no.
This lady was nice, but she lives with her son who is in a wheelchair. He lost his right leg from the knee down from cancer, and he smokes like a chimney. A dirty chimney. And he's one of those dysfunctional slobs. Filthy dirty tee-shirt, (and we know how I feel about those as outerwear) over an absolutely enormous gut. Probably shaved last month sometime, but the ear fuzz has definitely not been trimmed since Woodstock.
This lady had a hair appointment which I took her to, with instructions to return to the house, mop the floor, and iron her clothes. The dear has a thing about ironing. I kid you not she had me iron all her polyester pants. You know, the kind designed never to wrinkle under any circumstances? She even counts how many items there are. "Dear, you will have 7 pieces to iron!" she told me gleefully. So I dropped her off at the salon and scooted on back and tackled that kitchen. It was a sty, really, I'm not kidding. I went into the back bedroom, bearding the den, so to speak, and said to the son, "What was your name again?"
"Oh Bob" he replied.
"Well, Obob, could I get you to take the garbage out like your mom said you would?"
" Oh Sure" Obob replied in a sullen voice, not budging.
"What ya building there, Obob?"
"Oh just working on my satelite TV hookup"
"You're attaching it to a car battery?" I queried.
Obob had a car battery on his bedroom desk, grease and caustic battery juice dripping, attaching wires to it, semi-industriously. All the televisions in the house were on rabbit ears, so I kind of wondered how long he'd been working on this invention. I know he was doing it to make an impression. You know, so I'd fall in love and he'd finally get a life. Everywhere you looked, this house was crying out for a little maintenance. Things that Obob could easily do. But he spends his time in the Lanai surrounded by gutted television carcasses and stereo equipment under various strata of dust, smoking Cloves and blasting his radio. In piles at his feet were empty packages of cigarettes strung with cobwebs.
As I sped through this cleaning job, which I wanted to do quickly and thoroughly so I could get it done and also so I could do a little extra for this lady, who could use a little industry on her side, he rolled out to his den and cranked that radio up to glass shattering proportions. You know, so I could hear how lonely he is and how multi-musical. I stood at the pane glass door and waved his severed right wheel chair footrest at his glumpish back. "Does this have a home?" I asked him. He took the chair attachment from my hands and threw it onto the suede sofa, where it was to begin with.
"Obob, you've taken over and decimated this once beautiful home. Leave your Mother a lovely, clean living room, will you?"
"Oh I help around here plenty!"
"Like what? What do you do?"
"Oh I cook. I took Oh, 4 years of Home-Ec in high school so I could get out of going to study hall." Censure enough, in a man who obviously skipped the entire semester devoted to hygiene and halitosis.
"Oh don't tell your Boss or anything, but that girl who works here normally is the horniest thing I ever saw!" (Like I didn't see this coming).
"Really, what makes you think so?"
"Oh every time she comes over she says, Oh Bob, when are you going to take me to bed?"
"Are you sure you heard her right? She may have said Obob when are you going to take a BATH."
Obob left the room abruptly and troubled me no more.
When I went to pick up Mom of Obob, she was having her comb out. I heard her say, "Dear me, yes, I hire her from a service! And I'm just sure she's Swedish! I really like her so much! I'm Swedish, you know!"
As we gathered up her various paraphanelia and I loaded her into the car, she asked me if I was Swedish. She wanted me to be Swedish so badly. Why didn't I just tell her I was? What harm would it have done? I've probably got some Swedish blood mixed in there with the German-Scots-British, after all. And she so dearly needed to be able to be related to me by nationality. Obob is so obviously a trial to her, taking after his Slobakian Forefathers, rather than her tidy Swedish ones.
When we got back to the house, it was filled with second hand smoke. Obob had decided it was war, smoking in the house where it is forbidden, in true passive-aggressive style.
Poor lady! I turned to her and "Oh!" I said. "Oh! Come to think of it there is quite a bit of Swedish blood on my Grandmother's side."
God will just have to forgive me, because after all it was just a lie! It could have so easily been a Lie AND an Obob murder. Oh!