Lately, I have a bunch of little stuff that I want to mention, but none of it is really worthy of an entire post dedicated to it. Since these stories keep clicking around in my head, there’s nothing I can really do but write them down, gauge the level of lunacy I’m operating at, and move on.
Incident Number One: Chef And Joe
Do you guys remember last year when I briefly took Chef in? I’m sure I mentioned that we had another roommate but for the life of me, I don’t remember what fake name I gave him on here, and I don’t feel like sifting through hundreds of posts just to find out. So, we’ll call him Joe.
Last week, with the weather being awesome, I strolled around the big flea market, and I ran into him. Joe is in his late twenties, and has been struggling with his own drug addiction for years now. I hadn’t seen him in a long time, though I often thought about him, and often prayed for him. I genuinely loved this little guy. Aside from his addiction, he was really a kind, gentle, compassionate person. Addictions aren’t character revealing for me by themselves, to the point they can define who a person is. They make people act in manners that are horrifying, but I’ve known multitudes of nice people who happened to be struggling with an addiction, and Joe was one of those people. When I saw his healthy, happy face, I almost didn’t recognize him. His eyes were clear, hopeful, and full of laughter. What a wonderful sight!
We started talking about when Chef and Joe would get high and immediately, they would start stealing from each other. I used to laugh my butt off because for some mysterious reason, most of the meth addicts I’ve known become kleptomaniacs when they are on the stuff. I have never experienced this phenomenon myself, and for the life of me, I have no real idea how people who never, ever even considered stealing from someone when sober, would become fearless thieves. I would watch Chef sneaking to where Joe’s stuff was stored, quietly digging through it, picking out the stuff he wanted for himself. This only worked because Joe would be quietly doing exactly the same thing in Chef’s room. And every single time this happened, all hell would break lose when one of the thieves would find something the other one had stolen from them before. It was just pure entertainment for me to watch them arguing, and they would go back and forth for literally hours. How do you argue that someone was wrong to steal your stuff when you only found out the stuff was stolen when you found it while stealing their stuff?
It was an awesome experience. Loving addicts is a mixed bag, and the bad is so horrible, it’s easy to overlook stuff that is just funny. Maybe that makes me horrible, but I laughed every time I saw it, and it still cracks me right up.
Incident Number Two: Little Buddy
Every single person in this house is a devout animal lover. Besides Rebekkah’s Ella, Tony’s cat Sophia, and my dog, Jake, we’re pretty packed animal-wise around here. Mindy wanted her Chihuahua, Little Buddy, back from her ex-husband, and there wasn’t much any of us could do about it. She deserved her furry friend too. So, along came Little Buddy aka Spike aka Kujo aka Killer. First of all, this is what a dog looks like:
Should be classified as a rodent.
Cute maybe, and even smart, but definitely, not a dog. Also, if it can be killed by a mouse trap, it shouldn’t be classified a canine. I’m serious.
Despite my preference for large dogs, I found myself intrigued by the tiny thing.
I’m loathe to admit it, but Buddy carried himself with such dignity and fearlessness, even among the giant dogs of this new pack, that I grudgingly came to respect him. He refused to take crap from any of us, even though Ella clearly thought he was a squirrel or something. She was interested for about 4 seconds, then immediately forgot about him. I am not sure Jake was ever aware of the tiny warrior strutting somewhere around his feet at all. In his mind, though, Buddy was a contender for the throne, even if no one was taking him seriously.
So, he immediately launched his first attack. He established his dominance over the other males….
… by peeing on Dj and Tony’s heads at night when they were asleep. It was baffling at first. Dj and Buck both woke up damp and stinky. Some theories were bandied about, but nothing was clear. Sophia the Cat was a prime suspect for a few days, but the proof just wasn’t there.
(On a related note, Sophia doesn’t like dogs, especially Ella and Jake. The fact that Buddy was smaller than she was obviously gave her the confidence to strike back, and Buddy was shamed in front of us all).
Then, two nights later, Dj woke up to a golden shower from Little Buddy. Turns out, Buddy isn’t fixed, and he was showing the two males in our house who’s Da Man. Since he couldn’t reach their heads when they were upright, his domination had to be carried out in the evening hours.
Little Buddy doesn’t live here anymore. :-( He obviously was made for greater things. His skills were wasted on us. We folded under his urination campaign with barely a whimper.
I wanted Dj and Tony to pee on him when he was asleep just once, thus exhausting every possible solution before we voted him off the island, but I wasn’t able to make my argument convincing enough. What’s a little urine between pack-mates, really? Surprisingly, urine is a real deal-breaker around here.
Incident Number Three: Food
In the Blue House, there are five adults sharing a two-bedroom house. And it’s not for no reason. We’re poor.
We’ve found a way to live in a house, have all our utilities on, and still eat. For me, that alone is a tremendous blessing. For some of the others, however, the food thing was way more complicated, and the potential to spin completely out of control and consume us all was growing daily.
It is my suspicion that being married to a chef for a couple of decades, as well being raised by one, has affected how Rebekkah, Dj, and I define food. In all my years of shopping at the HEB’s and Reasor’s of this world, I’ve never once looked at an expiration date on a canned item. In fact, I’m not sure I even knew they had expiration dates. Because I grew up eating spaghetti, macaroni and cheese, and hot dogs, I assumed I had experienced real poverty. But then, this week I found a whole new depth to being poor. Cheese That Doesn’t Melt. I had to make a judgement call about what can and what can not, be defined as food. Yesterday, I handed down these two important decision:
A) If cheese won’t melt when dropped directly into an open flame, it isn’t food.
B) Meat that can’t be clearly recognized and doesn’t have to be refrigerated isn’t meat.
Obviously, I’ve been laboring under the assumption that I’d experienced real poverty, when in reality, I’ve been an elitist snob who won’t eat cheeses that don’t melt or meat that doesn’t spoil.
Mindy and Buck have a whole different perspective about food, and it’s probably way more practical for our situations than my kids’ and mine are. Turns out, there are whole brand names I’ve never heard about, mainly because I was not aware of the option to shop for groceries at dollar stores. For me, poverty has always been buying generic.
Now, based on my experience with the non-food products I’ve bought from dollar stores in the past, I wasn’t too enthusiastic about eating anything from there either. I learned pretty quickly, you get what you pay for, and nothing I ever bought from these sorts of stores ever impressed me one bit.
But on the off chance we might be able to save a little money on groceries, I bought some of Family Dollar Store’s Mystery Meats and Refrigeration-Optional culinary offerings. In all honesty, I have no idea if they were delicious and e coli free. They were probably fine, but psychologically, they were ridiculously hard to not just freak out about, even after I’d obviously passed the Digestive Time Line that would have indicated real trouble. That’s how I was coping. Rebekkah, however…
Rebekkah has found this eating-on-a-dollar-store-budget almost unbearable, even to the point of having nightmares about it. First, she has always been very, very picky about her food. She won’t eat meat cooked on the bone. When she buys fresh fruits and vegetables, she investigates their history like she’s adopting them, not cooking them. Genetically enhanced fruits and vegetables are repulsive to her, and she’s not fun to shop with.
My attitude has always been What You Don’t Know Won’t Kill You, and while I actively refuse to know too much about my favorite foods, I’ve been pretty easy to please when it came to food all of these years.
Rebekkah, however, does not subscribe to that same philosophy, and secretly, I think she suspects all of the food groups are plotting to give her cancer or something equally horrible, and I’m just avoiding dealing with reality.
Now that our roommates are generously cooking for us, her psyche is quietly, but politely breaking down completely. She won’t be rude, but I’ve seen her mentally prepping herself between bites, and we spend a considerable amount of time discussing the benefits of preservatives and how unimportant it really is to know what animal was killed to provide us this meal. We know we aren’t fooling ourselves, but we try anyways. This goes on through most of her digesting process. The food generally tastes just fine, but as Rebekkah’s mother, I know. That doesn’t matter to her. At.All.
Being a fixer, Rebekkah’s answer to this has been to beat everyone to the punch by cooking ALL meals before anyone else can. She’s in college pursuing a degree in physics, yet finds the impossible time to buy “good” food, prepare a meal she won’t obsess on, and then cook it. There have been a few dinners ready by 4pm in the afternoon, but by God! They were trust-worthy foods that won’t cause us cancer.
She simply is wearing herself right out, and while I found it somewhat humorous at first, it really can’t be healthy for her to be this obsessed. Plus, it is a little harsh for me to laugh at her distresses. Her Food Hell is some good entertainment, but I can tell she’s about to snap and buy a Sam’s Club membership soon.
Today, I had to forbid Rebekkah from doing this insane food preparation every day, or even every week. For one thing, the roommates haven’t even noticed her spiral into OCD insanity, and they innocently make comments or share little tidbits of knowledge that send my kid right into orbit. Then, I have to lure her back into reality. Quite frankly, my talents as a therapist are minimal at best. Instead of pulling her back from the edge lately, I am starting to join her there. I mean, really. What kind of cheese doesn’t burn??
I feel we made some progress today. We compromised and ordered a pizza. Baby steps. :-)
So, I guess that’s where I’ll stop. I have a plethora of weirdo things I’m experiencing these days, but I’m having difficulty processing the whole cheese thing right now. I need some french fries.