Wednesday, April 07, 2004

more ole ritin of buddy don:
story writ to make the group laff


furst, i gut to cunfess how i dint wake up on time on a counta that game las night, witch ye probly dun know bout them lady vols losin. innywho, heres a ole story i writ back in the days of the group, witch im a'gonna say lots more bout the group purty soon in that novel, life n pinions of buddy don, hillbilly.


Cleaning Up


 


            James Peterson checked the time: eleven thirty.


            That gives me almost four hours to get this place in order.  No problem.


            He opened the newspaper, read the sports section first — the Cubs lost again — then the comics, the editorial page and finally the front page.  He checked the time: eleven forty seven.


            I better get to work on this place.  No, wait.  Let's check out the ladies' section.  Never can tell.  Might be something interesting there.  Anything would do.


            He read about three upcoming marriages.


            Poor fools   Do they have the flimsiest flip of a notion of what they're getting into?  No way.  I could tell them a thing or — hey, what's this?


            "Psychologist advises future bride," he read.


            All right!  Let's see what this guy knows.


            James read through the article, his foot bouncing faster and faster as he read.  Finally he stood up, mashed the paper into a huge wad, pounded it with his fist, and hurled it against the TV screen.


            Same old line of bull!  These shrinks are no saner than we are.


            The psychologist had advised the future bride that a good marriage is maintained by the constant efforts of both parties.  Each should be willing to communicate.  To be gentle.  To let feelings show.  Each should be aware of the three main problem areas in all marriages: money, relatives, sex.


            James picked up the paper along with several other loose papers that were scattered about the floor like weeds and threw them all into the trash.


            Let's face it, Mr. Shrink, your advice is OK as far as it goes, but you missed the main area of difficulty.  Sure, sex, money, in-laws, they're all problems, especially since no two people can ever agree on how much is enough.  You take Barbara and me, now, there's a perfect case for you.  When it comes to money, she's a damned miser.  I, on the other had, am unafraid to spend any and all of the money I've got.  You see.  It's very simple.  We can't agree on how much is enough.  Same goes for sex.  Again, Barb's a damned miser.  Claims she wants quality instead of quantity.  Well, as far as I'm concerned, it's always quality, but you got to give in to make a marriage go.  Hell, I should know.  I've been married twice before this, and you learn by doing — were you ever married, Mr. Shrink?  Anyway, third time's a charm, knock on wood.


            James rapped his fist against his head three times.  He walked into the kitchen.  The breakfast pan still sat on the stove.  It was filled with congealed bacon grease and looked as neglected as a hoe left lying teeth up.  Toast crumbs covered the counter as randomly as ants around a dead insect.  The butter sat melted in its dish.  Heaped into a pile in the sink were all of the dishes James and Barbara Peterson owned.  James sighed and wandered down the hall toward the bathroom.


            And relatives.  Again, it s a simple matter of when is enough enough.  I may be a glutton for sex and a bit of a spendthrift, but I do keep my family in line anyway.  But not Barbara.  Every third day it's something, a visit to her sister, dinner with her folks, a call to her brother in St. Louis.  (And what does she say when I mention the cost of long distance?  "It's only money.").


            James entered the bathroom.  His towel was wet and wadded up on the floor.  Barbara's was partially dry, hanging on the shower rod.  Pubic hairs lay like dead worms on the rim of the toilet bowl.  Moustache hairs littered the sink.  A wet wash cloth sprawled in the tub, looking as lazy as a stuffed pig.


            Water spots covered the mirror.


            But that damned shrink didn't even notice the biggest problem of all, the idiot!  And him advising that poor young girl.


            James walked into the bedroom and groaned.  The unmade bed, the dirty clothes lying all over the floor, the curls of dust lounging in the corners — help!  James left the bedroom after taking a quick glance, closing the door behind him.


            The main problem area in a marriage, Mr. Shrink, is housework.  Has been since the invention of labor saving devices and the subsequent decline of the service class.


            After checking the time again — twelve ten — James slouched down into his chair.


            Again, Mr. Shrink, it's a problem of when is enough enough.  As far as I'm concerned this place is practically paradise just the way it is.  Plenty clean for me.  But Barbara?  She's just a regular fanatic.


            "Pete," she says, "be a good boy and clean this place for me today."


            "Where are you going?" I ask.


            "Judy's baby shower's today.  I told you that last night."


            "You did?"


            "I guess you weren't listening.  As usual.  I'll be home around four.  Please don't let me down."


            And out she goes.  Of course, she gets me to promise I'll get the place in order, which means about three degrees beyond Mr. Clean.  And, of course, she brings the other forces to bear on the situation.  Says we'll go out for Chinese and damn the cost.  When she gets back.  If the house is clean.  Needless to say, that doesn't thrill me that much, even if I do love Chinese.  The clincher, though, is when she pulls out her pink dress and  drapes it across her body.


            "What do you think, Petey?  You in the mood for a hot night?"


            "Well, yeah, but how hot?  I mean, this place is a mess, Barb, like a damned garden gone to seed, and I don't know if it's worth all the    "


            "This dress'll be practically the only thing I'll be wearing."


            "Oh!"


            "I thought I'd try that sexy new garter belt you ordered from your magazine."


            "You did?  Hell, Barbie, why didn't you tell me so?  All right, all right, the Petersons gonna get down tonight!"


            "Might do it, honey, if you get this house the way I like it."


            "Oh."


            "I won't be wearing any underwear, either."


            "Oh!"


            It's not fair, really.  I beg her to try something a little different, indulge in a little fantasy, and she presents me with a job worthy of Hercules.  How'd that go, anyway?  Didn't he have a river to wash out those stables?  I'd rather shovel shit any day than dust and vacuum anyway.


            James checked his watch: twelve twenty three.


            Barely three hours left.  I've got to get going.


            James made another inspection tour of the residence, trying to find the Achilles' heel of the mess.  He began blowing dust from the surfaces of the furniture in the living room.


            She'll never know the difference.


            Soon James was coughing and sitting back in his chair.


            There has to be a better way.  I've got to find something else to appease her.  It's just not right for a future Nobel prize winning novelist and poet to be wasting his time washing dishes and vacuuming up dust.  She ought to understand that.  A woman with a master's degree in nutrition, a feminist, surely she must know how degrading housework can be.  After all, she's done enough of it.


            James pulled out his notebook and began browsing through his stories and poems.


            Too bad a poem can't dust.  Too bad a short story won't make a bed.


            He closed the notebook and dropped it to the floor.  He glanced around the room, finding no spot satisfactorily clean.  He checked the bookcase, noted a Bible lying on top of a row of books, eyed his notebook, stood up, and clapped his hands sharply three times.


            That's it, Mr. Peterson, that's the answer.  I'll just be so busy writing a fine piece of feminist fiction that I won't have a chance to do any housework.  After all, I can't let my inspiration fade when it so seldom occurs.  She'll understand that, especially if I can pull off this story.


            James opened the Bible and began writing.  When he finished, he checked his watch: three fifteen.


            That was easy enough.  Let's reread the thing.  I think I've got it finished except for the title — I know — "A Woman's Job."






             A Woman's Job


                        In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.


                        And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the water.


                        And God said, Let there be light; and there was light.


                        And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.


                        And God called the light Day, and the darkness She called Night.  And the evening and the morning were the first day.


                        And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.


                        And God made the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament and it was so.


                        And God called the firmament heaven.  And the evening and the morning were the second day.


                        And God spent the next three days telling the earth to bring forth grass and the herb yielding fruit, setting the lights in the sky to divide the day and night, making the two great lights, the greater to rule the day, the lesser to rule the night, calling on the waters to bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven, telling the earth to bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle and creeping thing and beast of the earth.


                        And on the sixth day God said, Let us make woman in our image, after our likeness: and let her have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.


                        So God created woman in her own image, in the image of God created she her.


                        And God formed the woman of the dust of the ground and breathed into her nostrils the breath of life; and woman became a living soul.


                        And God took the woman and put her into the garden of Eden to dress it and keep it.


                        And God commanded the woman, saying, of every tree in the garden mayest thou freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.


                        And God said, It is not good that the woman should be alone;  I will make her a help meet for her.


                        And God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the woman, and she slept: and she took one of her ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof.


                        And the rib, which God had taken from the woman, made she a man, and brought him unto the woman.


                        And the woman said, This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh: he shall be called man for he was taken out of woman.


                        And they were both naked, the woman and her help meet, and were not ashamed.


                        Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which God had made.  And he said unto the man, yea, hath God said,  Ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden?


                        And the man said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden.  But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it lest ye go crazy or die.


                        And the serpent said unto the man, Ye shall neither go crazy nor die.  For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened and, lo!, what a rush ye shall have, getting so high ye shall think ye are God herself, knowing good and evil.


                        And when the man saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one get off bigger than shit, then he took of the fruit and did eat and gave also unto the woman; and she did eat.


                        And the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and feeling suddenly very kinky, they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.  And lo!, having eaten of the fruit, they became fruitful and did begin to multiply.


                        And God, she was pissed off and very saddened by the woman's weakness for the fruit of the man.  To the serpent and the man, she said, ye two shall grovel eternally hereafter, sliding in the dust.


                        And to the woman, she said, Well hell, woman, now everything's ruined.  And ye shall lose thy birthright.  And I shall cause enmity between thee and the man, causing thee to fuss and fight over sex and money and relatives, not to mention housework.  And the man shall rewrite this account in his own image, making thee his slave and giving thee all of the housework.  And yea, it shall go heavy with thee doing the dusting and the vacuuming all alone so that if there be among all the generations of serpents and menfolk one, yea even one, who would do his poor best to clean up the house, ye shall in that day be thankful unto him and cover thyself with that pink dress he likes so much and thy legs in those seamed nylons he ordered for thee from Frederick's of Hollywood, yea, even with thy garter belt shalt thou go clad, neglecting also to wear any panties.  And if this ye be unable to do, well hell, ye and the man shall fuss and fight anyway.  So there.


 


            James closed his notebook and spent a good fifteen minutes picking up the clutter of the house.  He even began doing the dishes.  When he was halfway through them he heard his wife at the door.  Moving rapidly, he pulled on Barbara's flowered apron and went to the door to let her in.


            "Aren't you finished yet?" Barbara asked, charging into the house with a double armload of groceries.  James took them from her and began putting them away, the honey and canned vegetables into the cabinets, the milk and eggs and fruit into the refrigerator.


            "Well, I got distracted, Baby.  I wrote something for you."


            Barbara was combing out her long brown hair.  She paused.


            "For me?  How sweet.  Let's see."


            Barbara began reading the story.  James paced continually, making his path about three feet in front of Barbara.  When she finished, she smiled the smile of a mother who's just received a crude valentine from a young child.


            "Oh Honey, you shouldn't have."


            "I know.  I was trying to get this place cleaned up the way you like it, and just as I was beginning to dust the living room, I noticed the Bible, and wham!, I'm hit with a sudden inspiration.  You know I couldn't let it go, cause love is more important that even housework."


            "Yes, yes, dear, it is," she said, patting him lightly on the head.


           "So why don't you go get your shower while I finish up these dishes?"


            "Shower?"


            "For tonight."


            "What about tonight?"


            "Aren't we going out for Chinese?"


            "Oh Lord, I forgot all about it.  I've invited Mom and Dad over for dinner."


            "But what about the garter belt?  The pink dress?  The hot night?"


            "They'll just have to wait until next week."


            "But that's what you said last week."


            "Did I?  Well, let's get this place cleaned up.  I couldn't do it tonight anyway, Honey.  I started today."


            "Started what?  Oh, started.  So?"


            "Besides, we don't have the money to go out this month."


            "But . . . But . . ."


            "You know our financial situation as well as I do.  Now let's get this place cleaned up."


            Barbara got the dust rag and some furniture polish and went to work.  James watched, his hands thrust into the pockets of the flowered apron.  Suddenly Barbara noticed him, came over, put her arms around him.


            "By the way, Honey, it was sweet of you to write that story.  And you've got one thing absolutely right about God."


            "What's that?"


            "She'd never send a man to do a woman's job."

1 comment:

TM said...

You made me cry, Buddy Don . . .