Friday, March 7, 2014

Reality Rats

Except for medical and dental appointments and flights I seldom have to be anywhere.  Sometimes there are social engagements and/or cultural activities but I am on a liquid diet and the truth is I have no gumption for anything that wouldn’t include a meal.  I binge on Housefinders International and look on line for real estate opportunities in Belize or Serbia.  It would be good to maintain a nice lifestyle and not have to work .  Actually, I can’t complain about my current lifestyle and I pretty much don’t have to work much now but still satisfaction, for the most part, eludes me. 

On one of Himself’s teaching nights I indulge in Guilt Trip with Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogan.  It is a work-a-day predictable crowd pleasing comedy.  Streisand is a, sort of reined in and classy, despite her controlling brashness, Jewish mother.  Some of the dialogue is inspired and reminds me of the way I talk to my own kids. “Do you need me to pick up some underwear for you at The Gap?”  I am totally embarrassing and annoying but I’m so full of warmth that the kids have to be nice to me.  Seth needs to rev up his imagination and Barbra needs to expand her horizons and find fulfillment outside of motherhood.  After a few explosions they learn to make the most of their closeness.  Mom and son bring out the best in each other and ultimately navigate to a mutually satisfactory conclusion. The Rogan character has at least a decade on my kids but perhaps when they become of age they’ll help me figure it out.

A friend with a very stressful job is afraid that retirement would inspire her to eat and not much else.  I find that since the kids are gone I have so much time on my hands that it is hard to control grazing.  I do not miss the pace of life before the kids were driving but I miss the satisfaction I experienced in attending to their needs. I do not miss the emotional drama of four people living in the same household.  In my late fifties I’d envisioned having some chill time now, a reward for my efforts.  I have occasionally to wake up in the middle of the night to fulfill an order.  Working in the wee hours is pretty uncommon though and I can pretty much operate the business from anywhere in the world where there’s  wi fi.  For decades I was stuck in my office running things via telephone or written correspondence between the hours of nine and five thirty. My employees and I don’t really need to be in the office 40 hours a week but now there is the requirement of keeping in touch for the entire day and over the weekend. Still I describe myself as being in a state of “semi-retirement.” Since the kids are gone except for traveling I have not quite found my groove.  I always assumed that given an abundance of free time, Id write. But, since Spuds flew the coop I’ve only accomplished the minimum.  I manage to keep up these weekly pieces but have been unable to write anything other than this nor have I been able to motivate myself to go back and mine old pieces and hack them into submitable form. The only new routines born of the empty nest  are immoderate snacking and watching Judge Judy just about every day. My kids are mortified when I report the Judy obsession to their friends.

I was thrilled while I was in London I could watch Judy at the same time I do here.  That and seeing The Curious Incident of the Dog at Midnight before the roof of the theater crashed were definitely the highlights of my trip.  I am not really a slave to Judy but there was a sort of novelty about trying to see her in an English context because Judy is such a quintessentially Jewish American mother.  And I am proud to have Judy represent the tough love Jewish mom. Judy is all about prudence and to some she might seem condescending.  Sometimes I even agree that she is a bit much.   At times her judgments seem very biased and perhaps serve her social agenda more than justice.  Nevertheless the show is very entertaining and it’s broadcast all over the world.  Judy is to be lauded for imparting moral lessons, larded into pure entertainment, to so many millions of viewers.

Another recent distraction has been sort of like living in a reality show myself.
The fact of our hillside location and idiosyncratic house will always preface my confession, that, we have rats.  Our fifty year old house has been do-it-yourselfed from one level  into four and there is plumbing on three levels. We have battled treacherous rodents for over twenty years.  Four different exterminators have thrown in the towel and simply stopped returning our calls.  I notice on Yelp that there is a service that brags about being woman owned.  Kat’s Rats has a hot pink motif and scads of rave reviews.  Kat arrives in a pink truck bearing a cartoon of a lady strangling a rat. There is a hot pink streak in her black hair. I learn within fifteen minutes that Kate’s husband died young of a brain tumor and she is left raise her two sons.  Kat has triumphed now from homelessness to having one son doing rough work on her crew and the other majoring in English Literature at the University of San Francisco. 

Kat, her son and a godson so close she calls him her son spend several hours casing out our joint.  They take numerous photos and  execute precise diagrams. Then, we wait for Kat’s recommendations.  Two installers yank my old dishwasher from the wall and a rat runs out before Kat’s bid is received.  Kat apologizes profusely for the delay, explaining that there’s been a family emergency.  The bid arrives several hours later with a twenty page attachment.  There is some pretty scientific information about rat behavior and a comprehensive description of the work proposed.  For the extensiveness of the job and the guaranteed results the bid is high, but fair.

Half a day is spent installing traps and crawling around and sealing pipes and spouts.  Our luck is bad though and a rat dashes across the kitchen in broad day light and then another one (or maybe the same one running in circles, suggests Kat ) There are some pipes that cannot be examined without the removal of a chunk of ceiling from Spuds’ room.  I send my employees over with saws and they return taken with Kat and her pink duct tape.

I’m not having a good week.  I’m overmedicated and still in a bit of pain from oral surgery.  And not eating solid food is tantamount to psychological torture.  Kat comes by to check traps a couple afternoons a week. She always sits down before she goes for a little chat.  I am feeling so rough that don’t feel like talking.  I kind of dread it when she positions her butt over the chair but then I find myself captivated by the saga of the single mom/terminatress, even if it’s right in the middle of Judge Judy.

The ceiling is removed but there is no clear view of the pipes so Kat needs to smoke test the house.  This involves closing all the vents and shooting smoke through the main line to reveal the hole the rats are using to enter.  Given my week of morass I am certain completely sealing the house will require the demolition of a concrete floor.  We are not able to locate the entrance for the main line.  I show Kat where I remember it being but it isn’t there.

 One of the office guys comes and finally digs where I believe the cap is located.  He  locates the clean out.  Kat can’t come until Friday because there is a family funeral on Thursday. The new dishwasher makes a terrible noise and I am certain that it has been rat ravished and that the warranty will be void.  The serviceman lets the dogs out and I have to chase them for several blocks.  The repairman starts the machine and it is quiet and whatever was causing the noise seems to have righted itself.  It is enormous relief not to worry that the serviceman will report with disgust that due to having been installed in such a filthy house the new machine is rat wrecked and the warranty is thus voided.

Kat says that after having been homeless she started working as a receptionist at a pest control firm.  Then, noticing how much more money the servicemen made, she begged to learn the trade.  She owned a home but it was foreclosed and now she is renting.  She has a number of dogs including one that she rescued but was then sought out by his original owners who she sadly observes now keep him tied up. 

Kat is considering going to San Francisco to celebrate Valentine’s Day with her son and his girlfriend.  Valentine’s Day is the anniversary of their first date Kat reports.  She adds that an ex-boyfriend has asked her out for Valentine’s Day but she has refused.  I think Kat also says that Valentine’s Day is the birthday of her husband who died but I am taking pain medication and perhaps this is from a real reality show.  Teen Mom?

Kat is upset about the persistence of our rats.  She says the stress is so great that she goes off a week- long diet and eats candy and a cupcake. I am not at all surprised when Kat tells me about auditioning for the reality show Verminators.  She says she got the part because they were casting a female role and the other candidates were what the producer determined to be “too butch.”  In the show, which unfortunately isn’t available on demand, she plays a rookie but Kat says that the main character’s ego was a bit wounded by her presence so she only appears on a few episodes.  Still, interacting with her always feels like the cameras are still rolling.

Kat is a reality show heroine. It is etched in stone that the problem will seem unsolvable but always, in the end, Kat will prevail. And then Kat will move on to rescue another  distressed household.  At which time it might be advisable for me to join a gym or take a class or soon I will be lowering my already bottom of the barrel, television standards. Not to mention, that I my return to solid food might prove catastrophic. 

1 comment:

John L. Murphy / "Fionnchú" said...

"Larded" makes a fine verb. I suppose it's inevitable that living adjacent (well, at least a half an hour with no traffic, and that's only as far west as Los Feliz) to the Homes of the Stars, we get one degree removed from reality (sic) tv. I fear how much this is running, as I mentioned this in passing in class and my student who works for Terminex mused aloud the same. May this episode come soon, all credit to our determined pink crew. xxx me