DeVos: Meeting my great-grandfather
The Friday Report
The fearsome scowl. Man, I hate it.
The morning started out with an uncomfortable silence, punctuated by rustling newspapers. Seeing nothing to lose, I crawled out onto the ice, “It would seem something is troubling you.”
Her scowl darkened the sky, “Yes,” she said, “you’ve tracked snow and mud into the house again.”
Back to preschool, “Did not,” I said looking over my shoulder at my tracks back to the door, “but even if I did, it was only to get your newspaper out of the driveway.”
Sounding irrationally upset, she hissed, “My newspaper? How can you even try to make it my fault when you’re the one who just tracked mud through the house? Do you have any idea how much it would help if you just took off your wet, muddy shoes at the door? Then you could put on some house slippers like I’ve done for years in a completely fruitless attempt to lead by example.”
“I have noticed that you seem to clean a lot.”
“Gee, maybe that’s because you dirty a lot. For instance, I cleaned this floor this morning. Look at it now,” she said with a theatrical sweep of her arm toward the wet, muddy trail that ended at my feet
“I think your dog Freeta might’ve done that,” I said, shuffling the incriminating footprints around with my boot. A muddy chunk of ice fell off my toe and we both stood there watching it melt. The hound, seemingly asleep on the sofa, reflexively curled her lip and growled at the slur.
Facing me in the classic yoga Angry-Wife-Hands-On-The-Hips pose, she said, “You have more slippers than Norm Frickey’s client list. Why won’t you wear them when you’re in the house?”
“Norm Frickey’s client … you’re mocking me again, aren’t you? Just because once in a while I come into the house with an armload of firewood whereupon I bitterly discover that I lack a second pair of arms to change shoes with.”
She squinted, as if examining a new species, “You tracking mud in the house is a daily occurrence. I will also point out that we’ve only had two fires and I brought in the wood for both of them.”
“You make it sound like I don’t do anything around here,” I said indignantly, “What about that new vacuum for your birthday?”
“Oh yeah, right, I nearly forgot, you’re immensely thoughtful. But you have to understand, your tracking-mud-in-the-house lifestyle interferes with my not-following-you-around-with-a-mop lifestyle.”
“Uh-huh,” I said, “my point exactly. Why would anyone buy a mop and not expect to use it?”
“Stop it,” she pleaded, “all you have to do is leave a pair of slippers at each door and change when you come in. Do it backwards when you leave.”
“That could work,” I said thoughtfully, “but then why do they put waffle treads on slippers if you aren’t supposed to wear them outside?”
“That’s got nothing to do with what I’m talking about,” she said, “Did your mother drop you a lot as a child? This one-sided conversation is about you not leaving dirt on the floor.”
“Dirt floors? Did you know my great-grandfather grew up with dirt floors? I wonder if when he tracked in mud he got praised for polishing them?”
“At this rate you’ll soon be able to ask him.”
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