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SHREWSBURY, Massachusetts – After years of living with people; first my parents and then my ex husband, then a long term relationship that didn’t go anywhere, I’m not ashamed to say that living alone is quite possibly the best thing that has ever happened to me. I’m carefree, untethered and independent.
It’s glorious not to worry about how I look when I wake up with spiked hair and dog breath. The only thing better is coming home and finding the house exactly as I left it – clean and quiet. I can watch late, late movies, read in bed without a flashlight and enjoy TV shows that don’t involve explosives, feathered head-dresses or three imbeciles banging each other over the head.
But, the other day I saw smoke rise from under my car hood and couldn’t remember which was the carburetor and which was the radiator. And it’s really tough dragging garbage cans to the top of my steep driveway.
But, I no longer find dried out orange peels on the coffee table or peanut shells between couch cushions, and the remote control is always where I left it. And now I can prepare meals that include things like artichokes, and liver, and I can buy lamb chops that were too expensive for two.
I admit that I hate being stuck with the gardening. I find no joy in the pain of kneeling on hard ground, sweating in the summer heat, or territorial battles with worms. And since I don’t readily recognize perennials, I generally yank out budding plants and fertilize weeds.
But, it’s a worthwhile tradeoff because I never have to account to anyone. I can head for my house, change my mind, go to the mall, take in a movie and go out to eat; all without having to phone home to explain.
I can decide not to cook dinner and, instead, feast on Triskets, Marshmallow Fluff and smoked oysters. And, I can make my bed in one minute flat because only my side is rumpled.
I’ve become so self sufficient I even hang wallpaper – sort of. I laid the paper out on the table, covered it with paste, climbed up the ladder and let the paper unfurl. My daughter stood below smoothing it out on the wall. When she was finished I looked down from the ladder and asked, “Is it hanging straight?” and when she assured me that it was, I came down and looked.
“Abby,” I said incredulously, “the paper is two feet too short!”
“Oh,” she acknowledged, “but it is hanging straight. Right?”
And, I’m learning how to paint. I’ve seen people paint a room in an hour. I don’t know if I’m a perfectionist or an idiot, because it took me an entire week to paint the walls of my average sized bedroom. Then I stood back and admired my work. When I hired a painter for some heavy duty basement painting I was dumb enough to drag him upstairs and show off my handiwork. He smiled condescendingly.
“Great start,” he said.
“Great start?” I wailed. “Great start?”
He proceeded to walk around the room and point out the many areas I’d completely missed.
“Okay. You win,” I cried. “Repaint the damn room.”
I’ve almost mastered plumbing. When my kitchen sink was clogged I knew to pour in Drano crystals but when, after three hours my sink still had half an inch of water I decided to force it down using the blowing side of my wet vac. That might have worked except the water shot clear across my kitchen and into my livingroom, carrying tiny blue bullets of Drano with it, and causing me to flee to the shower barely escaping third degree burns.
I am, begrudgingly, beginning to believe that I may, on some level, need a man in my life again. Towards that goal I have placed an ad in my local paper:
CLOSET MAN WANTED: Must be willing to put up with my insanity without expressing any opinions of your own. Your job will be to smile benignly while I rant, rave and generally screw up things I should have given you to do in the first place, but had to prove to myself I could do. You must always be available to accommodate my every reasonable whim and then disappear back into your closet, which will be decorated to your taste with dirty socks and wet towels on the floor, a sink stacked high with dirty dishes, a refrigerator filled with decomposed foods that double as penicillin, Playboy magazines scattered over the floor and a greasy calendar picture of Miss January1963 hanging on the door. A trough urinal will replace a toilet. This should increase the odds of you hitting the target, which men seem to have trouble doing.