Monday, May 16, 2005
The Battle of The Sponges
"Paul's very nice really. We make a great match. He loves to travel and all that."

I was on the phone with my sister Iris who was telling me about her latest boyfriend.

"Well that's good. At least he doesn't call you his little 'hamhock' like that other guy you were with."

"Oh shut up. Howard adored me. It was just his way of showing affection."

"By calling you a slab of meat?"

"He was sweet!" Iris laughed.

"That's not sweet--it's just plain weird. Anyway, if he was so sweet why aren't you still with him?"

"Turned out he was an alcoholic."

"Jesus, Iris! Where do you find these guys? An alcoholic with a fetish for bacon!"

"Shall we talk about some of your choices in men?" Iris asked archly.

Sensing dangerous territory, I decided to quickly change the subject.

"Ummm. That's ok. So you've been staying at Paul's house?"

"Uh huh. It's a great place actually--he has excellent taste." I could hear my sister taking a long drag on her cigarette. "He's sort of a neat freak though. I mean I like a clean house and all, but he's a little anal about it. We got into a fight over the sponge thing."

I was curious. "The sponge thing?"

"Yeah. He has three sponges in the kitchen that are color coded for different purposes. There's a yellow one for the dishes, a blue one for counters and tables and a green one for wiping spills off the floor. Or is it the blue one for the dishes and the yellow one for the floor? Oh hell, I can't keep them straight. That's pretty much what the fight was about."

"He color codes his sponges?"

"Yes. He explained the whole system to me but I just can't keep it straight. You know how I am about remembering things like that. God. Anyway I just kept smiling and nodding like I understood what he was saying, but I think he was still suspicious. He kept testing me all weekend."

I laughed. "How did he do that?"

"We'd be standing in the kitchen, and he'd ask me to hand him the table sponge then watch to see which one I'd pick up."

"What did you do?"

"Well the first couple of times I pretended I had to suddenly go to the bathroom. It got to where I would do just about anything NOT to be in the kitchen. But he began to suspect that either something was up or I had a bladder the size of a pea. Anyway I finally just had to hand him a damn sponge.

She sighed. "You should have seen it, Juno. I kept watching his face for a reaction while I held my hand over the sponges, trying to get a clue as to which one it was. I thought I might be able to fake him out, you know? I knew the yellow one was wrong because he got this sort of smirk on his face when I touched it. So I just grabbed the green one instead."

"Wrong choice?"

"Yup--floor sponge. He was so frustrated that he started going off at me. 'How many times to I have to explain this to you before you get it! It's not that hard! Are you stupid?' and stuff like that."

I got mad at that one. "What an ass! Where does he get off talking to you like that! Besides you're not stupid, your special. "

"Gee thanks."

"No problem. Seriously though! Does he think you're a child?"

"Evidently. Anyway, I got back at him though."

A defiant tone had crept into my sister's voice that I recognized from our childhood days.

"What did you do?"

"After he left the room, I took each sponge and wiped it on the floor and put it back in place."

We laughed.

"Did you tell him?" I grinned.

"Nope. It sort of makes it more evil somehow. Just knowing how crazy it would make him if he knew. Now everytime he grabs the table sponge and does his little self-rightous routine, I just smile to myself because I know it just doesn't matter. It really shouldn't matter, you know? I mean if you wash a dish or wipe down a table it's really the same thing."

"I have a separate sponge for the floor. I keep it under the sink."

"Right--that's normal. What's not normal is color coding the stupid things and making a guessing game out of them."

We sit in companionable silence for a minute.

"That's very Aunt Fran now that I think of it," I offer after a moment.

"True. God, that woman made our lives hell."

"Remember the time she made you clean the kitchen floor with a scrub brush and kept yelling at you that you weren't doing it right?"

"Yes. I must have been all of eight years old--something like that."

"I remember she kept ragging on you . You were crying and asked her what you were supposed to do, and she told you to stop being lazy and use some elbow grease. When she came back in the kitchen later she found you digging around under the kitchen sink looking for the can of elbow grease."

"Well what the heck was I supposed to think? The woman was positively evil."

"True."

My call waiting beeped, and I glanced at the phone.

"Iris, I better go. Brian's trying to call in on the other line for me to pick in up at the mall. Can I talk to you later?"

"Sure. Love you."

"You too. Bye"
Memories and musings shared by Juno
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I'm a 40-something writer, artist, and Jill-of-All-Trades. For me, magic is looking at the ordinary and seeing the extraordinary. My writing tends to take me to unexpected places--not so surprising when I think about it. I had an unusual growing up and have always chosen the offbeat over the "safe". I prefer interesting people over beautiful ones, and I am fascinated by people's stories. What I love most about life is its glorious imperfections and fantastic plot twists.

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