Def: o'kay ter'ri'fic: 1.common expression of muted astonishment due to being surrounded by amazing stupidity, without quite knowing what else to say. 2.expression that usually precedes the changing of a subject brought up by an individual who is perfectly clueless to anything or anyone outside their own narcissistic corner of the universe. Origin: Unknown

Location: Bergen County, New Jersey, United States

Steven Hill is the author of the independently published A VOICE ABOVE THE DIN, available at www.lulu.com/holbrookhill, or Amazon or B&N.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Waking Awareness of a Guilt-free Worrywart

I’ve never been much of a morning person. It’s probably because I’m not a heavy sleeper. I’m not sure why this is the case. Perhaps it has something to do with me being a worrywart. Heck, I can’t even eat fat-free Fig Newtons without feeling guilty about it.

Take for example, a recent family vacation trip to North Carolina. The rental house in question was an eight-bedroom mansion right on the beach. A truly stunning home . . . that is if you ignore the plethora of spider nests occupying every corner and the ant colonies selling condos next to week old crumbs on the dining table. The unlikely event that the house survived Hurricane Isabel pretty much unscathed aside, it was a pigsty. It looked as if it hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned since, well . . . since it had been built some five years ago. After getting nowhere complaining to the rental company, My Neo-German Better Half decided to take matters into her own hands. White Tornado that she is, it didn’t take much on her part to corral the rest of our party to help her give the house a once over that would make Mr. Clean look like a Bombay slumlord.

Despite the usual protests of a bad back and an inoperable hairline fracture to my pinky--and an insatiable desire for my head to be supported by a couple of down pillows after ten hours of stop-and-go driving punctuated every fifteen minutes by a bladder bursting crowd of twelve and under kids--I soon found myself vacuuming up spider after spider in our chosen oceanview bedroom. I’m not kidding when I tell you there were a lot of them. Those pesky arachnids had even made homes in all the intricate loops of the four poster wrought-iron bed. After a good thirty minutes of meticulous debugging, I found myself answering the doorbell to a portly black woman who was curiously dressed as a cleaning lady.

"The boss told me you folks had a musty room that needs some fixing," she said. "I got the chemicals right here."

"Um, sure," I replied, glancing over my shoulder at three petite white girls whizzing through the house in the first ever Duck, North Carolina Annual Vacuum Race. "Let me show you the way."

Ever conscious of the fact that this poor woman was basically experiencing a slap in the face to her Herculean cleaning skills, I escorted her directly through The Clean Team gauntlet to the room in question--my bedroom. Without batting an eyelash, she followed me, obediently sprayed her little bottle all over the carpet, and left without a peep.

I began to wonder if she even cared that we were mopping up after her. Being that she probably pulled in a hefty minimum wage for her efforts at tidying up ten or so twenty-room oceanfront manors in the period of about five hours before she retired to her tarpaper shack in the fume-filled shadows of I-95, I figured not.

Satisfied and content, I decided it was time to settle down into my spotless bed for a few hours of guilt-free shuteye. Ironically, for pretty much the first time in my entire life, I slept like a rock. My Better Half told me the next morning that I was screaming in my sleep, but that she herself was too tired to be bothered by it. Though I didn’t recall the screaming part, I do remember a very real nightmare of spiders, plagues of them, swooping down all over me during the night while Aunt Jemima--I say that affectionately--held me pinned down to the bed in a crazed fit of caste system revenge.

After finally awakening to pools of sweat the size of Lake Superior spreading underneath me, my sight fell on the corner post of the wrought-iron bed that was next to my head. A brave lone spider--no doubt sent from the surviving Death Squad Jihad Resistance Force that’d escaped my vacuumous onslaught the previous evening--had strung a single, defiant strand of web through one of the loops. It glistened against the sunlight filtering through the Ralph Lauren blinds. As I rose stiffly from the unfamiliar bed, my small intestine heaved in a Napoleonic coup d’etat against the rest of my digestive system, reminding me that payback is a bitch for any guilt-ridden worrywart, especially when the previous day’s Fig Newtons begin to take effect on your first day of vacation.

©2003 Steven H. Hill


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