It works both ways.
Yesterday, I mentioned we had houseguests – two adults, a baby and a dog. I tried my best – and unquestionably failed – to appear loosey-goosey and honkey-dorey with the arrangement. It’s a tricky adjustment, especially, for people of a certain temperament, that temperament being, “I prefer things the way I prefer things.”
There is a list of adaptations I am required to make as a result of my domicile’s population ballooning from two to six, if you count the dog, and, as I am required to adapt to the dog as well, I do. To delineate that list, however, would make me seem petty, unreasonable, inhospitable and mean.
Forget that I said “There is a list of adaptations.” There’s no list. In fact, I never really said there was. Some evil “Anti-Earl” hacked into my blog and inserted “There is a list”, and being techno-ignorant, I am unable to get it out. Believe me, there is no list.
Okay, one thing from the list: Blueberries.
Every morning, I eat some form of cereal that has no sugar in it, because I am trying to avoid sugar, the result being that the cereal without sugar that I eat tastes like wheatless cardboard. (I am also trying to avoid wheat.)
To make up for the lack of flavor, I sprinkle blueberries on the cereal-that-otherwise- has-no-flavor, and it seems to help. I don’t know exactly how many blueberries I sprinkle, I am not so anal that I count them, but I do eyeball the number, because I am not so flexible that I don’t.
I would say I sprinkle ten to twelve blueberries onto my otherwise tasteless cereal.
Well, sir, as it turns out, baby Milo also likes blueberries. The cool thing is, you don’t have to feed them to him. You place a blueberry in his hand, and he stuffs it right into has mouth. It’s actually fun watching him do that.
the carton of blueberries gets perilously close to having ten to twelve blueberries left in it. Then, other emotions start to kick in, emotions that impel me to want baby Milo to stop eating blueberries
The boundary is luminously distinct – it’s exactly a dozen blueberries left in the carton. (“Margin of Error” – two.) It is at that point that my reaction goes from, “Look at that; he’s feeding himself blueberries” to “Those are my blueberries! Stop eating them!”
I realize this reaction does not show me in a particularly appealing light. I freely admit it. I am highly sensitive to the issue of “Space, Time and Convenience Encroachment.” What I will only say in my defense, well, not “defense” exactly, but as a mitigating factor before you pass severe judgment on me, is that I am equally or even more sensitive to other people’s “Sense of Encroachment” as well.
At the age of 23, after returning to Toronto following a rather lengthy sojourn in London, I lived in a number of different places, which maybe, the thought comes to mind, I ought to tell you about sometime. Yeah, I should do that. Excuse me, while write myself a reminder.
Okay, I’m back. So – some of this is hazy – but there came a time when I had no place to live, and I was offered temporary lodging by some very excellent friends. These friends, a couple – I had known the guy longer, but I love them both equally – had just recently gotten married, and were living with her Dad in her Dad’s house. I was provided with a comfortable room in their fully finished basement. With an adjoining bathroom to boot.
I gratefully accepted, and I moved in. I no longer recall how long I stayed, but I know it was longer than my current houseguests will be staying with us, at least, such is the hope, and perhaps, the prayer. My memory is I stayed a number of months.
And it was wonderful. My hosts could not have been more generous and accommodating. Lodging, food, laundry, heat – everything I needed was provided for me. Without complaint or the slightest hint of inconvenience. Or, if I recall correctly, a bill.
On top of that, the Dad, a natural humorist, and full-time musician, was also a westerns lover. At those times when I wasn’t hanging out with my friends, I was down in the basement, a gen-u-ine Winchester carbine rifle which the Dad supplied me, cradled “at the ready”, the Dad as my sidekick – or maybe I was his sidekick – sitting on the edge of our seats, as we watched “The Duke” galloping “hell bent for leather” across Monument Valley. These were some of my happiest times ever.
The entire houseguest experience was, in fact, excellent and wonderful.
I’m a houseguest. Living in somebody else’s house. For an extended period of time. How would I feel if the situation were reversed? I know how I’d feel. Like I’m feeling right now!
And probably more so.
They were newlyweds, with newlyweds’ requisite shakedown requirements. On top of that, the couple too, in a way, were houseguests, adults, living under a parent’s roof. So there was that stress enhancer as well.
And on top of all that, there was me!
Despite any signal, subtle or otherwise, that I had overstayed my welcome – this was an entirely self-determined operation – I sensed that it was time for me to go.
I just had no idea how to say it.
Now check this out. Although, without question, I had the articulatory ability to sit down with his hyper-hospitable family and say, “I really appreciate what you’ve done for me, but I really think I need to go”, what emerged from my mouth instead was, “I am moving to New York to become a comedian.”
You see how deftly I handled that? I sidestepped the entire “living arrangements” issue, replacing it with, “I have radically altered my ‘Life Plan’, which involves me moving to another country.”
I mean what could they say to that? “You can’t move to New York; you have to stay in our basement”? It was “win-win.” No drama. “I’m off to Yokohama!”
It wasn’t like it was entirely implausible –“I am going the join the Space Program” or “I’m going to try out for the Yankees.” There was a granule of credibility in the idea. I may have even wanted to be a comedian, although years ago, I wrote a blog post listing the multiple reasons I couldn’t be.
What I really wanted to do was move out. Because it was time. But, wanting avoid an uncomfortable conversation, I concocted a subterfuge.
And it worked. Except for the part about becoming a comedian. Though there was little chance of that working under any circumstances. But you see what I mean by “It works both ways.”
It was the same situation I’m in now. Except the positions were flipped, and I was the baby.
Though the couple was and remains exponentially nicer than I am, still, I wonder if they ever counted the blueberries.