Monday, May 05, 2008

Futher adventures of the last holdouts to gentrification.

It sort of defies explanation how I ended up at my mother’s house on Saturday morning in my pajamas, knowing that the police were on their way.

Well, no, it doesn’t. She'd brought my brother Oliver over to my house that morning and theCSO and I had rolled out of bed, pulled on jeans and met them at the door. My brother and my husband had business to discuss. After fifteen minutes of negotiations about how much extra Oliver was going to charge theCSO and me when he mowed around all the construction stuff in our yard, my mother needed to get back to her house.

I’d told Oliver I would drive him to his first job of the morning so he and theCSO could finish their negotiation. As he was getting out of the car, Oliver casually mentioned that I should probably call and check on my mother. She’d had to leave because she was kicking a big mean guy out of her house.

(The ChaliceMom and ChaliceDad for reasons CC can’t fathom allow Jason and Oliver to run a flophouse for their degenerate little friends in the basement. Sometimes, those friends need to get kicked out.)


I drove over to my mother’s house.

This was one UGLY big mean guy. He stomped around halfassedly packing his car, but mostly yelling threats and in general making a spectacle of himself. My parents’ neighbors paused at their flowerbeds and looked up to watch. They have to be used to this by now, but I was still dying a bit inside.

Big mean guy hadn’t been paying any rent, but he had been there over 30 days, which grants him some rights in our county. When it was pointed out that he couldn’t PROVE he’d been there over 30 days, he decided to call the cops and ask them to work it out.

Fair enough.

It was about then that I realized that I may be a Smith by birth and thus capable of anything as far as law enforcement is concerned, but I usually like to be wearing a bra when I talk to the police.

“Things here seem pretty good,” I said. “I think I’ll head on home.”

My mother reached out and grabbed my wrist, "Please?" she said. I held her hand.

Big mean guy slammed a large box down in the driveway. “My car is legal,” he said mock philosophically, “I don’t know about Oliver’s car.”

The Chalicemom and I looked at each other and shrugged. So what if it’s not? You can have a non-street legal car in your driveway. The cops can only ticket if it’s a junker that has been there for 90 days or so or if they see you driving it. Every Smith knows that.

“And what if they search your house? I bet Oliver has some nasty stuff on his computer.”

My mother and I looked at each other. This might be a problem. If Oliver had any particularly weird porn or had contracted with any hookers and left evidence on his computer, he could go back to jail. And the police have an excellent record of finding probable cause to search the houses where my brothers live.

I will freely admit my brother is a terrible person, but he is a terrible person who is giving making an honest living a shot and on some level I respect that.

My mother looked at me. “Can you get rid of anything weird on Oliver’s computer?” she asked.

“Dunno. Don’t think so. But I can keep the police from looking in it. I’ll be back in ten minutes.”

I took the computer and stuck it in the back of my car. I drove home, trying really hard not to think about those lines from Animal Farm, “Twelve voices were shouting in anger, and they were all alike. No question, now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

I dropped the laptop off and put on some lawyer clothes. One of my more casual suits, some pearls, some nice shoes. Look at me, respectable member of society.

I was back at my parents’ house in time to talk to the police. I talked to them about our unruly houseguest. Big ugly guy stalked off. The police left. I talked to my mom about going to the magistrate to get a stay-away order.

“So,” my mother said. “I’m going to head over to the county courthouse, but the Flower Mart at the National Cathedral is today and your father and I were thinking about going later this afternoon. Would you like to come along?”

I declined. The day was starting to heat up, and my suit was starting to get uncomfortable.

Whose brother insists there was nothing weird on the computer, but who didn’t look herself.


ogre said...

Ah, family.

The shape, stories and trials vary. But they all are, in their own ways, trials. And everyone should have one.

For no particular reason, Dr. Seuss's last book leaps to mind--Oh, The Places You'll Go!


epilonious said...

There is something beautifully revealing and catastrophic about the line "Every Smith knows this."

Anonymous said...

You make me feel like I've led such a sheltered life....

fausto said...

You should never miss the Flower Mart. When I was in fourth grade I won a goldfish there that lived five years. I also won the cake walk, but it might have been a different year.

Chalicechick said...

The Goldfish would not live nine minutes with our three cats.