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Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2005
I think Iíve made up a newish sort of term that might describe weeks like the past one.

Unplanned scuttling. You know, like, to scuttle. To cut a hole in, to cause to sink. Or a receptacle for coal. I dunno if the coal thing works well with this particular imagery, but maybe. Itís a reach, but maybe.

See, you canít plan scuttling like what goes on around here in any rational way. I canít plan much of anything, period, when the Eldest Daughter calls from out of the blue and sez, ďOh hey, already talked to Mom, you donít mind if I move back home do ye?Ē in the same way she would request a hand doing her laundry or something. And then, in the next breath, affirm that ďIt isnít like Iíd actually be moving in or anything, you know, like I donít live with Aunt Jen either. I just stash my stuff there and I really live with (insert name of Girlfriend here) most of the week. Maybe a night or two at home, but really youĎd hardly know I was there.Ē

Hereís another thing I dunno. I dunno if I get this whole approach to cohabitation figured out. Letís see, do I have this straight? You move in here, but not really, as it only involves a mattress and an alarm clock and a suitcase full of clothes. Now the stuff from Aunt Jenís, the furniture and the big TV and several boxes of whatall, that goes into the storage unit currently housing the detritus and flotsam and justplaincrap that should have got thrown out when Ally and I moved house in May. And the rest? Is stuff at (insert name of Girlfriend here)ís house, more clothes for sure, but nothing so personal as a waffle iron, a yearbook or an ottoman.

ďBecause, you know, itís important that Girlfriend and I have that space thing . . .Ē

Now it isnít as though we donít have a spare bedroom here at the rental. Or that there isnít some space at the storage unit (a unit that, come to think of it, is roughly the same size as the Dwarf Garage).

And it ainít like Iím gonna say ďBejus! Youíre a full grown woman, go get yerself an apartment or a flat or whatever and suck it up like the rest of us!Ē No, Iím not gonna do that. Specifically because, like most parents, I leave the option of shelter open on the nonce of birds flitting away. That conversation was had, it was, at a group hug some years ago. I recall it with the precision of things I can recall that donít include yesterdays dinner menu, but what might include things of importance. Lifestyles, for example, or the purchase of Toyotas or firearms. Stuff like that I remember.

It was a thunderous session, Iíd drawn the three progeny into one room a couple of years ago and enlisted Ally as secretary. ďListen,Ē I waxed, ďHereís the deal. You want to go to college, you live here rent free, expense free. I feed and wash and provide electrical and internet and random sewage utilities. You work and school yourself and call if you canít make dinner. But if you elect the school ainít me option, you get to kick in something for the trouble. Call it an honorarium, if you want. Something to help out. Trust me, it wonít be much.Ē And it wasnít. If someone quoted me the requested amount for rent and food and all the trimmings that I quoted them, Iíd jump all over it, and feast on their largesse forever and ever, amen.

So it was, with no small amount of righteousness that I queued up Ally on the cell phone immediately after Bethís call, and inquired ďHuh. Hope she ainít scared of paying the rent. And that storage unit is costing us a small fortune a month, too.Ē

ďWhat do you mean, rent.Ē

ďThe rent, the rent! Sheís gonna pay us something for this deal, right?Ē

Oh wrong-o, Bullwinkle. Oh how wrong thy mighty moose antlers are, Chuckles.

Iíll clip this short, Ďcause things like scuttling could tend to run long and get ugly (which in fact it did), and since you donít plan them, are something of a mystery in any event.

But.

After a strategic call to Aunt Jen, my sister-in-law, things began to run a little more clear in my West Virginia mountain stream of life. She said, ďI donít know what her deal is, but she owes me the last two months rent and keeps dodging me. Checkís in the mail shit, you know what I mean?Ē I do, Jen and I have always had one of those quasi-internet relationships, meaning that we communicate well with the written word, understand an intelligence beyond the level of the 7th grade and most importantly do not bullshit each other. She might be my wifeís sister but she is most assuredly not Ally in any way. She was upset, afraid to cause a family row, and said as much. I told her not to worry, and to consider the sale of a large TV belonging to the Eldest if worse came to worse, fallout be damned.

The scuttling got worse at the end of the work day, when it became clear that Ally was going to hold her hilltop defensive position and fire long bursts of venom from weapons on full-auto so long as I insisted on Rights of Free Speech or whatever, so I did the sensible thing and STFU.

In this vein, and under a cloud of marriage scuttling that tends to come and go at times like this, we had to attend our first of the Season Christmas gig, which was actually Allyís, where vendors of the local automobile sales profession gather to rid the world of annoying gin and discuss power steering options at a local hotel on the beach. A boisterous affair, attended by hearty sharkskin and comely wench, both. A stay the night affair because, after all, one does not rid the world of gin and Coronnaís and then proceed to pilot the aforementioned automobile west, away from the water. At least not when Christmas is coming. Ally is popular at this yearly affair, where florid men in red ties feel free to paw and grope on the dance floor while I engage the waitress in a lively game of step-ín-fetchit from table to yon barkeep.

Also in this vein, and given the unavoidable cohabitation made possible by the confines of a urine odiferous King Suite and questionable cable connection, we un-scuttled the meanness and conversed sensibly, so long as the topic was carefully steered away from Eldest, Rental fees and spare bedrooms. Why, we even took advantage of our established custom the following morning, involving omlettes and bacon at the fashionable eatery we never go to at any other time of the year.

Beth the Eldest makes a good living. She hoists packages from barge to desktop all day, and is hugely busy at this time of year in her tall sided delivery wagon, alarming other motorists with sudden downshifts and random stops in loading zones with a hand truck, spearing cardboard, and a clipboard collecting autographs all day long.

She makes enough to tip a coin or two into the quavering tin cup at the end of my doddering hand, Iím quite sure. Whether that actually happens, or I just abandon the project of enforcing fiscal accountability remains to be seen.

But thereís always that forgive and forget thing. That unique marriage thing. Someone needs to forgive, the other forget. Rarely should it occur that the same person performs both actions because if you do, the other party winds up with a really bad taste in their mouth. Our own Lord and Saviour recommended forgiving 70 times 7 in his excellent published work, but I can tell you this: They didnít live as long back then as we do now. 70 times 7 ran out years and years ago here, oh Lord.

And He never once mentioned Unplanned Scuttling that I know of. Itís curious, given how many times it happens in the course of a lifetime.

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