July 31, 2006

Saint Mother And The Holy Land

Much to my surprise, Faux Ma has stepped up to the plate and is being active in the selling of the Faux home. They’ve lived there for thirty-four years, and despite talking for the last five years about moving for the sake of the ever-declining mobility of Faux Pa, the wheels of moving elsewhere are actually turning now that their neighborhood is officially diverse.

This segment of their lives is proving to be more than challenging for Boyfriend and me. While it is definitely taking a toll on Faux Ma, to watch her struggle through this process is annoying and frustrating.

First came Faux Ma’s realization that the office carpet looked shabby. She decided she needed to replace it before the house went up for sale and asked the realtor what color she should make it. Of course the answer was beige. I can completely understand that. I can’t completely understand why the carpet had to be replaced in the first place, but I suppose that wasn’t for me to decide. She assured us more than once that the realtor was the one who chose the beige color. We all know that she would have chosen beige herself, but she seemed to feel ashamed of that fact and repeatedly blamed the boring carpet color on the realtor.

The carpet store rep said the room had to be cleared of any furniture, of course. There is a hide-a-bed in that room, and The Fauxs decided to pay the carpet installers $30 to move that piece of furniture to avoid herniating themselves. When the carpet installers picked up the couch, they forgot it was a hide-a-bed and the mattress frame flung itself into the wall, making a very nice hole. The carpet installers went on to install the carpet with the hide-a-bed remaining in the room, moving it as needed to get the carpet installed. The carpet store sent someone out to repair the wall at their expense and the room looks lovely. However, Faux Ma is demanding that her $30 furniture moving fee be refunded, because she believes they didn’t really move the couch. Well, yes they did. They moved it right through her wall. They moved it several times to get the carpet down. The couch had been moved. Faux Ma insists that none of that counts, and she would pay only if the couch had been moved out of the room. Boyfriend and I tried to explain that she is paying the fee for not having the room cleared of furniture. She said she isn’t finished with them yet, and won’t be until she gets her $30 back.

Faux Ma then told us how she’s been busy painting the foundation of the house – how she has to dig away the dirt to paint beneath ground level. I asked her if the realtor suggested she do that, and she said no, she just thought it should be done. What isn’t being done is the downsizing necessary for them to move into a smaller dwelling. There are bundles and bundles of old magazines that have never been thrown out or recycled. There are boxes and boxes of old Christmas cards – not vintage Christmas cards, just old ones kept for the purpose of knowing who sent one that year and who didn’t. There are grocery bags upon grocery bags filled with newspapers. And that's just the trash.

There are cupboards and closets and trunks filled with “special” things like the plastic canvas Kleenex box cover that “Mother made.” Faux Ma had a tumultuous relationship with her mother. However, when Mother died Faux Ma took it upon herself to canonize her. Things that belonged to or were made by Mother (and Mother could make everything from lye soap to origami toads) are not to be thrown away or given away to strangers. Such an act is unspeakable.

There are also things like old wagon wheels that came from the farm, another sanctity that must not be blasphemed. The farm – the hell hole Faux Ma couldn’t wait from which to flee and which rendered Faux Pa emasculated by his father. The farm, originally Faux Pa’s father’s, and later occupied by the Fauxs, was cause of nothing but strife, anxiety, and frustration. Of course, once they moved from the farm to a city in an entirely different state, the farm, like Saint Mother, was canonized and determined to be a place of holiness. Anything that came from the farm goes into the same pile as anything that came from Saint Mother. All of these items act as tokens of both survival and of defeat.

For now Boyfriend and I are keeping our distance from this portion of the Faux’s journey. The tension level is high. Faux Pa is retreating into a stupor of silence, while Faux Ma is fine-tuning her skills as a passive-aggressive. This form of behavior takes the edge off the feelings of inferiority she has in situations where she is completely uninformed and unreceptive to advice. Because Faux Pa is practically catatonic in the chaos of selling their home, Boyfriend will be the target of Faux Ma’s passive-aggressive behavior.

I think we’re ready for the possibility of being shunned by the Fauxs for our sassy suggestions and our impatience with their inability to throw anything away. I’m already on the shit list because I rejected the thirty-year-old electric bun warmer offered to me by Faux Ma. After all, “it belonged to Mother.”

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