Where did it all go so wrong?
My eighteen-year-old granddaughter from New Hampshire has now officially moved in with us, taking over the former guestroom, as she prepares to attend college in Santa Barbara. I’ve been apprehensive of course, but also quite excited as any columnist seeking fresh new material might be.
From pain and aggregation springs forth humor in all its sympathy-seeking glory.
Ideas were already brewing: The fight over television programming – sports vs. teen angst-laden dramas. Practically writes itself doesn’t it?
How about: Music that makes the plants tremble at a volume that interferes with space station communications? A sure-fire laugh riot.
Or: The new lump on the couch with all the motivation of a sea slug? Feel the corners of your mouth turning up?
Sigh. If only.
Turns out Ashley is a pleasure to be around. A whirlwind of accomplishment. A thoughtful and inquisitive family member. Productive, quiet and clean. Life just isn’t fair sometimes.
After years of deadlines and success at making molehills out of mountains, I wasn’t about to give up, though.
“Hey Ash. What’s up for today?”
“I need to pick up a few things at the store.”
Aha! “Goth clothing?” I asked excitedly. “Black lipstick and purple eye shadow?”
“No, I need a clothes hamper for my room.”
“A clothes hamper? We could just get a cardboard box from the garage.”
“Ha-ha. That’s funny GP.”
“It is?” Huh. I’d better write that down and figure out why later.
When we got to the store I headed straight for the women’s clothing section. Maybe they had belts with spikes on them, shoes with deadly pointed toes, or t-shirts with obnoxious punk rock group silk screenings.
“What do you think of this GP?” she asked.
I whipped around, fully prepared to be in shock at some inappropriate choice. “Oh my god!” I said. “…Wait. What is that for?”
“It’s for my clothes. See it has four little plastic drawers so I can keep everything organized.”
“What? I was hoping… I mean I was afraid you were going to leave your stuff strewn all over the place in disgusting heap and piles.”
“Ha-ha. Got me again GP.”
Later, I watched as she hammered a few nails in her closet so she could hang up her collection of disappointingly tasteful necklaces and scarves. Right next to the bookcase she had rescued from the garage, and cleaned in preparation of the arrival of her books that were being shipped out. I was feeling a bit depressed as you can imagine. Then…
“Would it be okay if I hung up some art on the walls?”
Finally! Gleefully, I envisioned boy band posters, satanic sketches, dark demented photos that would make my ear hairs stick straight out.
Next thing I knew we were on the back patio. I was pruning my bonsais seeking peace from the hardship of column searching. Ashley had her iPod set up playing music she thoughtfully had picked out that she hoped I might like and… she was painting.
No, don’t get your hopes up. She wasn’t blackening the walls or spraying anti-establishment slogans all over the place. She was painting three small canvases with acrylics in bright pleasing colors. I knew it was useless but I tried to find hidden meaning in the abstracts, but they were just plain damn good.
I was about to give up completely when my wife wandered out and asked if we wanted to attend Concerto Night at the Granada. Ashley seemed interested.
“Concertos have nothing to do with Native Americans.” I blurted out. “I looked it up. It’s classical music with a full orchestra from the Music Academy of the West! And there are four soloists. Clarinet. Piano. Cello. And violin. It will probably last two hours!”
I thought she looked a bit pensive before she said: “Wow, that sounds great. I love all kinds of music.” She followed my wife into the house. “I think I’ll wear a nice dress. Can I help you with dinner first?”
I know what you are thinking. How is he going to survive this? Contentment has always been the enemy of humor writers. But I have patience. She’s already talking about one of her friends visiting. That can’t be good can it? Let’s all think bad thoughts together okay?