From the town of Bedrock
I am not a homemaker. I have three or four recipes I can cook and proudly stake claim to (I’ll put my chicken pot-pie in a blindfolded taste test any day of the week), but in general, I’m a hurricane in the kitchen. Ditto in the laundry room. Yes, I manage to get things agitating without soap bubbles pouring from the closed lid, but inevitably there’s a tinted lip balm in a pocket or a new red shirt mingling with the whites. The same goes for sewing. The simple task of replacing a button brings out the OCD in me: There aren’t enough knots in the universe to hold that sucker in place and so I keep tying them, one after another after another, knots lining up like an endless string of ben wa balls, unable to stop myself until the button disappears beneath a big clump of thread.
I thank my mother for my domestic ineptitude. It is she—the Queen of Beige Food, the one who boasts of her culinary ability to prepare all things pasty and grey—who once forgot to add sugar to Baked Alaska.
In her defense, she was probably high when baking it, so despite the sour look on her guest’s faces that night, she’d had a good time in the kitchen and eventually, after the initial horror wore off, a good laugh. Still. Baking-while-stoned only further serves as a reminder of the old apple-and-tree cliché, a fact I’m intent on defying as I’ve made it my purpose in life to break the mold.
And so it goes that a couple weeks ago, while under the influence of Vicodin following a little abdominal surgery, I decided the time had come to hem the curtains on the French doors in my bedroom. I’d purchased them at Ikea and go figure, they were three feet too long. Damn those Swedes and their extra-tall doorways.
Not to fear. I asked a talented seamstress friend, who makes fabulously stylish Mad Men-era clothes for herself and her daughters, if she would hem them for me and then never got around to bringing the fabric to her house. Which is aaaaall the way across the street. Instead, my mother-in-law pinned the curtains during one of her visits and that is how they stayed, no one the wiser, for five years, six months, three weeks and four days. I am lazy. And pathetic.
To offer some perspective on my state of mind at the time of the “hemming,” I had been unable to pee without immense effort for two days. Were you to have peeked through the bathroom window during this time, you’d have seen a very disheveled me, sitting on the toilet with my laptop open to this:
I was drugged and delirious and fighting tooth and nail to avoid catheterization. I was dribbling urine after hours of concentrating on Niagra Falls and then lying sleepless in bed—bladder full—on top of Ruby’s special potty-training mattress pad just in case my urethra came to in the middle of the night. I actually hoped to wet the bed. Isn’t that sexy? This was new turf for my relationship. Suffice it to say, being bedridden did not suit my mental health. I had no business using scissors. But enough excuses.
I’d been staring at those curtains from my bed for three days and the more I stared, the more I began to resent them. Their imperfect existence was a reminder of my domestic shortcomings. They were unfinished and they needed to not be unfinished immediately.
How hard can it be? I thought. By following the hem line, I can cut them to the proper length with just enough fabric left over for a little break. Any caveman can do that!
I shuffled to the kitchen, grabbed the scissors and shuffled back to the bedroom where I knelt at the curtains, careful not to bust the stitches in my bellybutton. I lined the scissors up and I cut. Slowly, at first, but then I picked up speed as I cut and cut and cut. It was cathartic in a nobody-gets-hurt, NO! MORE! WIRE! HANGERS! kind of way. I may have grunted. I was a caveman. I was Wilma Flintstone.
And I have Flintstone curtains to prove it.