Fall is coming to A House of a Guy’s Own, time to think about raising the wheels on the mower to attempt one last pass through the thatch, and maybe doing something with the flowers–but what? They seem to grow back no matter what, so they must be perennials–the natural yard needs a woman’s touch, but then, if it had it, this wouldn’t be A House of a Guy’s Own. Ted Kaczynski was wrong about a lot of things but not about having his own place. There is something in a man that longs for the time when he could hear himself think, and she couldn’t. When he could say to himself, “Let me buy you a cup of coffee, Mike,” pull a can of corn with a spoon already in it out of the refrigerator for lunch, play Steely Dan indiscriminately, and maintain a filthy toilet without anybody even noticing. A place where, by virtue of there being no roost, he ruled.
For a while I had seen it as a trailer in the backyard behind the basketball hoop, attached by the merest wisp of a phone line, or maybe not. But the gravitational pull of the mother ship would soon pull it into lower and lower orbit until it was captured and refitted as a playhouse. The same held true for the much dreaded addition, where, after having your life torn open and exposed to carpenters and the elements for six months to two years, you end up still in earshot of “Bach Wrote a Minuet One Day,” and they have but to fling open a door to wail, “Mom won’t let me have a (bag of) caramel(s)!”
Then, three falls ago, alarmingly (and, I thought, fatally) ill with an undiagnosed something causing shooting pains where the heart is generally thought to be, I had just returned from a second fruitless trip to the emergency room when I noticed, on the floor next to me, an info sheet (my wife had brought it home to show a friend) on a little house for sale a few blocks away. In my delusional state, I bid on it. When I came to, I was the owner of a hundred-year-old farmhouse/student slum, just out of reach of the children’s current bicycle range (although I may have to move soon). Once we closed, it was furnished within a matter of hours with all the things from my former lifetimes that my wife would not have in the house: my mother’s lamps and tables, pictures of me, Arthur’s bookcase, Uncle Max’s flowerpot, the samovar and candlesticks dad got from the scrap metal people in lieu of payment, and even my old bachelor bed, looking just like it did before it turned on me.
Now I drive the five blocks every morning, make a pot of coffee, read the Times, and do what a guy’s gotta do, or not. And afterward, I go home.
Talk to you tomorrow.