Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Five Universal Laws of Privacy

I am never alone in my house. Well, to be truthful, I actually am alone in my house right now. It's like a solar eclipse. I'm afraid to relish it for too long for fear I'll go blind or something. But, as mothers, there is an unwritten rule that unless you have 1) conspired with another mom; 2) been willfully extorted by a 14-year old babysitter who has "agreed" to barely supervise your children while actually raiding your refrigerator, texting and watching pirated HBO on your TV; or 3) been granted the ability to rotate your own head a full 360 degrees, thereby causing a mass exodus from your house before it self-immolates, you. are. never. alone. in your own house. Why is this phenomenon? Because, contrary to what you believe either about your magnetic personality or that your rear end has its own gravitational pull, you brought those small people into your house, and they're gonna make sure you remember that: 

1. The Sucking Black Hole Vortex Effect: It does not matter where you go or what you do, someone, one of those people you created, will follow you everywhere. You might as well try to hack off your own shadow. And, even if you do manage to escape the parameters of this Familial Force Field, just think of it as an invisible fence for your dog. Within a second or two, your kids will get the zap that you're away, and that means you could be having fun or doing something cool like playing Angry Birds or jumping on the bed or maybe you're just trying to go poo alone for the first time in a decade and by Maude that is not going to happen.

2. The Population/Purpose Inverse: Oddly enough, the more people there are in a house, the greater chance for privacy. If your kids have friends, you can guarantee yourself maybe four full minutes of folding laundry before some crisis unfolds. If it's just the family, you're down to two-and-a-half. Two other people, ninety seconds, max. And, if you happen to be in the unfortunate situation where there's just you and that one special, special friend who gets to be in the house alone with you, just give up now. The same holds true for the degree of purpose your privacy entails...folding laundry? You might as well do it naked in Times Square - no one is going to be around for that. But find the sudden and urgent need to get rid of a particularly stubborn booger or pull a wedgie out of your...suddenly there's eleventeen people around asking why your grabbing your own butt and have a finger up your nose.

3. The Law of Diminishing Proportions: Stand in the middle of your driveway and chances are, you'll be there alone for a while. The living room, what with the stuffy furniture and the stabby things by the fireplace, yeah, maybe one kid goes in there. The kitchen? Oh, you've entered the realm of Non-Privacy now. And the smaller you get, the more people you can count on trying to ram their little bodies into your increasingly smaller square footage. In my house, we have the One Ass Kitchen. It's incredibly small and narrow, if  you open both the oven and the refrigerator at the same time you can create your own weather system. But I am never alone in that room. Go down to the laundry room and it's worse, and my bathroom? Forget it. I haven't been alone in there in 11 years.

4. The Husband Paradox: Maybe it's that they really are lonely when they go to work. Maybe they just store up all those random thoughts just for you. My dear sweet clueless husband...thinks that, on those rare times when the children are gone, that I need the company. And he'll bring me random things he's found, like last year's catalog and a couple of movie stubs and should we still save them? And sit on the ottoman at my feet and maybe he'll even try to talk over that exact moment when Briscoe and Curtis are making all the connections that will lead them to the bad guy and then I'll have to hit pause, and then I think to myself that Lenny must really get tired of being paused just as he's got that thought all figured out. 

And then he'll say things, hopeful things, like "I think I'm going to go to the gym, then get the stuff from Home Depot and have lunch with Dave..." and you -- being stupid -- think how awesome that will be. For him, of course. Awesome for him. And nineteen minutes after he leaves he returns home with an ice pack and a limp and says something about pulling a hamstring and he'll just hang out here with you this afternoon, and oh hey can you bring him some lunch and massage his back? And you're left standing at the front door, perplexedly looking at the car going, "...but you said you were going to be gone..."

5. The Continuum Theory: At one point I was single, and lived in a super tiny townhouse apartment with the dishwasher in the bathroom and the neighbor's Norman Bates-y cat, who traveled through the house via the air conditioning vents and let me tell you there are far things weirder than seeing overly large green eyes peering out through a grate in the ceiling at 2am...point is, I. lived. alone. Then one day I got married, moved into a cute little house, and added a kid. That house eventually got traded for a bigger and better one -- and another kid --and then an even bigger and better one to go with the last kid. Now I've got five people living here, and my house is never empty. And, then it dawned on me that by time the IHPs all venture off to college, McLovin will retire and then *he'll* be in my house all day.

And that's when I realize I miss that f**king cat.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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