There was much weeping and gnashing of teeth at the Spooky household last night. It was a solemn and somber scene.
Well, ok. Maybe not really. But I was certainly upset.
Maria has been cleaning my house for lo, these many years. Long before there was a Jackson, or a Katie, or a house outside of town, or an Earl or a motorcycle or wrinkles or tired feet, there was Maria. The only prenuptual agreement that Jackson and I have is that if we split up, Maria comes with me. However, I have been informed that certain parties fully plan to violate said prenup at such time as there is a parting of the ways. The thought of that battle alone may keep our household intact.
I was single and living on my own when Maria and I first hooked up. I was complaining to Rose one day about my house. I am generally a neat person. Clutter and disorder get on my nerves after a while. But I am also a packrat. I told Rose that I was going to have to go through the nice, neat piles that occupied all corners of my house and garage and get rid of stuff. I claim fame as an excellent surface cleaner, but seldom ever think about doing the deep cleaning until it is fairly atrocious.
Rose suggested I get someone to clean my house. I immediately scoffed at that idea. After all, I was single. And middle class. And perfectly capable of cleaning my own damn house. And there were starving children in Africa.
Rose listened to all my excuses and told me to do whatever I wanted. But she was single and she had someone clean her house and the sky hadn't fallen nor the moon turned to blood.
So, after a few days of mulling it over, I started looking for someone. That was about 12 years ago and Maria has been visiting me weekly ever since.
She is from Mexico and barely spoke English when we met. She is married and has twin sons who are now grown. She now has her GED and has been taking some continuing education classes at the junior college. She worked at a loan company and other full-time jobs, but still comes to my house every week. I only actually see her once or twice a year, but I feel like we are growing old together.
I had no idea how to go about hiring a cleaning lady, so the first time we talked she asked me what I wanted her to do. I can't remember what I actually told her, but it was along the lines of "do whatever you want". So, some days when I come home, the house smells clean, everything is shiny and nothing has changed. Other days, the house smells clean, everything is shiny and she has rearranged all the pots and pans in the cabinet. Or she has cleaned out the refrigerator. Or she has organized my closet. Or whatever else takes her fancy.
I love her.
However, like any relationship, we do have our problems. Maria is old school. She has never, ever questioned how my house is decorated. But she tends to break a gargoyle or a skull about once a year. She hasn't broken any of my madonnas or icons. Just skulls and gargoyles. I don't complain. I figure it is a small price to pay and I feel certain she lights a candle for me each week at mass and I can use all the help I can get in that area.
But, then there is the rubber band ball.
I recently started subscribing to the newspaper again. (Like some sort of real adult, which is very depressing.) In addition to the sudoku, my greatest pleasure as a subscriber is rubber band storage. My first rubber band ball reached about an inch and a half in diameter. I bounced it on the side table during boring TV shows. I rubbed it and molded it and painstakingly arranged the bands to optimize the orbital shape.
Then one day after Maria came, it was gone. I was crushed.
I started a new ball - determined that this would be even more impressive than the last. I would hide it before I left for work on Wednesdays so I knew it would be safe when I returned home. It grew and grew. Then one day I forgot.
When I arrived home from work to the sparkly, lemony-fresh house, I remembered. I ran to the end table and there it was! Still in place. I added to it. It got bigger and bigger. It was bigger and better than the first ball. And for the past month it has set on the table, undisturbed by the ministrations of Maria.
Last night I had to teach a class. I got home a little after 8:00. Jackson left the paper and the rubber band for me so I could enjoy my puzzle and play with my ball. I sat down to relax.
I couldn't find the ball. No ball! I searched high and low, but no luck. It is gone.
I am crushed.