I’ve decided to share my latest book (The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man) with my followers here, free of charge, one chapter at a time. So… Where were we on this read-along… Oh, yes…
Chapter 13: The Fish Tank Incident
With the exception of a few failed attempts to separate here and there, Eric and I shared a room from the day after he was born until the day I left for college in Hawaii.
Eric has always loved fish. As a kid, he would become engrossed in Dad’s own hobby for them, and as soon as he was old enough to handle the responsibility of an aquarium, Mom and Dad set him up with a tiny tank in our room. Over the years, he upgraded to bigger and then even bigger aquariums, until we were older teenagers and an entire wall was taken up with this huge 100-gallon beast which held all sorts of cichlids and other large scary looking fresh water fish that he’d been raising for years.
Me, I was a lover of space and design. I have always enjoyed taking whatever space I am living in and making the most of it. This meant constantly rearranging our bedroom to try and make things fit better. My hairdresser would tell you that it’s because I’m a Gemini. I know better. It’s because anything sitting in the same place for very long at all is… boring. How does everyone not see that?
Eric always was a good sport when it came to helping me rearrange the room. I think he knew he owed it to me for keeping such a massive thing in there that couldn’t be moved whenever I had the tinkering to move crap around. Or he could have known that no matter how often he cleaned that thing, it always stank at least a little. Or it could be that he knew he owed me for the time he sat on my bed naked, unknowingly farted a Hershey squirt onto my sheets, and then blamed his pet iguana when I inadvertently stuck my hand firmly into it. I nearly murdered him that day.
But he lived. And he knew that I never cared all that much for his fish aquariums, or his iguanas, or his chameleons, or the annoyingly loud crickets he kept to feed them. But when you share a room, you learn to give and take.
One day I asked him to help me move the beds around. I had this amazing idea of how we could free up a little extra space for our collection of Sobe bottles. It was an amazing collection. We spent two years buying, emptying, and refilling Sobe bottles with water, and finding awesome places in our room to display them. Mom never did appreciate the art that those bottles were, but we knew that someday they’d be worth a lot of money. Today they line the crown molding in her home gym. She loves them now just as much as she did then, and yes, we’re still planning to make our fortune off of them.
Anyway, that day we took one of the beds apart since simply scooting them wasn’t possible in the space we had. As soon as we lifted the box spring, we realized we had a problem. We had been shoving all sorts of crap under that bed for months. There were dirty clothes, shoes, hangers, garbage, eaten-on dishes, crusty socks (only once-teenage boys will understand that), and I’m pretty sure the skeletal remains of a parakeet or something. Shoving stuff under the beds was an old habit from childhood that really didn’t want to die. Any time Mom asked us to clean our room, we’d just bulldoze everything out of sight.
I leaned the mattress and box spring against one wall and Eric leaned the end-boards and side-rails against another, then we got to work cleaning up the mess from underneath both beds.
In the middle of it, Eric had to leave. I don’t know where he was headed. Probably to some karate thing. Or breakdancing thing. Or cheerleading thing. Or some other awful thing where he actually found a way to sweat. I don’t know why he did that crap. Getting fatter and doing nothing was so much more fun. That was my story, and I was sticking to it.
I told him I’d wait to finish until he got back. I didn’t know if he had crusty socks under his bed, but I sure wasn’t going to clean them up if he did.
And I tried to wait. But… the apparent Gemini in me wasn’t having it. Eventually doing nothing in a room that was on the verge of being gloriously different became even more boring than furniture that just sat there, so I finished the cleanup myself. Several garbage bags, trips to the kitchen sink, and full laundry hampers later, I emerged barely scathed, only slightly diseased, and ready to move some things around.
I’ll be honest. My heart started racing with excitement just writing that last paragraph, that’s how much I love rearranged living spaces.
I started by tugging and pushing the one bed that was still assembled to its new location. My parents had bought us all solid oak bed sets with unbelievably thick mattresses, so it was no easy task. Especially on plush carpet. The bed was budging only an inch or two at a time, and I kept getting in front of it and behind it, inching it closer to its next resting place.
Then, it happened.