The vacuum cleaner whirrs steadily as you pass it over the plain white carpet of your living room. You’ve elevated the television’s volume so you can hear your talk shows over the requisite noise of your weekly cleaning, but even a very loud Ellen Degeneres doesn’t drown out the simulated explosions and screams of angry twelve year olds emitting from the computer speaker’s in your son’s bedroom. A mother loves his child, God knows, but that boy makes it a trial to like him.
Continuing your tidying ritual, you lift the couch while briefly closing your eyes as if it will make what lies underneath magically disappear. You open your eyes to find exactly what you hoped wasn’t there: the picked-off crusts of a loaf’s worth of bread. Flecks of peanut butter, jelly, mayonnaise and mustard add dots of color to the crumby brown mess.
“Samuel Horenthal Anderson!” you scream down the hall toward the bastion of slovenly laziness that is your son’s private quarters. “Get your booty in here right this instant!”
“Huh?” Sam calls out. His wordless inquiry is followed by a loud digital explosion, which itself is followed by several very unchristian curse words.
You hear a loud banging of plastic against wood then the practiced, muffled stomping of Sam’s feet against carpet. He no doubt means to convey his frustration with his heavy footfalls but, absent a loud surface upon which to walk, the effect of his efforts is far more humorous than intimidating.
“You killed me, mom!” Sam hisses. “What do you want?”
“What I want, mister attitude, is for you to stop dumping the crusts of your sandwiches under the couch in my living room?” you reply.
“This wouldn’t even be a problem if you would just cut the crusts off like I asked you to!”
“This wouldn’t even be a problem if you would make your own gosh darn sandwiches like a big twenty-seven-year-old boy!”
“Mom, you have no idea how much pressure I’m under!”
“Pressure from what, Sam? Gravity? Because it sure as heck isn’t that job you don’t have.”
Seething anger fills Sam’s eyes and, without a word, he turns and storms back to his room, slamming the door behind him so hard that a picture falls off the wall.
You sigh as you walk down the hall to retrieve the photo off the floor. As you pick it up, you see it’s a photo of Sam on your shoulders at the beach, his baby-blond hair waving in the salty wind. The innocent smile of the boy your son once was warms your tired heart.
“Mom!” Sam shout through the door. “I know you’re out there! I’m hungry!”
A tear rolls down your eye. “Yes, dear.”