Kicks. I get on kicks, especially when company is coming. In October, we’ll have two English teens with us for 10 days. Their mother, Gill, will stay with my sister and her husband, just a few blocks away. These guests are mother’s relatives and it’s their first time in the states.
That’s why it’s so important for me to find attractive tissue boxes to go in each of our bathrooms, the lime green guest bath, the khaki one with the shower, the teal master bath, and the dark blue one downstairs. That’s the bathroom my sister thinks I should paint. Jackie is full of good ideas.
She appeared at the door on Friday evening in the middle of my kick. This recent sustained period of cleaning and pitching began on Labor Day. It was sparked by the onset of September. Only six weeks to get the house in order and write a new serial story about mules — speaking of kicks.
I was in my office when I heard the doorbell. For days I’d focused my primary energy on the bookshelf-lined room. Only two stacks of stuff remained on my desk, and I was anxious to get the job done before I slipped back into slovenly.
No matter. Jackie was on the step, papers in hand requiring a signature and documents for family business that had to be attended to, now.
“I just need your Social Security card and driver’s license,” she said, knowing what reaction her request would illicit. (The same one she got when she asked for it a year ago, and I put her off.)
“You’ve got to be kidding. There’s no way I know where my Social Security card is,” I guffawed, realizing I wasn’t going to get off the hook, or be able to return to my office, until I gave the search the old college try.
Like my late father, Jackie lives by “a place for everything and everything in its place.” She can put her hand on her baptismal papers, stub from her first paycheck, and personal property tax receipts, which makes her heroic in my book — how great would it be not to have to go to the courthouse every time we need new license plates?
Thinking I could divert Jackie’s attention, I offered her a beer. She didn’t want one, she wanted that card, and I knew she wasn’t leaving until I found it. Panic rose like bile in my throat. But suddenly, I had a revelation. The card might be in my nightstand in a little cedar box I got for high school graduation, a miniature hope chest that proved to be my salvation.
There under an old letter from dad and my first-grade report card was an envelope marked “S.S.#.” The heavens opened and a choir began to sing. Jackie was proud. Dad would have been too.
Actually it’s a good thing my parents weren’t there. As soon as Jackie saw the cedar box with Winter’s Home Furnishings stamped on the lid, she started in on how she didn’t have hers — Mom probably threw it away, like she did her Chatty Cathy — and was I sure that was my miniature hope chest and not hers?
The litany continued in my office where we went to make a copy of my Social Security card. I was excited to show Jackie how organized my office was since she’d never seen it like that before, but then she noticed a memento from our childhood on my bookshelf and said how she wished she had one like it — why did my brother and I both have one but she didn’t? I defended myself as best I could and guided her up the stairs, again offering her a beer.
She declined but did stay, the two of us propping up our legs on a chair, engaging in lively conversation. It’s awesome to have a sister to bike and walk with, to laugh and talk with, even one who’s insanely organized.
Fortunately she doesn’t have a fetish about tissue box holders. That quirk is all mine.