December 31, 2006


My brother thinks I have finally seen the light: I cannot visit my mother and stay at her house. He is right. I regret that I did not figure this out before voices were raised and unkind words exchanged. My mother is charmingly eccentric, and “frugal“ doesn't even begin to describe her. We love her, but as my brother says, it is unwise and unhealthy to be exposed to her unusual habits for a 24-hour stretch or more.

When we arrived at her house, she had a disposable cup designated for Hart's use during our stay. Strange, but par for the course. There is a logic to this, I suppose, though known only to her. However, the trouble started when we returned from a two-day pilgrimage to LEGOLAND. After three hours in harrowing California traffic, we sat down to dinner.

"Which is your cup?"

"What do you mean "my cup"? I haven't been here for two days."

"Well, which is the cup you used last?"

"I have no idea. Here's a dishwasher full of stuff. Is this clean?"

"Uhm, yes."

"What I mean is, has the dishwasher been run since we left?"

"No, of course not." (Of course not. What was I thinking?)

"I don't remember which cup I used. May I have a clean one from the cupboard?"



"No. There are only three and they are all in the dishwasher."

By now my voice was getting increasingly shrill. "It's your house and your prerogative. But if the household rule is that I am only allowed one cup during my stay here, you must tell me right away. I can't possibly figure out such a bizarre system."

"I don't like your system."

More high-pitched screeching. "My system, my system! The system used by the entire dishwasher-owning world? The system whereby you load dirty dishes into the dishwasher until it is full, run it, then replace the items in the cabinets and drawers for future use. That system?"

I had a sudden flashback to a visit several years ago when we had had a similar discussion. I had asked for a bath towel for the shower and she had given me what in my household is called an oversized handkerchief. I complained that it was too small, to which my mother had exclaimed, "But it's square." There is no argument with logic like that.

Motel 6 with its plethora of sanitized and wrapped glasses looks really appealing. I understand they also have regulation-sized towels there.

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